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South Africa’s Top Court Bars Jacob Zuma from Running for Parliament in Upcoming Election

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South Africa’s highest court ruled on Monday that former president Jacob Zuma cannot run for parliament in the upcoming election, a decision that could impact the results.

Zuma, ousted from the presidency in 2018, has split from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and is now promoting a new party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), named after the ANC’s former armed wing.

With the ANC’s majority under threat after three decades in power, MK poses a significant challenge, particularly in Zuma’s stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal, where he remains popular.

The constitutional court case arose after the South African electoral commission disqualified Zuma in March, citing a constitutional clause that bars anyone sentenced to 12 months or more from serving in parliament. Zuma received a 15-month prison sentence in 2021 for contempt of court after failing to appear at a corruption inquiry.

In April, a lower court overturned Jacob Zuma’s disqualification, interpreting the constitution as applying only to those who had the opportunity to appeal their sentences, which was not the case for Zuma. The electoral commission contested this ruling, leading to the constitutional court’s involvement.

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The constitutional court’s ruling stated, “Mr. Zuma was convicted of an offence 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.”

Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment in 2021 sparked riots in KwaZulu-Natal, resulting in over 300 deaths and widespread looting.

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