SA’s ConCourt barres Zuma from serving in parliament

Niël Terblanché

South Africa’s highest court has ruled that former President Jacob Zuma is barred from running for parliament in that country’s general election next week.

The Constitutional Court’s judgement hinges on Zuma’s 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, rendering him ineligible under the country’s constitution.

Zuma was convicted in 2021 for his refusal to testify at an inquiry into corruption during his presidency, which concluded in 2018.

Despite his imprisonment and subsequent release after three months by his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the court maintained that the original sentence disqualified him from serving in parliament.

The former president has been campaigning under the banner of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, following a fallout with the African National Congress (ANC).

MK Secretary General Sihle Ngubane expressed disappointment with the court’s decision but insisted that it would not derail the party’s campaign for the 29 May election.
South Africa’s electoral system requires voters to cast ballots for political parties rather than individual candidates.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling means Zuma’s name will be removed from MK’s list of parliamentary candidates, though his image will still appear on the ballot papers alongside the party’s logo.

Justice Leona Theron delivered the unanimous judgement and stated that South Africa’s constitution bars anyone sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, without the option of a fine, from serving in parliament to safeguard the integrity of the democratic system.
MK has faced internal strife since last month, with Zuma ascending to party leadership after ousting its founding leader, Jabulani Khumalo. Zuma maintains his leadership despite the court’s ruling.

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