Jacob Zuma lashes out at South African judges after election ban

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has said the country’s constitution must be changed after he was barred from running for parliament on Monday.

In his first interview since the ban, Mr Zuma told the BBC the Constitutional Court was wrong to decide he was unfit to run, based on his 2021 conviction for contempt of court.

“I expected that from our judges, but they are definitely wrong. Not correct,” the 82-year-old said.

Ahead of next week’s general election, Mr Zuma had been campaigning under the banner of the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

He joined the party after falling out with the governing African National Congress (ANC), which he used to lead.

The electoral commission argued that the constitution bars anyone who was sentenced to more than 12 months in prison from serving as a lawmaker.

Mr Zuma was convicted in 2021 for refusing to testify at an inquiry investigating corruption during his presidency.

Mr Zuma’s lawyers have insisted he is entitled to become an MP as his sentence was reduced to three months after current President Cyril Ramaphosa released him from prison in what widely seen as an attempt to placate the former president’s angry supporters.

“The judges of the Constitutional Court have acted very funny to me – towards me in particular,” Mr Zuma said.

“They are not taking into account the will of the people of this country, they use their own will.”

He was president from 2009 to 2018 before being forced out as leader of the ANC amid allegations of widespread corruption in his government.

The corruption, widely known as “state capture”, saw hundreds of millions of dollars of public assets taken into private hands. Mr Zuma has always denied any direct role in corruption, but is due to face trial next year on allegations of bribery.

He told the BBC he had been wrongly stripped of his role as leader of the ANC.

“I don’t know what ‘state capture’ means. If people say I am corrupt, what did I do? Do you have any facts about it? Am I guilty?

“I was removed before the end of my term, and nothing was produced as evidence that this was an issue.”

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