Jacob Zuma Files Appeal Against Exclusion From May Vote

Former South African President Jacob Zuma filed an appeal on Tuesday against a decision by electoral officials to prevent him from standing in elections, as tensions rise ahead of the May polls.

The 81-year-old politician, who is campaigning for a new opposition group, was barred by the election commission last week because to a 2021 contempt of court sentence.

However, in court documents obtained by AFP, attorneys for Zuma and the party contended that the sentence did not disqualify him because it was based on civil rather than criminal procedures.

The election commission “had no valid reasons to violate President Zuma’s political rights,” the papers stated.

“(Zuma) was not an accused, he was not charged with an offence by a criminal court, he was not involved in any criminal trial proceedings” .

South Africa will hold general elections on May 29 in what is considered to be the most contested election since the establishment of democracy in 1994.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is struggling in the polls and faces losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid, owing to a sluggish economy and allegations of corruption and incompetence.

Zuma’s new uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party is one of the parties looking to take advantage of the ANC’s weaknesses.

Named after the ANC’s old military wing during the anti-apartheid struggle, it appears to be on track to capture a sizable proportion of the vote in the battleground region of KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province, with some surveys putting it at 13% nationally.

It is largely based on Zuma’s substantial political clout, which, despite scandals and graft charges, remains popular, particularly among the country’s more than 10 million Zulus.


He was the fourth president of democratic South Africa, serving from 2009 to 2018, and he has long been furious about how he was driven out of power amid corruption charges.

In a bid to rebuild his career, he has campaigned for MK and blasted members of his former political home, the ANC, as “traitors” and “sellouts”.

However, the electoral commission announced last week that he would be unable to run in May because, according to the constitution, “any person who was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine” cannot run in an election.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 for refusing to testify before a commission investigating financial wrongdoing and favoritism during his administration.

He was released on medical parole only two months into his sentence.

However, his imprisonment provoked protests, riots, and looting, resulting in more than 350 deaths in South Africa’s worst bloodshed since the dawn of democracy.

An appeals court later determined that Zuma’s release was unlawful and ordered his return to prison.

When he returned to a detention facility, he was quickly granted a remission of nonviolent criminals endorsed by his arch-rival and successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Tensions between the ANC and MK have escalated in recent weeks.

The former has unsuccessfully attempted to disqualify the latter and has taken it to court to prevent it from utilizing the MK name, citing intellectual property theft.

MK leader Visvin Reddy is scheduled to appear in court again on Wednesday for allegedly inciting violence in a viral online video in which he says major riots will break out if the MK is not allowed to run.

Reddy rejects the charges.

The electoral court in Bloemfontein is likely to rule on Zuma’s expulsion from the contest next week.

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