Mr Zuma was first tried for corruption in 2005, before charges were dropped. Recently prosecutors have said they were investigating new charges. Reports say the new charges also include racketeering and tax evasion. His position as party leader makes him a frontrunner to become South Africa’s president after elections in 2009.
“The Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) served on Mr Jacob Zuma an indictment to stand trial in the High Court on various counts of racketeering, money laundering, corruption and fraud,” Mr Zuma’s attorney, Michael Hulley, said in an e-mail received by the AFP news agency. “According to the indictment… the trial is to proceed on 14 August 2008,” he said. “These charges will be vigorously defended, in the context of the belief that the Scorpions have acted wrongly and with improper motive calculated to discredit Mr Zuma and ensure that he plays no leadership role in the political future of our country,” Mr Hulley said in a later statement.
Mr Zuma was formerly South Africa’s deputy president, before being fired in 2005 when his financial adviser, Schabir Schaik, was found guilty of corruption and jailed for 15 years in connection with the arms deal. The charges are believed to be linked to a controversial $5bn arms procurement deal by the South African government in 1999.
Last year he was acquitted on charges of rape, in a trial which led to his temporary suspension from his ANC duties. Mr Zuma has always maintained his innocence. Before being elected to the ANC leadership, he told the BBC if fresh charges were brought against him he would not stand down from office unless he were found guilty.
His supporters say that the charges against him are part of a political conspiracy. After the rape trial he consolidated his support within the ANC and gained a clear victory over President Thabo Mbeki in the party leadership contest.