Zuma to hear graft trial date

ANC president Jacob Zuma, seen as the presidential frontrunner in upcoming elections, is due back in court early next month to hear the date of his graft trial, media reports said on Sunday.

Zuma faces corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering charges that were reinstated two weeks ago after the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a lower court ruling that had thrown out the corruption case on a technicality.

The Sunday Times reported that Zuma is due to appear in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on February 4 when a date for his corruption trial will be set.

“Mr Zuma is aware of the date,” said ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus.

The ANC has said that Zuma will remain the party’s candidate in polls that are expected as early as April, even if his campaign is conducted in the shadow of a protracted legal battle.

“He will be the presidential candidate, that’s not even up for discussion,” Niehaus said on Sunday.

Zuma’s legal team has said it will appeal to the Constitutional Court over the Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the charges.

The charges stem from a long-running investigation into an arms deal that has rocked South African politics for years.

The main allegation was that Zuma received bribes for protecting French arms giant Thales in an investigation into a controversial multimillion-dollar weapons deal.

Meanwhile, the ANC and Zuma are expected to spill the beans about other corruption in the arms deal when they make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority

The Mail & Guardian has established that the ANC intends to show the NPA that Zuma is small fry in the arms-deal saga and that it is in possession of much more damaging evidence, including documentation that allegedly implicates former president Thabo Mbeki and Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota in wrongdoing.

High-profile legal teams hired by Zuma and the ANC also plan to:

  • ‘Prove” to the NPA that Zuma had no criminal intent when he accepted gifts and money from fraud convict Schabir Shaik and can therefore not be convicted of corruption; and
  • Argue that persisting with Zuma’s prosecution is not in the public interest. - Sapa

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