Jacob Zuma will lead South Africa’s ruling ANC into this year’s elections even if he is charged with corruption, the president has said. Kgalema Motlanthe was speaking ahead of Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on whether the charges should be dropped.

State prosecutors have appealed against a ruling that they were wrong to resurrect the charges last year.  As ANC leader, Mr Zuma would be the strong favourite to become president after the polls in a few months’ time. According to Mr Motlanthe “He remains the ANC’s contender for presidency of the country in this year’s elections.”

Mr Zuma, 65, has always denied charges of graft, money-laundering and racketeering, stemming from a controversial $5bn 1999 arms deal. He has said he would only resign from public office if convicted.  His supporters say the charges were part of a plot to prevent him becoming president.

He won a bitter contest a year ago against former President Thabo Mbeki to leader the African National Congress.  When Judge Chris Nicholson dismissed the case on a technicality in September, he stressed his ruling had no bearing on the guilt or otherwise of Mr Zuma.

But he said there was evidence of political interference – that Mr Mbeki had colluded with prosecutors against Mr Zuma as part of the “titanic power struggle” within the ANC.  This led to Mr Mbeki standing down as president and his replacement by Mr Motlanthe, an ally of the ANC leader.



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