May 29, 2024

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Jacob Zuma’s Electoral Ban Overturned, Can Contest May’s Elections

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has been granted permission to participate in the upcoming general election in May, following the reversal of a ban on his candidacy by an electoral court.

Initially barred by the electoral commission due to a contempt of court conviction last month, Zuma was excluded on the grounds that the constitution prohibits individuals convicted of a crime and sentenced to over 12 months in prison from holding public office.

Zuma, aged 81, has been actively campaigning for the newly formed uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, marking a significant move away from his former allegiance to the ruling African National Congress (ANC). During his tenure as president from 2009 to 2018, Zuma faced controversy and ultimately resigned amid corruption allegations.

In 2021, he was handed a 15-month jail sentence for his failure to testify in a corruption inquiry, serving only three months before being released on medical grounds.

The court’s decision to overturn the ban on Zuma’s candidature is expected to have far-reaching implications for the outcome of the impending election. As the prominent face of the newly established MK opposition party, which draws its name from the ANC’s historical military wing, Zuma positions himself as the authentic inheritor of the ANC’s revolutionary legacy, once embodied by Nelson Mandela.

With Zuma now eligible to contest as the leading candidate for the MK party, his participation could sway the election’s trajectory. In South Africa’s electoral system, voters elect members of the National Assembly, and the head of the party securing a majority typically assumes the presidency, although alternative candidates may also be proposed.

The court’s decision presents a setback for the ANC, which, after three decades in power, faces the prospect of a challenging electoral battle. Several opinion polls indicate a potential drop in the ANC’s vote share below 50%, a significant shift since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Notably, the MK party enjoys substantial support in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, further complicating the electoral landscape and underscoring the evolving dynamics of South African politics.