South Asia and Beyond

South African Strongman Jacob Zuma Banned From Contesting May Elections

 South African Strongman Jacob Zuma Banned From Contesting May Elections

Former South African president Jacob Zuma: Source: Government of Zambia (file)

South Africa’s electoral commission has banned former president Jacob Zuma from contesting in the upcoming elections in the country on May 29. Zuma, who was once known as the “strongman of South Africa,” was president of the country from 2009-18 when he resigned after facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

Once a member of the African National Congress (ANC) Zuma denounced the party in 2023. He has been campaigning for the recently formed uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation) party where he is a candidate. In what is likely to be the most competitive elections since 1994, the ruling ANC government has spared no effort to get him and his new party de-registered. South Africa’s electoral commission has quashed bids to deregister the party.

Despite a string of corruption charges against him, Zuma still holds high popularity amongst a section of South Africans. A freedom fighter, he was imprisoned for 10 years in the battle against apartheid from 1963-73. Local reports say he holds special sway in the KwaZulu-Natal region which is expected to be a key battleground in the election.

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From the ANC, president Cyril Ramaphosa is the most likely to be the party’s candidate as he seeks another term. Ramaphosa faces an uphill task as power blackouts, troubled economy, and graft allegations have hurt the party’s image. According to AP if the ANC gets below 50% of the vote and gets 40% as is currently being predicted it will have to form a coalition government for the first time in its history.

In South Africa’s electoral system, voters vote for a party, not the president, and follows the model of proportional representation. Having secured the votes, the winning party then decides which candidates it wants to send to the legislature. Once this is done, all the lawmakers of the Lower House must then decide who will be the next president. The president can only serve two five-year terms.


Ashwin Ahmad

Traveller, bibliophile and wordsmith with a yen for international relations. A journalist and budding author of short fiction, life is a daily struggle to uncover the latest breaking story while attempting to be Hemingway in the self-same time. Focussed especially on Europe and West Asia, discussing Brexit, the Iran crisis and all matters related is a passion that endures to this day. Believes firmly that life without the written word is a life best not lived. That’s me, Ashwin Ahmad.