Zuma barred from elections Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg. — Former South African president has been barred from elections.

Jacob Zuma’s jail sentence for contempt in 2021 disqualifies him from being a candidate, the Constitutional Court has ruled.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court on Monday barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for a seat in the National Assembly in elections scheduled for next week, citing a previous conviction as the reason.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021, after he was found to have refused to attend a court-ordered tribunal that investigated systematic corruption in state institutions during his presidency between 2009 and 2018.

He served just two months and was released under a ‘special remission’ pardon scheme introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which granted release to thousands of non-violent inmates and aimed to ease overcrowding concerns in prisons.

“It is declared that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offense 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,” the court ruled.

South Africans will vote for a new parliament on May 29, which will then elect a president one month later.

Last month, Zuma, 82, officially became leader of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new opposition party he joined last year after defecting from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) — the party that helped him win two presidential elections.

This came after the South African Electoral Court reversed an earlier decision by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in March that blocked Zuma from being a candidate due to his conviction.

Under South African law, people who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than a year in prison without the option of a fine are ineligible to run for office.

In overturning the disqualification, the Electoral Court ruled that the relevant section of the constitution only applied to people who had the right to appeal their sentences, which was not the case with Zuma.The IEC filed an appeal with Constitutional Court late in April.

“Now that the matter has been settled by the highest Court and given that the constitutional uncertainties have been clarified, the Commission can continue with final preparations for free and fair 2024 National and Provincial Elections (NPE) single-mindedly, without apprehension that the elections are susceptible to challenge,” the IEC said in a statement after the ruling.

Sihle Ngubane, secretary-general of Zuma’s MK Party, said the coalition is “disappointed about the judgment,” adding that “President Zuma” will be retained on the ballot.

“This (the court ruling) should send a message to all UMkhonto Wesizwe Commanders, to go out in numbers and vote for MK on the 29th of May 2024 so we can amend the constitution,” the party wrote on X (formerly Twitter) — Russia Today

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