South Africa’s ex-leader Zuma barred from election

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma cannot run for parliament in this month’s election, the country’s top court ruled on Monday.

The constitutional court stated that Zuma’s 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court in 2021 disqualifies him from the May 29 election due to a constitutional rule barring those with prison sentences of 12 months or longer from holding parliamentary seats.

Zuma, ousted as president in 2018, has been promoting a new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), named after the ANC’s former armed wing. Polls indicate the ANC’s majority is at risk, especially in Zuma’s stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa dismissed concerns about potential violence following the ruling, emphasizing the rule of law and readiness of security forces. Zuma’s 2021 imprisonment had sparked riots, resulting in over 300 deaths.

The electoral commission initially disqualified Zuma in March, but a court later overturned this decision. The commission then appealed to the constitutional court.

Despite his disqualification, Zuma’s face will remain on the ballot as MK’s leader. An Ipsos poll showed MK with 8% support, while the ANC holds just over 40%. The ANC may need coalition partners if its support falls below 50%, a first since Nelson Mandela’s era.

At a recent rally, Zuma promised free education and job creation to his supporters.

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