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South Africa’s ex-leader Zuma barred from standing in election

South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma is barred from running for parliament in this month’s election, the country’s top court ruled on Monday, a judgment that could influence the outcome and trigger unrest from Zuma’s supporters.

The constitutional court ruled that Zuma’s 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court in 2021 disqualified him from standing in the May 29 election, as the constitution prohibits anyone given a prison sentence of 12 months or longer from holding a parliamentary seat.

“It is declared 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,” its ruling said.

Zuma, who was forced to quit as president in 2018, has fallen out with the governing African National Congress (ANC) and has been campaigning for a new party called uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) named after the ANC’s former armed wing.

MK secretary-general Sihle Ngubane told local reporters that Monday’s judgment did not affect its campaign. He added that the party’s leadership would meet and take direction from Zuma on the way forward.

Opinion polls suggest the ANC’s majority is at risk after 30 years in power, and MK represents a threat to it, especially in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal where he remains popular.

In 2021 Zuma’s jailing triggered riots in KwaZulu-Natal in which more than 300 people died and which morphed into a wider spate of looting.

Source: Reuters

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