Canceling the election of Jacob Zuma: How does it affect the South African elections? | | Story


Electoral officials in South Africa have banned the former leader of the country Jacob Zuma since he stood in May’s election, fueling political tensions as polls approach in a country that many experts believe could see the biggest electoral contests since the end of apartheid and the establishment of democracy in 1994.

Here’s what we know about the case and Zuma’s political future:

Who is Jacob Zuma?

Zuma, 81 years old, became the fourth president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018. In his youth, Zuma fought against the apartheid government and was arrested with Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) on Robben Island.

In 1997, he was appointed vice-president of the ANC, and two years later, of South Africa – a position he held under President Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela as president.

Zuma later became the leader of the ANC and the country as a whole. His message and campaign inspired millions of people, especially the poorest. He took power promising to be cleansed, but after his tenure his position was marred by many scandals and corruption.

In April 2018, he was forced by the ANC to resign, after facing no-confidence votes in parliament and being abandoned by many of his supporters. Zuma, known for his outspokenness, tried to twist the story in his favour. “I never thought that one day I would be here in parliament fighting against new oppression,” Zuma said at the time. “The system of corruption that keeps our people imprisoned in poverty. If you had told me that one day our democratically elected president would be corrupted and captured by a gang, I would not have believed you. But we are here.”

But under the leadership of current President Cyril Ramaphosa, they became increasingly estranged from the ANC.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has arrived at a court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to face corruption charges. [File: Phill Magakoe/Reuters]

In 2021, Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison after refusing to appear in court during a corruption investigation. Riots broke out as his supporters clashed with security forces. More than 300 people died in the riots that led to Zuma’s release in September on medical grounds.

Last year in December, the leader supported the new party Mkhonto weSizwe (MK) or Spear of the Nation, leading to speculation that he helped launch the party.

“I cannot, and will not, campaign for Ramaphosa’s ANC,” Zuma said.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY Jacob Zumas-1706684856

How will this idea affect the upcoming elections in South Africa?

Zuma’s decision to oppose the ANC threatens that his old party will come to power in South Africa. Earlier, polls were predicting that the ANC could see its share of the vote fall below 50 percent for the first time. When the MK party was launched last December, Mr Zuma said that his aim was to give the ANC party in the region.

The name of the party is important: MK was also called the military wing of the ANC during apartheid. It was founded by Mandela.

“The battle for new people starts from today,” Zuma said in establishing the new party. “The big difference is that instead of a bullet, this time we’re going to use a vote.”

Since the establishment of the MK, the ANC’s share of the vote in the elections has dropped significantly: The latest, by the polling company Markdata in March, shows that the ANC has 41 percent of the national vote, and the MK, 11 percent.

Zuma’s ability to harm the ANC is particularly evident in KwaZulu-Natal, his home province which is also South Africa’s second most populous province. He also has a lot of support in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province. These are the two districts that were most affected by the 2021 riots over Zuma’s arrest.

Rating of the Social Research Foundation (SRF) was released in February, shows that when voters in KwaZulu-Natal were asked to choose between the ANC and MK, more than 60 percent of voters – and at least 70 percent of Black voters – said they would vote for MK. Less than 20 percent of voters said they would choose the ANC over MK.

Even with a multi-party race, MK can get more than 20 percent of the votes in KwaZulu-Natal, the SRF poll concluded. This would reduce the ANC’s vote share by 5 percentage points.

“These figures are probably game-changers,” said Frans Cronje, chairman of the SRF told Bloomberg in February.

“The house of the ANC is now on fire and a few weeks ago the political scene in South Africa was slowly going downhill for the party… expectations are rising that the roof will fall very quickly,” he added.

If Zuma is unable to compete, it could reduce MK’s power. But the 2021 protests show that his move to stay out of the polls could, especially if he is seen as a victim, galvanize his loyal support.

What is next for Zuma and MK?

When the announcement was made, MK said he would appeal the decision.

“In the case of former President Zuma, yes, we received an objectionwhich has been confirmed,” the head of the Electoral Commission in South Africa Mosotho Moepya said.

“The party that nominated him has been informed” as well as those who oppose the move, he added.

The decision can be appealed before April 2. MK spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela, told AFP that the party “considers the merits of the protest but we will appeal”.

Meanwhile, Zuma is expected to continue campaigning against the ANC. If the courts overturn the Electoral Commission’s decision and Zuma can run, it could revive his political career – and pose a major threat to the ANC at a time when its voter turnout is at its lowest since it came to power in 1994.

The ANC asked the Electoral Commission to bar MK from contesting the election. But the Electoral Commission rejected the request. The ANC then appealed to the court in South Africa. Earlier this week, the court rejected the request, allowing MK to contest the May election.

South Africa is expected to hold elections on May 29.



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