South Africa: What strategy for Zuma after court win?

strategy for Zuma after court win
Reuters

strategy for Zuma after court win: On Tuesday, the South African Electoral Court reversed a prior decision that had barred former president Jacob Zuma from running for office in the next general election.

With this decision in hand, Zuma can now run for president as a member of the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK), the new political organization he formed after severing links with the ANC, the ruling party.

On May 29, South Africans will exercise their right to vote for four hundred representatives to the United Nations General Assembly. After that, the president of the country will be selected by the newly elected lawmakers.

After an objection was filed against Zuma’s candidacy, the Independent Electoral Commission initially prevented him from running for office because of his criminal record. It is against the law for a person to run for office in South Africa if they have a criminal record and a sentence of more than 12 months without the possibility of a fine.

In 2021, Zuma received a 15-month prison term for disobeying a court order to appear before a commission that was looking into claims of corruption that occurred during his administration from 2009 to 2018.

On Tuesday, though, the Electoral Court issued a brief order announcing that Zuma’s and his party’s appeals had been successful, leading to the rejection of the objection to his candidacy.

A party that has long held the view that the election commission’s decision to exclude Zuma was unfair, the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, expressed its delight at the court’s ruling.

Nhlamulo Ndhlela, a spokeswoman for the party, has stated that Zuma will be listed as their presidential candidate, suggesting that he is likely to be elected as a congressman. It is unclear whether the MK will be able to achieve the legislative majority needed to elect its candidate president, even though it may receive enough votes to obtain seats in parliament.

“We are ecstatic at the court verdict because we have always said that President Zuma and the MK Party’s rights have to be upheld,” said Ndhlela. “What this basically means is that he will be our presidential candidate, and he will be in Parliament after the elections.”

According to University of South Africa political scientist Dirk Kotze, Zuma may use his recent court victory to further his claim that the original decision to reject his candidacy was driven by political motives.

“I think he’s going to use that very much, and that he will say, well, this judgment by the Electoral Court ultimately vindicates what he was arguing all the time about his innocence, and the fact that it might be a political strategy against him,” said Kotze.

Since Zuma has already served two terms as president, according to the Constitution, Kotze made it clear that the court decision does not allow him to compete for president or be elected.

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