From the blog

SOUTH AFRICA: Zuma’s Hope Of Returning To Power Dashed In High Court

South Africa’s highest court ruled on Monday that ex-president Jacob Zuma, who stepped down in 2018 amid a swirl of corruption allegations, is ineligible to contest a National Assembly seat in the vote next week.

It comes after he was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 for contempt of court after he refused to testify at a judicial inquiry into government corruption.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court cited a section of the constitution which disqualifies people from standing for office if they have been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison without the option of a fine – and said it applied to the 82-year-old ex-president.

Judges said he would only be able to serve as an MP five years after his sentence had been completed.

The ruling comes two days after Zuma launched the manifesto of his new party, uMkhonto We Sizwe (MK), in front of more than 30,000 supporters at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto – the heartland of his former party the African National Congress (ANC).

The ANC is struggling to hold on to its parliamentary majority and MK threatens to split the vote owing to Zuma’s influence over his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, the largest voting bloc.

However, MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela tried to reassure Zuma loyalists who have been following the party for him alone saying: “We will take control.

“President Zuma does not have to be the president, he is still the brains behind any president that will be deployed.”

Zuma, who is still facing a corruption trial scheduled for April 2025 is still quite popular among his supporters and that could be key if MK is to make any meaningful strides towards power.

With the prestige of a parliamentary seat just out of reach, the man and his party will need to appeal the court’s ruling – or appeal to his fan base to maintain their negotiation power with the ruling ANC.