A prominent South African businessman and former politician has denied reports that he offered to fund former deputy president Jacob Zuma in a race to lead the country's ruling African National Congress.
ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale told reporters Wednesday that he has not provided any funding for Zuma's campaign. But Sexwale, who is seen as a possible compromise candidate in the race, said he expects Zuma to win the party presidency.
Zuma jumped ahead of South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki in the party's provincial elections on Saturday and Sunday. Zuma won more than 60 percent of the votes cast by the party's nine provincial branches.
The provincial party elections are considered a good indicator of who will win the ANC presidency at the party's national conference next month.
The ANC's dominance of South African politics makes it likely the party leader will also capture the national presidency in elections set for 2009.
Mr. Mbeki fired Zuma as deputy president in 2005 after Zuma's financial adviser was charged with corruption. Zuma was accused of corruption as well, but the charges were later dropped.
Last year, he was acquitted on rape charges in an unrelated trial.
Despite the charges, Zuma enjoys backing from South African trade unions who are opposed to the policies of President Mbeki.
Mr. Mbeki is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term as South Africa's president but has fought to stay on as party leader and exert political influence.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.