Former South Africa Leader Jacob Zuma Is Barred from Running in Elections, Election Authority Says

Former South African President Jacob Zuma addresses supporters of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) in Durban, South Africa, Wednesday, March 27, 2024. Zuma’s new party is involved in a copyright infringement case brought by the ruling African National Congress he used to lead. The ANC says MK is illegally using the name and a similar logo of the now disbanded military wing of the ANC that was called uMkhonto weSizwe. (AP Photo)

Former South African President Jacob Zuma is not eligible to run in upcoming elections, the Independent Electoral Commission has ruled.

The commission said at a media briefing on Thursday that it had upheld an objection against Zuma’s candidacy in the May 29 elections.

In July 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying a court order to appear before a judicial commission that was investigating corruption allegations during his 2009-2018 presidency. He was granted medical parole after two months and allowed to serve the rest of the sentence under house arrest.

South Africa’s Constitution bars people convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment, without an option of a fine, from holding public office.

Zuma and his legal team stormed out of the judicial proceedings when he was asked about wide-ranging allegations of corruption during his rule, including the role of an Indian family, the Guptas, who allegedly had influence over his Cabinet appointments.

Zuma, 81, has until April 2 to appeal the commission’s ruling.

He is the now face of a new political party, uMkhonto weSizwe Party, abbreviated as MK, that has emerged as a potentially significant player in South Africa’s upcoming elections after he denounced the governing African National Congress, which he had previously led.

The new party is named after the former military wing of the ANC which was disbanded at the end of white minority rule and racial segregation policies under the former apartheid regime.

Zuma’s announcement that he is leaving the ANC has been one of the notable developments ahead of the elections.

His face is on the MK Party’s election posters, he is the party’s most prominent figure and the main speaker at their election rallies.

His battle against the ANC has landed in some of the country’s highest courts, with the MK Party scoring a victory this week when a court ruled against the ANC’s application to deregister the MK Party and ban it from participating in the elections.

In a separate case, the ANC is contesting the MK Party’s use of its name and logo, which closely resembles that of the ANC’s former military wing.

Local news outlet News24 reported that Zuma was involved in a car accident on Thursday, but was unharmed.

– Mogomotsi Magome, AP News

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