High official in S. African party goes to court on rape charge


December 07, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- Jacob Zuma, the deputy leader of the governing African National Congress party who was once seen by many as the potential heir apparent to South Africa's president, appeared in court yesterday charged with raping a family friend after inviting her to his home and offering her a massage.

Zuma was removed in June from the post of deputy president in the wake of corruption charges. The populist Zuma was able to rally support in his power base, the ANC Youth League, unions and the South African Communist Party after the corruption charges.

Zuma's allies maintain that the rape charges are part of a conspiracy to undermine his chances of becoming president. Nonetheless, some analysts said it would be difficult for Zuma to recover politically from the dual blows of two drawn-out court cases.

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