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South Africa's Highest Court Rejects Jacob Zuma Appeal

In South Africa, ruling ANC Party President Jacob Zuma received a set-back Thursday in his bid to fight fraud and corruption charges against him. The Constitutional Court, the nation's highest, has ruled against Zuma regarding potential evidence in his upcoming trial. Barring a conviction, he's expected to seek his party's nomination to run for national president to replace Thabo Mbeki.

VOA reporter Delia Robertson, who's following the story from Johannesburg, spoke to English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about what the court ruling means for Zuma.

"It means that some 98,000 pages of evidence, which the state confiscated in raids on Mr. Zuma's homes and also those of his legal adviser at the time, two of his legal advisers, can be used as evidence against him in the corruption trial, which is scheduled to get underway next week," she says.

Robertson summarizes the case against Zuma. "It flows out of the conviction in 2005 of his former financial adviser Schabir Sheik. And it revolves around money that was said to have been solicited by Zuma in order that he would intervene on behalf of a company bidding for parts of South Africa's…arms deal," she says.

Asked whether the court's decision ends Zuma's appeals, Robertson says, "On these particular matters, yes. But he will next week seek to have the entire case thrown out of court when his trial is due to begin in KwaZulu-Natal (Province in) Pietermartizburg… There are also other applications pending. One in Mauritius, another in the United Kingdom, where he is seeking to have the release of documents to the National Prosecuting Authority blocked."

Zuma says his constitutional rights have been violated and describes his prosecution as a political ploy to thwart his efforts to become South African president.

The trial is expected to take months. Campaigning for next April's presidential election officially begins early next year. However, Robertson says, "I think in the case of Mr. Zuma, the presidential campaign began several years ago."