South Africa: Zuma Ineligible to Run

Elections will be held on May 29, the decision to remove the former president was made by the Constitutional Court

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president from 2009 to 2018, will not be able to run in the next parliamentary elections scheduled for May 29, 2024.

The decision was handed down by South Africa’s Constitutional Court and prompted by Zuma’s 2021 sentence to 15 years in prison for the 82-year-old former president’s refusal to testify in an investigation into corruption offenses involving the government. The sentence is dated May 20, 2024 and carries a 5-year disqualification.

Zuma was at the helm of the African National Congress party in South Africa, a party that had been in power since 1994, the date the apartheid ended, but was forced to step down from the party leadership in 2017 over corruption allegations and then founded the MK party (uMkhonto we Sizwe, Spear of the Nation). Zuma’s name will remain on the ballots, but if elected, he will not be able to enter parliament. The May 29 election appears to be the most competitive in 30 years due to the loss of consensus in South Africa’s National Congress, now led by current South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The MK had originally said they would provoke riots if Zuma was declared ineligible, but that hypothesis now seems to have been dismissed and the party has said it is seeking a two-thirds preference so it can then influence the Constitution to make Zuma the next president.