Presidential Candidate Disqualified From National Election

( – South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, has been disqualified from the country’s upcoming national election by a Constitutional court due to a previous criminal conviction.

Zuma’s contempt of court conviction, which resulted in a 15-month jail sentence, was the reason for the former president’s disqualification. The verdict of the nation’s highest court is likely to increase political tensions approaching the election. The Constitutional Court stated that, according to a section of the Constitution, people were disqualified from standing for office if they had been sentenced to over 12 months in prison. The court found that this rule did apply to the 82-year-old former president. Zuma’s 2021 contempt conviction related to his refusing to testify at a judicial inquiry into alleged government corruption.

Zuma was infamously accused of rape in 2005 and prosecuted in a 2006 trial, which ultimately cleared him of the charges. Zuma was accused of assaulting an HIV-positive woman. The then-former deputy president and presidential hopeful bizarrely claimed that he had taken a shower after what he argued was consensual sex with the woman to reduce the risk of contracting HIV. Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, who had used the pseudonym “Khwezi” to keep her identity a secret, died in 2016 at the age of 41.

The country’s current President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said in 2017, when competing with Zuma for the presidency, that he agreed with the accuser. Since falling out with the governing African National Congress party, Zuma has been campaigning with the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party. The electoral commission ruled that the former president’s name would be removed from the list of MK’s parliamentary candidates despite his image and the party’s logo being allowed to remain on the ballot papers.

Zuma’s lawyers claimed in court that because Ramaphosa released him after he served only three months in jail, the rest of the sentence was null and void. The court concluded, however, that the length of time served was irrelevant compared to the length of the sentence according to the country’s constitution. Justice Leona Theron clarified that the ban had been put in place in 1994 to protect the democratic government’s integrity following the end of Apartheid.

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