Zuma in final bid to have graft charges dropped

The appeals court on Monday overturned a lower court ruling in September dismissing the graft charges against Zuma.

This opened the way for prosecutors to pursue charges against him only months before he is expected to stand for election as president. Investors’ worries about the effect of the ruling on economic stability depressed the rand.

"The application to the Constitutional Court now takes priority," Zuma’s lawyer told local SAfm radio. He did not elaborate.

The ruling African National Congress faces its biggest electoral challenge in a vote expected in April.

Re-opening the case will damage Zuma’s image and could increase uncertainty in Africa’s biggest economy. On Monday, the rand currency fell to a one-month low as investors worried about the impact of the ruling on the economy.

The September ruling led to the ANC ousting former President Thabo Mbeki, Zuma’s longstanding rival, but also split the party which has been in power since apartheid ended in 1994.

Mbeki’s supporters have since formed a dissident party, COPE, which poses the first real challenge to the ANC in 15 years.