Former president Jacob Zuma gets his day in court

By Derek Alberts and Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) – Former South African President Jacob Zuma lost a court bid to have a graft case against him that dates back to the 1990s scrapped.

The ruling by the High Court in the eastern town of Pietermaritzburg on Friday clears the way for Zuma’s trial to begin on Oct. 15. He faces 16 charges, including money laundering and racketeering.

Prosecutors spent eight years investigating allegations that Zuma, 77, took R4.07m ($270,000) in bribes from arms dealers. They abandoned the case months before he became president in 2009, saying taped phone calls indicated that the chief investigator Leonard McCarthy may have used the case to frustrate Zuma’s efforts to win control of the ruling African National Congress.

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In October last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a lower court ruling that the decision not to pursue the case was “irrational.” While that judgment paved the way for the trial to proceed, prosecutors allowed Zuma to make representations why it should be abandoned.

Zuma has also been implicated in a succession of other scandals during his nine-year tenure as president, but hasn’t been charged in connection with any of those. He quit in February last year under pressure from the ANC and was replaced by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. He’s denied wrongdoing and dismissed the allegations against him as a political conspiracy.