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South Africa’s top court bars Zuma from being lawmaker

South Africa’s highest court has barred former President Jacob Zuma from running for parliament in next week’s general election.

The Constitutional Court ruled that his 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court disqualified him.

Mr Zuma was convicted in 2021 for refusing to testify at an inquiry investigating corruption during his presidency which ended in 2018.

He has been campaigning under the banner of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party after falling out with the governing African National Congress (ANC).

MK secretery general Sihle Ngubane said the party was disappointed with the ruling, but it would not affect its campaign.

“He is still the leader of the party. It [the judgment] doesn’t affect our campaign at all,” he said.

Mr Zuma’s face would remain on the ballot paper for the 29 May election, Mr Ngubane added.

South Africans vote for political parties, with the candidates at the top of their lists getting parliamentary seats depending on the number of votes the party gets.

Some MK members sang and danced outside the court, while those inside the court – some dressed in traditional Zulu regalia – sat silently as the judgement was handed down.

Mr Zuma has not yet commented on the ruling.

ANC leader and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa told a local radio station that he “noted” the ruling.

“The court has ruled, and as I have often said, that is the highest court in the land and we have given the judiciary the right to arbitrate disputes amongst us in terms of our constitution,” he said in an interview with 702.

MK’s emergence has raised the prospect that the ANC could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid 30 years ago.

uMkhonto we Sizwe is the original name of the ANC’s armed wing, which fought apartheid.


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