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Former South African leader Zuma barred from running as MP

FORMER South African president Jacob Zuma was barred today from running for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming national elections due to a previous criminal conviction.

The Constitutional Court ruled that a section of the constitution disqualifying people from standing for parliament if they have been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison without the option of a fine does apply to the 82-year-old.

Mr Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 by the same court for contempt after refusing to testify at a judicial inquiry into government corruption.

He cannot serve as a lawmaker until five years after that criminal sentence was completed, the court said.

The ruling came nine days ahead of the May 29 election.

Mr Zuma once led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and was a senior leader during the country’s liberation struggle, but resigned as president in 2018 following corruption allegations.

His jailing triggered riots in KwaZulu-Natal in which more than 300 people died.

There was no immediate reaction from Mr Zuma to the court’s decision, which can be appealed.

The ANC is struggling to hold onto the parliamentary majority it has enjoyed since the end of apartheid in 1994, with analysts saying it might receive less than 50 per cent of votes, and the party forced into a national coalition government.

That would be its biggest political shift since the system of white minority rule was dismantled 30 years ago.

Mr Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK), named after the ANC’s former armed wing, will still be able to take part in the elections.

MK secretary-general Sihle Ngubane said the party was disappointed with the ruling, but added: “He is still the leader of the party.

“[The judgement] doesn’t affect our campaign at all.”

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