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South Africa seeks legal clarity on Zuma candidacy from court

South Africa seeks legal clarity on Zuma candidacy from court www.whoownsafrica.com South Africa seeks legal clarity on Zuma candidacy from court www.whoownsafrica.com
South African President Jacob Zuma addresses members of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new opposition party that has become a potential upsetter in the South Africa May 29 election, outside the High Court in Johannesburg on April 11, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET/AFP via Getty Images)

South Africa’s electoral commission is facing a significant challenge as it grapples with the issue of whether former President Jacob Zuma can stand as a candidate in the upcoming general elections scheduled for May.

The commission has taken the unprecedented step of appealing to the country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, to provide clarity on the interpretation of the constitutional article regarding the candidacies of individuals with past convictions.

South Africa seeks legal clarity on Zuma candidacy from court www.whoownsafrica.com
FILE PHOTO: Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who is facing fraud and corruption charges, sings after his appearance in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Rogan Ward/File Photo/File Photo

This appeal comes after a series of legal battles over Zuma’s eligibility to contest in the elections. Just this week, an electoral court overturned a previous decision barring Zuma from running for office, paving the way for his potential candidacy as the flagbearer of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK).

Zuma, an 81-year-old politician, joined the MK party last year after parting ways with the African National Congress (ANC), the party he once led.

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The upcoming elections on May 29 will see South Africans casting their votes to elect members of the General Assembly. A month later, the newly elected parliament will convene to select the next president of the country.

Zuma’s affiliation with the MK party has raised hopes within the party of securing parliament seats and potentially weakening the stronghold of the ANC.

The African National Congress (ANC) is facing the possibility of its vote share dropping below 50 percent for the first time since 1994, which would force them to seek coalition partners to remain in power.

This situation could potentially turn former President Zuma into a kingmaker, according to analysts.

Some opinion polls indicate that the Inkatha Freedom Party (MK) could secure above 10 percent of the national vote, making it the third or fourth largest political force behind the ANC and the Democratic Alliance.

MK is expected to perform strongly in the key region of KwaZulu-Natal, which is Zuma’s home province. Zuma still holds significant political influence despite facing numerous scandals and corruption allegations, particularly among the Zulu population.

The electoral commission initially disqualified Zuma from running in the elections due to a prison sentence he received, but this decision was appealed.

South Africa seeks legal clarity on Zuma candidacy from court www.whoownsafrica.com
South African President Jacob Zuma addresses members of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new opposition party that has become a potential upsetter in the South Africa May 29 election, outside the High Court in Johannesburg on April 11, 2024. (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET / AFP) (Photo by EMMANUEL CROSET/AFP via Getty Images)

Zuma’s legal team argued that the sentence was related to a civil matter rather than a criminal one, and he was eventually released on medical parole after serving only two months of his sentence.

The commission has emphasized that its role is to ensure a fair and free electoral process, without interfering in the political landscape.

This upcoming election is seen as a crucial moment for South Africa’s democracy, as it will determine the future direction of the country’s governance.

The electoral commission’s decision to seek court intervention reflects the complexity and sensitivity of the issue at hand. Clarity on the eligibility of candidates with prior convictions is crucial not only for the current situation surrounding Zuma but also for future elections in the country.

The outcome of this legal battle will have far-reaching implications on the political landscape of South Africa and the potential outcome of the upcoming elections.

As South Africa braces for a politically charged electoral season, the decision of the Constitutional Court on Zuma’s candidacy will undoubtedly shape the trajectory of the country’s democratic process.

The electoral commission’s proactive stance in seeking judicial guidance underscores the importance of upholding the rule of law and ensuring a fair and transparent electoral system.


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