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South African court postpones Zuma corruption proceedings

  • Story Highlights
  • Jacob Zuma is president of the ANC, the most powerful party in South Africa
  • He is widely predicted to win the presidential vote, expected to take place in April
  • Zuma has denied claims of accepting bribes, money laundering, among others
  • Zuma declares innocence: "Forget about these charges and go vote for the ANC"
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- Corruption proceedings against Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa's ruling party, have been provisionally postponed until August 25, the High Court said Wednesday.

Jacob Zuma president of the ANC

Jacob Zuma, president of the ANC, pictured at a rally in East London, South Africa, last month.

The date means the case will go to court after the country's presidential elections, which Zuma is expected to win.

The election date has not been announced but is widely expected to be in mid-April.

Zuma is president of the African National Congress, or ANC, the most powerful party in the country.

He is accused of accepting a bribes from a French arms company that won a contract in a controversial multibillion-dollar arms deal. Zuma also is facing charges of money laundering, racketeering and fraud.

'I am innocent and it is my constitutional right to campaign for the presidency," Zuma told the hundreds of supporters gathered outside the court. "Forget about these charges and go vote for the ANC."

Zuma supporters see Zuma as a victim of a political conspiracy designed to destroy his chances of becoming president.

Zuma has denied the charges.

The High Court on Wednesday gave Zuma a deadline of May 18 for him to apply for a permanent stay of prosecution. If he does apply, arguments about that application will be heard August 25, the court said.

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The pending trial and questions about Zuma's credibility could be fodder for opposition parties ahead of the vote, but some analysts say the opposition will still have a tough fight on its hands.

"Party loyalties are very strong in South Africa," said political analyst Steven Friedman. "It may well be that many ANC supporters will disapprove of the idea of Jacob Zuma running for president with charges against him, but decide that the ANC is still their political home and that they'll give it another chance."

Zuma defeated former South African President Thabo Mbeki for the party's top job in December 2007. Mbeki was sacked as the country's president in September after being accused of political meddling.

The move brought about a major change in South African politics. Mbeki's supporters broke away from the ANC and formed their own party, and ANC Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was sworn in as head of the country.

Motlanthe's interim term is set to last only until the election and he will likely do the groundwork to help Zuma win. If Zuma were convicted, Motlanthe could take over as party president.

CNN's Nkepile Mabuse contributed to this report

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