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HomeNewsZuma ‘Not Eligible’ For Presidential Election - South Africa’s Court Rules

Zuma ‘Not Eligible’ For Presidential Election – South Africa’s Court Rules

South Africa’s top court ruled Monday that graft-tainted former president turned firebrand opposition challenger Jacob Zuma is ineligible to stand for parliament in next week’s general election.

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The decision will outrage Zuma’s supporters and stoke fears of violent unrest in the run-up to the May 29 poll, already the most competitive since the advent of post-apartheid democracy in 1994.

The top court threw out Zuma’s complaint against an electoral commission decision that a previous conviction for contempt prevents him from becoming an MP, ruling that the constitution bars anyone sentenced to more than 12 months in jail.

Zuma, who left office in 2018 dogged by corruption allegations, was convicted of contempt of court during a case in 2021 and sentenced to 15 months. He eventually served less than three months in jail, but the court ruled this remission irrelevant.

“This court concludes that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence 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,” Justice Leona Theron said, reading the judgment.

After a South African general election, the president is chosen by MPs from among their own ranks, so if Zuma is not on the ballot he could not become president, even if his newly-formed party is able to muster enough seats to propose him.

Supporters gathered in the streets around the court, some of them in the military fatigues often worn by members of his uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, are determined to win enough seats — two thirds of the National Assembly — to change the constitution.

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