South Africa court bars former president from contesting general election News
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South Africa court bars former president from contesting general election

The Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled Monday that former president Jacob Zuma is disqualified from running for a seat in Parliament in the upcoming national election due to a prior criminal conviction.

The court said in its order:

It is declared that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment for purposes of section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution and is accordingly not eligible to be a member of, and not qualified to stand for election to, the National Assembly until five years have elapsed since the completion of his sentence.

Zuma was set to stand as a candidate for uMkhonto weSizwe. This new political party aims to challenge the long-standing African National Congress, which has held power in the country since the end of apartheid thirty years ago.

In the ruling, the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg clarified that Zuma is ineligible to serve as a lawmaker until five years after completing his criminal sentence. This decision, which came just nine days before the May 29 election, overturned a previous ruling by a lower court that had permitted Zuma to run in the polls.

Zuma, the former leader of the African National Congress, was compelled to step down as president in 2018 due to a string of corruption scandals and internal conflicts within the ANC. The former leader of ANC was declared guilty of contempt of court by the constitutional court due to his refusal to testify before an anti-corruption commission.

In March, South Africa’s election commission dismissed Zuma. Still, a month later, a court lifted the ban, saying that the part of the constitution that applied only to people who could review their punishments did not apply to Zuma in the present case. On Monday, the Constitutional Court overturned the decision following the electoral commission’s appeal to the highest court in the county. The court ruled that Zuma was prohibited from seeking a seat in Parliament for five years after the completion of his sentence.

The Constitution of South Africa prohibits individuals sentenced to 12 months in prison, without the possibility of a fine, from holding office in parliament. This measure aims to safeguard the integrity of the democratic system established after the abolition of apartheid in 1994.

The parliament elects the president in South Africa, while each legislature chooses a provincial premier. South Africans are set to cast their votes for the national parliament and nine provincial legislatures in the upcoming elections.