Previous South African leader gets banned from elections

(MENAFN) On Monday, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that former President Jacob Zuma is ineligible to run for a seat in the National Assembly in the upcoming elections, citing his prior conviction as the disqualifying factor. Zuma, who served as the country's president from 2009 to 2018, was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 for defying a court order to appear before a tribunal investigating systemic corruption during his presidency. Although he served only two months of his sentence, he was released under a special remission scheme introduced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, designed to alleviate prison overcrowding by pardoning non-violent inmates.

The court's ruling was explicit: "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." This decision means Zuma cannot participate in the parliamentary elections scheduled for May 29, which will be followed by the election of a president by the new parliament one month later.

In a surprising political shift, Zuma, now 82, became the leader of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new opposition party he joined after leaving the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last year. This move came after the South African Electoral Court overturned a previous decision by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in March, which had blocked Zuma from candidacy due to his conviction.

South African law stipulates that individuals convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than a year in prison without the option of a fine are not eligible to run for office. This legal framework ultimately barred Zuma from seeking a parliamentary seat, despite his recent efforts to re-enter the political arena. The court's decision underscores the ongoing legal and political ramifications of Zuma's presidency and conviction.



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