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Zuma due back in court

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 25 – South Africa’s ruling party chief 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 reported 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," Carl Niehaus, a spokesman for his party, the African National Congress (ANC), told AFP.

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 Sunday.

Zuma’s legal team has said it will appeal to the nation’s 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.

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

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