South African court rules Zuma ‘ineligible’ to run for parliament | Elections News

The Constitutional Court says the 2021 contempt of court conviction disqualifies the former president from the May 29 election.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma has been banned from running for parliament in next week’s general election.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the 15-month prison sentence imposed on Zuma for contempt of court in 2021 disqualifies him from standing in the May 29 election. The ruling is likely to increase political tension ahead of the crucial vote.

The ruling is based on the South African Constitution, which prohibits anyone sentenced to a prison sentence of 12 months or more from holding a parliamentary seat.

“Mr Zuma is hereby declared guilty of an offense and sentenced to more than 12 months in prison… and is consequently ineligible for membership and not qualified to stand for election to the National Assembly,” it said. the court. .

Zuma, 82, who was forced to resign as president in 2018, has fallen out with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and has been campaigning for the new uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party.

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

Zuma’s imprisonment in 2021 sparked deadly riots in the province, with more than 300 people killed and a widespread series of looting.

President Cyril Ramaphosa promised in comments to South African media that authorities will clamp down on any unrest. “I’m not worried about instigating violence,” he said. “We have a rule of law in South Africa that governs us. “Once a Constitutional Court has decided, that is it and, in case there is any threat of violence, our security forces are prepared.”

‘Face’ of the MK party

Zuma was initially disqualified by the South African Electoral Commission (IEC), which conducts elections in the country. However, he won an appeal to the Electoral Tribunal, which said that since he had no appeal options against the contempt ruling, it did not apply to his situation.

The Constitutional Court overturned that on Monday. He said Zuma will not be allowed to run for parliament for five years after he served his sentence.

However, even with Zuma disqualified from standing, his face will still appear on this month’s ballot as he is the registered leader of MK.

Zuma can also appeal the court’s decision, said Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller, reporting from Johannesburg after the court ruling, but it remains to be seen whether he will do so.

“The question is whether or not this makes a big difference for Zuma specifically. He is still the leader of the MK party…he can still appear on the ballot as the face of the party. For many MK party supporters, it may not make much of a difference,” Miller said.

“It is not known whether Jacob Zuma was planning to take a seat in parliament,” the correspondent added.

If Zuma were a member of parliament, “he would lose the benefits he has as a former president, whether it be his pension or his security.”

Zuma was president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, but resigned under a cloud of corruption allegations, and his legal problems during his term continue.

He faces corruption charges in a separate case that is expected to go to trial next April. He has pleaded not guilty.

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