Jacob Zuma appears in court charged with corruption

Former president Jacob Zuma will on Friday appear in court over 16 charges of fraud corruption and money laundering

The accusations relate to a multi-billion-dollar arms deal signed in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president.

This was the only concrete takeaway from Zuma's inaugural appearance at the Durban High Court on Friday, where he took his place in the dock alongside a representative of French arms company Thales.

He alleged that the judiciary and politicians believed that he did not have rights.

"What we are saying, what the former president is saying, is true - we don't think we are going to get a fair trial", said a supporter, Bishop Timothy Ngcobo who appeared on stage alongside Zuma.

The case is unlikely to be heard before the end of this year, according to legal experts, given Mr Zuma is challenging the decision to prosecute him.

"Our country's Constitution states that the accused is innocent until proven guilty". Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

"Then there will be a fight over who will pay Zuma's legal fees".

But this time around Mr Ramaphosa is keen to distance the party from Mr Zuma as it prepares for a hotly contested national election next year.

The former president thanked his supporters for prayers before taking an indirect swipe at the ANC for deciding against rallying behind him. The former leader was recently deployed to KwaZulu-Natal, the province with the biggest number of ANC supporters, to drum up support during a voter-registration drive.

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In February, Mr Zuma resigned following intense pressure from the ANC party. It called on party members who wanted to show their support, to do so in their individual capacities and not through party structures.

Groups representing churches, women and youth were among the thousands of backers.

The state prosecutor said that all the lawyers were in agreement that a postponement until 8 June was satisfactory: a point subsequently confirmed by advocate Hoosen Gani, in court for Zuma.

A glib Zuma‚ wearing a broad grin‚ was met with rapturous applause outside the Durban High Court.

The message resonates among many people who resent the fact that much of the economy remains in the hands of the white minority despite the advent of democracy. "They are still after me". Zuma's backers have long argued that, while other ANC officials implicated in the arms deal were never charged, Zuma was singled out for political reasons.

Zuma launched his bid for appeal of the judgment and the personal costs order a week after the ruling.

His supporters say he is again being singled out after losing a power struggle to Ramaphosa.

BBC reports that the charges which dogged Zuma's presidency were reinstated in 2016.

- May 2009: Zuma is sworn in as South Africa's president.

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