updated 1/12/2009 6:29:13 AM ET 2009-01-12T11:29:13

A South African court cleared the way Monday for a new corruption trial against African National Congress leader and presidential hopeful Jacob Zuma.

The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a lower court's decision to throw out the case against Zuma. Supreme Court judge Louis Harms said the original ruling was riddled with errors and ignored basic legal standards.

The National Prosecuting Authority said it would now seek a date for Zuma to stand trial. Spokesman Tlali Tlali said the existing charges would stand — corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering relating to a multibillion-rand government arms deal in the late 1990s.

"Mr. Zuma is regarded as a charged person," Tlali said.

The judgment comes just two days after Zuma launched the ANC's manifesto for elections to be held in March or April. The ANC is expected to win a majority and says it wants Zuma to be president despite the corruption cloud that has hung over him for nearly a decade.

"The ANC reiterates its position that the judgment will not affect the decision of the ANC that Zuma be the ANC's presidential candidate for the 2009 elections," it said in a statement shortly after the televised hour-long ruling.

It said both the ruling party and Zuma reserved the right "to pursue all options available in law," including challenging Monday's ruling in the Constitutional Court.

Zuma was initially charged in 2005, but that case was dismissed on a technicality in 2006. He was recharged in December 2007, just days after being elected ANC president.

Harms was scathing about lower court judge Chris Nicholson who in September dismissed the case against Zuma. Nicholson said Zuma should have been consulted before he was charged in December 2007 and implied that the charges were the result of political meddling by Zuma's rival, former President Thabo Mbeki.

Nicholson's ruling led to the ouster of Mbeki as president.

Harms likened Nicholson to a football referee who "took his eye off the ball" and red-carded not only players but also spectators — meaning Mbeki.

He awarded full costs to the National Prosecuting Authority which appealed Nicholson's decision.

"It relied on incorrect principles and had the facts wrong," Harms said.

More on: Jacob Zuma | South Africa

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