Court declares Jacob Zuma ineligible to run for South African parliament



Jacob Zuma has been campaigning for a new party called uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), named after the ANC’s former armed wing. Photograph: Jérôme Delay/AP

South Africa's highest court has ruled that former president Jacob Zuma cannot run for parliament in the country's national elections on 29 May. The constitutional court found Zuma ineligible to stand for election due to a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court in 2021, after he failed to appear before a corruption inquiry. Zuma was president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, when he was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party amid graft allegations. He has waged a bitter feud with current president Cyril Ramaphosa and is now the figurehead of the new uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) party, named after the ANC’s armed wing during apartheid.

The MK party, launched in December, polled above 8% in a survey published in April by Ipsos, which said it was carving off votes from the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, particularly in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Most surveys predict the ANC will lose its majority for the first time since apartheid ended, although polls usually underestimate its support.

The MK party is targeting a two-thirds majority to implement radical policies, including nationalising the central bank and large banks and mines. Zuma served just two months of his prison sentence in 2021, before being released on medical parole. His imprisonment in 2021 triggered riots in which more than 300 people died.

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