Jacob Zuma vows to fight on after being locked out of South Africa elections

Jacob Zuma

Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks to his supporters during the launch of the election manifesto of his new political party, uMkhonto we Sizwe, ahead of a general election on May 29, at a rally in Soweto, South Africa, May 18, 2024.

Photo credit: Reuters

What you need to know:

  • Decisions of the constitutional court cannot be overruled.
  • Zuma's name will be removed from MK's list of parliamentary candidates.

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that he will fight for his rights, after the country's top court ruled that he was not eligible to run for parliament in next week's election.

The constitutional court ruled on Monday that Zuma's 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court in 2021 disqualified him from standing in the May 29 vote, as the constitution prohibits anyone given a prison sentence of 12 months or longer from holding a parliamentary seat.

Decisions of the constitutional court cannot be overruled.

"Judges of the constitutional court have taken a decision that I can't exercise my freedom, my democracy," Zuma said in a YouTube video shared by his uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party.

List of parliamentary candidates

"I am going to fight for my rights until this country agrees that freedom must be a complete freedom, not for some and oppression for others."

While Zuma's name will be removed from MK's list of parliamentary candidates, his face will remain on the election's ballot papers as he is the registered leader of the party.

Zuma endorsed MK in December, when he announced he would not campaign for the governing African National Congress (ANC), which he led from 2007 until 2017.

Resigned under pressure

He resigned as South Africa's president in 2018, under pressure from current ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa's allies in the party, after nine years as head of state marred by corruption scandals and slowing economic growth.

Zuma's jailing in 2021 triggered riots in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal in which more than 300 people died. The riots morphed into a wider spate of looting.

There had been fears that this week's court ruling could prompt a violent reaction from Zuma's supporters, but that has not materialised.