South Africa: Former President Jacob Zuma may finally be a candidate in the legislative elections

Former President Jacob Zuma will be a candidate in the legislative elections in South Africa, the courts having overturned, on Tuesday April 9, a recent decision by the Electoral Commission (IEC) pronouncing his exclusion from the vote

South Africa: Former President Jacob Zuma may finally be a candidate in the legislative elections

Former President Jacob Zuma will be a candidate in the legislative elections in South Africa, the courts having overturned, on Tuesday April 9, a recent decision by the Electoral Commission (IEC) pronouncing his exclusion from the vote. “The appeal is accepted,” ruled the electoral court in a decision consulted by Agence France-Presse. South Africans will vote on May 29 to renew their Parliament, which will then choose the next president. At the end of March, the IEC thwarted the wishes of Jacob Zuma, 81, by invalidating his candidacy. His party took legal action on Tuesday April 2 to have this decision overturned.

Jacob Zuma is a candidate on the list of the recently created small radical party The Nation's Spearhead (Umkhonto we Sizwe, MK). Former pillar of the African National Congress (ANC), in power for thirty years, this major player in the fight against apartheid created a surprise by announcing in December 2023 to support the MK. The ANC, mired in business and held responsible for an economy weighed down by endemic unemployment and growing poverty, fears losing its parliamentary majority for the first time and being forced to form a coalition government.

The IEC did not clearly explain the reasons for the initial exclusion of Jacob Zuma; the commission simply recalled the eligibility conditions provided for by the Constitution and underlining in particular that a person sentenced to a prison sentence more than twelve months cannot apply. Still prosecuted for corruption, the former president (2009-2018) was sentenced in 2021 to fifteen months in prison for contempt.

He was released on parole less than three months after his incarceration for health reasons. The highest court in the country then ruled that Jacob Zuma should return to prison, but the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, ultimately reduced his sentence. At a hearing in Johannesburg on Monday, MK's lawyer tried to argue that "the final sentence, following remission, is three months." The final lists of candidates are due to be published on Wednesday.