Top court bars former President Zuma from South African elections

Cape Town, May 20 (IANS/DPA) South Africa’s highest court ruled on Monday that former President Jacob Zuma cannot stand as a candidate in next week’s general elections because a 2021 conviction for contempt of court has disqualified him.

The Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma’s sentence of more than 12 months in prison had made him ineligible to stand.

His former party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), suspended Zuma, 82, in January. He has since founded a new party, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and intended to stand as chairman of the party in the May 29 elections.

The Constitutional Court ruling reverses an earlier ruling by a lower court allowing Zuma to stand in the elections.

The elections are seen as the most significant since freedom fighter and later President Nelson Mandela led the country to democracy in 1994. Polls indicate that the ANC could for the first time lose its absolute majority and be forced to seek a coalition partner.

Under the constitution, the President is appointed by parliament and not directly elected.

President from 2009 to 2018, Zuma was forced from office on grounds of corruption. In 2021 he was handed a 15-month prison term after refusing to give evidence to a committee investigating nepotism and corruption during his period in office.

His arrest provoked riots in which some 350 people were killed and hundreds of businesses were looted and firebombed.

Zuma served less than eight weeks in prison before being released on grounds of poor health.

–IANS/DPA

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