Why former SA President Jacob Zuma has been barred from running in May election

By Wycliffe Nyamasege
On 29 March 2024 at 06:20

Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s attempt to make a comeback to government has been dealt a blow after the country’s electoral commission disqualified him from running in the General Election slated for May 29, 2024.

The 81-year-old had been nominated by the recently formed uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation) party in a bid to revive his political career, after he was previously jailed for contempt of court in 2021 and his fallout with the African National Congress (ANC) party.

But the electoral commission announced on Thursday that it had barred Zuma from contesting for a seat in parliament on grounds of an objection lodged against his candidacy.

“In the case of former President Zuma, yes, we did receive an objection, which has been upheld,” electoral commission President Mosotho Moepya told reporters ahead of what is touted as the most competitive vote since the end of apartheid in 1994.

“The party that has nominated him has been informed,” he added.

According to Section 47 of the South African constitution, any person sentenced to more than 12 months is prohibited from becoming an MP.

"The effect of the objections brought against the former president has been dealt with. What we have done is to exercise the provisions of the law without fear, favour and without prejudice. Anyone who has been removed from the list, we will have reasons why we have done so," Moepya declared.

"We would have relied on the provisions of the Act or the Constitution, and we accept that we have a fundamental responsibility in exercising that role very carefully,” he added.

The commission further clarified that the MK party will remain on the ballot and contest the elections even as the outfit vowed to challenge the decision.

"The party is not disqualified. It’s just a candidate in a particular party," he said.

"All parties and candidates that may be aggrieved about the decisions that the commission has taken today are required or have an opportunity to approach the Electoral Court. They have until 2 April - and, once the court has received those, it will consider the matters and make its decision known [by 9 April]."

Zuma incarcerated

Zuma was thrown into prison for refusing to testify before a judicial commission investigating corruption when he served as the fourth president of South Africa’s from 2009 t0 2018.
He was, however, freed from prison on medical parole after just two months into his term.

“Medical parole placement for Zuma means that he will complete the remainder of the sentence in the system of community corrections, whereby he must comply with a specific set of conditions and will be subjected to supervision until his sentence expires,” the Department of Correctional Services.

An appeal court later ordered him back to jail after finding that his release was illegal.
But on returning to jail, the former president immediately benefitted from a remission of non-violent offenders approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma's attempt to make a comeback to government has been dealt a blow.