South Africa’s Former President Zuma Barred from Parliamentary Run After Conviction

South Africa’s Constitutional Court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming national election scheduled for next week. This decision by the country’s highest court is likely to heighten political tensions ahead of a crucial vote in Africa’s most developed economy. Zuma, who leads a new political party, is challenging his former allies.

The court ruled that a constitutional provision disqualifying individuals from standing for Parliament if they have been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison without the option of a fine applies to the 82-year-old former leader. In 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the same court for contempt after refusing to testify at a judicial inquiry into government corruption.

According to the ruling, Zuma cannot serve as a lawmaker until five years after completing that sentence, which comes just nine days before the May 29 election.

Zuma, once the leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, was forced out as its leader in 2017 and resigned as president in 2018 amid allegations of corruption.

He returned to politics late last year with a new party and has renewed his fierce criticism of the ANC and current President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced him as both party leader and president.

While Zuma’s new party expressed disappointment with the court’s decision, it stated that the ruling has not discouraged them. However, the party criticized the court and the panel of judges that issued the ruling.

Next week’s election could be South Africa’s most significant in 30 years, with the struggling ANC facing the biggest challenge to its long rule since the end of apartheid in 1994.