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South Africa's Former Deputy President to Testify


South Africa's former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, is taking the stand this week in his defense against a rape charge in the Johannesburg High Court. This is the first time Zuma has presented his side of the story to the court.

It promises to be a challenging week for Jacob Zuma, the former deputy president of South Africa, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of raping a family friend last November at his home.

On the stand for the first time in the month-old trial, Zuma suggested the charges were part of a political plot designed to bury his hopes of becoming the next president.

The 31-year-old alleged victim has testified she looked at Zuma as a father figure.

In his opening testimony Zuma denied the relationship was akin to that between a father and daughter.

The defense team admits that sex took place, but that it was consensual. Zuma lawyers have spent the past four weeks trying to discredit the complainant, saying she was an unreliable witness and therefore the case should be thrown out.

But last week Judge Willem van der Merwe rejected that claim and said the case against Zuma was strong enough for a conviction if Zuma failed to provide new evidence in his defense.

Zuma is expected to face intense scrutiny from the prosecution over his relationship with the complainant, whose father was a long-time Zuma friend and African National Congress colleague.

The outcome of this trial and that of a pending case against Zuma on corruption charges could have a significant impact on the political future of South Africa. He was removed from office following the corruption charges last July, but remains an ANC leader.

Jacob Zuma commands a strong popular following and despite the allegations leveled against him is still considered a potential president of the country, if he can avoid conviction.

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