Constitutional Court Ruling Bars Jacob Zuma From Running as Parliamentary Candidate

South Africa’s highest legal authority has ruled today that Jacob Zuma, leader of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), cannot run as a parliamentary candidate in the country’s upcoming elections due to his 2021 conviction for contempt of court.

What You Need to Know:

The nation’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the MKP had been locked in a legal battle beginning in late March, when the ANC brought the MKP to the Electoral Court over claims that the party had submitted a supplemented registration application to the Independent Electoral Commission.

The Electoral Court ruled against the ANC on that matter, which then prompted the ruling party to submit objections against three of the MKP’s parliamentary candidates, Zuma included.

The objection claimed that Zuma, who had been convicted in for refusing to testify during a 2021 corruption inquiry, was ineligible to run as a parliamentary candidate due to a constitutional law which bars the appearance of candidates who had received a prison sentence within the last five years of 12 months or longer.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his refusal to testify in the inquiry, serving just two months of his sentence at Estcourt Prison in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) before being released by President Cyril Ramaphosa. When news of Zuma’s jailing broke, mass riots broke out in his home province of KZN, with hundreds of shops looted and burnt. 354 people died as a result.

The Details:

“It is declared that Mr. Zuma was convicted of an offense 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,” the Constitutional Court announced. According to the Court, Zuma shall only become eligible to run as a parliamentary candidate after five years have passed since the completion of his sentence.

So, What Now?:

The Constitutional Court’s ruling has raised various questions over who is to become the MKP’s lead candidate in the national assembly. Although Zuma will remain the party’s de facto leader, it is currently unclear which member/s Zuma will put his support behind.

Additionally, as South African political analysts have outlined, the Court’s ruling and Zuma’s subsequent actions will provide South African voters valuable insights into the veteran politician’s true motives within the nation’s politics.

Furthermore, with the MKP morphing from a standard party led by Jabulani Khumalo to the ‘Zuma party’, it is not yet clear how its supporters will take to having to back a different candidate; particularly due to the fact that much of the MKP’s support lies in Zuma’s home province of KZN.

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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