Jacob Zuma wins court bid, cleared to run in May general election

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A South African court on Tuesday allowed former president Jacob Zuma to run in May’s general elections, overturning an earlier decision by electoral authorities barring him over a previous conviction.

The electoral court ruled in favour of Zuma, 81, who is fronting the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, a new opposition party that has become a dark horse in the election race.

“The decision of the Electoral Commission… is set aside,” the electoral court wrote in its ruling seen by AFP.

It did not provide an explanation of how the verdict was reached.

South Africa is to hold general elections on Wednesday, 29 May in what is expected to be the most competitive vote since the advent of democracy in 1994.

The day has been declared a public holiday.

Zuma’s ability to run could be a key factor in the elections’ outcome.

Banking on Zuma’s popularity, the MK party is expected to cut well into the vote share of the already embattled ruling African National Congress (ANC) – the ex-president’s former political home.

This could precipitate the ANC towards its worst result in three decades, seeing it drop below 50 percent of the vote, short of a parliamentary majority.

The electoral commission had earlier excluded Zuma from the contest, arguing that the constitution bars anyone convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment from running from office.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to testify to a panel probing financial corruption and cronyism under his presidency.


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