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8 May, 2024 09:27

Former South African president faces dissent from own party

The founder of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) wants Jacob Zuma off the ballot ahead of elections on May 29
Former South African president faces dissent from own party

The founder of South African opposition party uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) has demanded the removal of former President Jacob Zuma from the list of candidates ahead of a general election later this month.

Jabulani Khumalo, who was recently expelled from the party over “ill-discipline,” has accused Zuma of “fraudulently” occupying his position as MK leader, according to a letter addressed to the Electoral Commission (IEC), which local media said was circulated on Tuesday.

The IEC confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that it had received Khumalo’s request to remove the former president as the “face of MKP and as the president of the MKP.” 

“The Commission reiterates its stance that it does not involve itself in internal affairs of political parties. Additionally, the Commission only acts on instruction of the registered leader of the party. In the present case, Mr. Jacob Zuma is the registered leader of MK Party,” it declared.

On April 10, Zuma officially became leader of MK, a new opposition coalition he joined last year after defecting from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – the party that helped him win two presidential elections. This came after the South African Electoral Court overturned an earlier ruling that had barred the 82-year-old from running for a seat in the National Assembly in the May 29 elections. The IEC had upheld an objection against Zuma’s candidacy because of a previous conviction.

He was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 on charges of refusing to attend a court-ordered tribunal that investigated systematic corruption in state institutions during his presidency between 2009 and 2018. He only served two months and was released under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘special remission’ pardon scheme, which granted release to thousands of non-violent inmates and aimed to ease overcrowding in prisons.

In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, MK, which has repeatedly accused the government of attempting to “sabotage” the party, said it will not be intimidated by the ANC’s efforts to block Zuma’s candidacy.

The party accused President Ramaphosa of using Khumalo to “sow discord and confusion” among its leaders.

“It is disheartening yet expected that Mr. Khumalo and the ANC of Ramaphosa have allowed themselves to be swayed by money to destroy President Zuma and the MK party, which is the only hope and future for the poor, unemployed, and downtrodden people,” said the statement.