S. Africa’s electoral body takes Zuma case to constitutional court

Johannesburg   -  South Africa’s electoral commission said Friday that it had appealed to the country’s highest court to rule on whether ex-presi­dent Jacob Zuma can stand in a general election in May. The commission said in a statement that it had lodged an “urgent and di­rect” appeal to the Consti­tutional Court to provide “certainty”. It is the latest twist in legal wrangling over the eligibility of the 81-year-old who is front­ing uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new opposition party that has become a potential upsetter in the May 29 election. In a sur­prise verdict on Tuesday, the electoral court ruled that Zuma could stand, overturning a decision by the electoral commission to bar him over a contempt of court conviction. The commission had excluded Zuma from the race at the end of last month, saying the constitution barred anyone sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprison­ment. Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to tes­tify to a panel investigating financial corruption and cronyism during his presi­dency. His lawyers argued the sentence did not dis­qualify him as it followed civil rather than criminal proceedings, and had been shortened by a remission. Zuma was freed on medi­cal parole just two months into his jail term. 

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