South Africa’s former President Zuma barred from running in upcoming elections

South Africa’s Electoral Commission said Thursday it has disqualified former President Jacob Zuma from contesting for a seat in parliament in the forthcoming election to be held on May 29. 

The commission said it has notified Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party that he is not eligible to contest for a seat in parliament.

South Africa’s constitution does not allow an individual convicted for more than a year to hold public office.

In July 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail for contempt of court for refusing to testify before a judicial commission investigating corruption during his nearly decade-long presidency.

He was, however, released from prison on medical parole after just two months to serve his sentence under house arrest.

Zuma, 81, led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the country for nearly a decade, but announced last December he would not vote or campaign for the party in the May 2024 elections.

The Electoral Commission said Zuma has now until April 2 to appeal against his ineligibility.

In January, the ANC suspended Zuma, a party member for 60 years, in another sign of the growing rift between him and current President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This week, the ANC lost a court bid seeking to deregister the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, backed by Zuma.

The ANC which has ruled South Africa for three decades took the MK and the Electoral Commission to court stating that the newly formed party did not meet the requirements when it was registered last September.
It also argued that Masego Sheburi, the deputy chief electoral officer, acted unlawfully when he registered the party.

Dismissing the ANC’s application, Judge Lebogang Modiba said: “We find there is nothing unlawful about the registration of MK party by the deputy chief electoral officer.”

A recent study by the Social Research Foundation think tank says the MK party is in a position where it could cut by half the ANC’s support in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’s most populous province where Zuma hails from.

Analysts believe the May elections could be a turning point for South Africa, where the ANC could be left without a majority for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The ANC, which liberated South Africans from white minority rule and racial segregation, has secured more than 60% in all elections since 1994, barring 2019, when its parliamentary share dipped to 57.5%.

It currently has 230 seats in the 400-member National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, where members are elected by voters on a party-list proportional representation system.

Source: Anadolu Agency

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