South African ex-President Jacob Zuma Shocks Nation by Backing New Political Party Ahead of 2024 Election

December 16, 2023
South African ex President Jacob Zuma | Report Focus News
South African ex President Jacob Zuma

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Former President Jacob Zuma on Saturday denounced the governing African National Congress party and announced that he would vote for a newly-formed political formation in South Africa’s general election next year.

Zuma, who was president of the ANC from 2007 to 2017, said that he’s backing the newly-formed Umkhonto we Sizwe party that is named after the ANC’s now-defunct military wing, which was disbanded after the liberation struggle.

Zuma called on other South Africans to vote for the new formation, saying it would be “a betrayal to vote for the ANC” of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The country’s general election scheduled for 2024 is expected to be highly contested, because the ruling ANC, which has governed the country since Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically-elected leader in 1994, faces a myriad of challenges.

Recent polls have suggested that the ANC could for the first time garner less than 50% of the national vote in next year’s election and may need to form a coalition government to remain in power.

Briefing journalists in Johannesburg’s Soweto township on Saturday, Zuma described the ANC and Ramaphosa as a “proxy for white monopoly capital,” and he described his decision as part of rescuing the ANC.

“I have decided that I cannot and will not campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa in 2024. My conscience will not allow me to lie to the people of South Africa and to pretend that the ANC of Ramaphosa is the ANC of Luthuli, Tambo and Mandela,” said Zuma, referring to previous leaders of the ANC.

Zuma was ousted as the country’s president by Ramaphosa in 2018 amid wide-ranging allegations of corruption in government and state-owned companies during his presidential tenure from 2009 to 2018.

Since his departure from the country’s highest office, Zuma has been facing legal battles.

He was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying a court order to appear before a judicial commission of inquiry, which was investigating corruption allegations against him and other high-profile politicians and businesspeople during his time in office.

He has also pleaded not guilty to corruption charges related to South Africa’s 1999 arms procurement deal in a trial that has faced major delays.

The ANC is expected to face fierce competition from the opposition parties Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, but smaller parties and independent candidates could be crucial in case of coalition negotiations.

The ANC indicated this week that they will legally challenge the use of the name Umkhonto we Sizwe by the new political formation because the name belonged to the party.