Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Days to election, South African court bars former President Zuma from contesting

The South African apex court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for parliament seat days before the country’s election.

• May 20, 2024
Jacob Zuma
Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma

The South African apex court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for parliament seat days before the country’s election.

Mr Zuma was disqualified for the May 29 election based on his 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court in 2021. 

“It is declared that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment,… and is accordingly not eligible to be a member of, and not qualified to stand for election to, the National Assembly,” South Africa’s constitutional court said in its ruling on Monday.

In March, the South African electoral commission first disqualified the former South African leader. But, a court quashed the decision.

The electoral body then approached the apex court to adjudicate on the matter.

In 2018, Mr Zuma was pressured to resign from his party, the ANC, over allegations of corruption. 

Having fallen out with his party, Mr Zuma floated a new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), named after the ANC’s former armed wing during Nelson Mandela’s time. 

Among hordes of MK supporters holding posters with Mr Zuma’s face outside the court, MK Party’s national secretary, Sihle Ngubane, expressed disappointment in the court judgment.

“We are disappointed about the judgement. But I’d like to emphasise this: former President Jacob Zuma will be on the ballot paper when we are going to vote. When we leave here, President Zuma will lead us on what to do,” Mr Ngubane said.

Mr Zuma’s imprisonment in 2021 triggered riots that led to the death of over 300 people in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Asked if Mr Zuma’s disqualification would not trigger violence, President Cyril Ramaphosa in an interview with local radio 702 on Monday, said, “I’m not concerned about this instigating violence.”

Mr Ramaphosa added, “We have a rule of law in South Africa that governs us. Once a constitutional court has decided, that is it, and should there be any threat of violence, our security forces are ready.”

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