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Jacob Zuma was forced to resign as president in 2018 after a series of corruption scandals. (Nic Bothma/Pool via AP via CNN Newsource)

Ex-president Zuma not eligible for election

May 20, 2024

By David McKenzie, CNN

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) — South Africa’s apex court has ruled that former president Jacob Zuma is not eligible to run for parliament in next week’s critical general election.

The unanimous ruling capped months long speculation and legal wrangling on whether the former leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), turned thorn in its side and public face of a rival party, would be able to stand for the country’s top legislative body.

Zuma was forced to resign as president in 2018 after a series of corruption scandals and internal infighting in the ANC. He was found guilty of contempt of court by the same constitutional court for his refusal to testify to an anti-corruption commission.

It is that sentence that barred him from running, the court ruled on Monday.

“(Zuma) Is accordingly not eligible to be a member of and not qualified to stand for election to the national assembly until five years have elapsed since the completion of his sentence,” read Justice Leona Theron.

“We welcomed the judgement, and we think it is well reasoned. A contempt of court sentence is an extremely important sentence, and it is a sentence that cannot be treated lightly. The constitutional court has reaffirmed this,” said Neeshan Balton, of the Ahmed Kathrada foundation on local television.

ANC majority under threat

Zuma and his newly formed uMkhonto WeSizwe Party represent a spoiler threat to the ANC, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal province. And ANC insiders fear they could eat away at the ruling party’s support there.

The vote on May 29th could be the sternest test yet for the party of Nelson Mandela with scores of opposition parties vying for ballots. Many analysts believe that the party’s majority is under threat. While the court ruled that Zuma is not eligible to run for MP, his party will still contest the election and his face will remain on the ballot.

Nhlamulo Ndhlela, a party leader of uMkhonto WeSizwe, told CNNthe court is biased against the former president and they plan to continue campaigning.

“It doesn’t change President Zuma being on the ballot and it doesn’t stop him from leading the party,” Ndhlela said.

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