Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s Scandal-Ridden Ex-President, Is Running Again

Jacob Zuma, who resigned as South Africa’s president in shame in 2018, is now staging his biggest comeback act yet by running in next month’s parliamentary elections with an upstart opposition party at the top of its ticket — the slot designated for a party’s presidential contender.

Mr. Zuma’s participation in the race is a blow to a faltering African National Congress — the party he once led — which has governed the country since the end of apartheid three decades ago. The A.N.C. and its leader, the country’s current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, are now struggling to win back the trust of voters disillusioned by a stagnant economy and years of corruption.

Mr. Zuma, who is 81, won a big victory on Tuesday when he was cleared by a court to be on the ballot, despite having served time in prison for refusing to testify in a corruption inquiry. On Wednesday, his party — uMkhonto weSizwe — released its list of national candidates with his name at the top.

His party, known as MK, was formed only last December, but has already climbed in the polls, gained ground in local elections and won several legal battles for the right to contest the May 29 election.

If MK does well enough in the parliamentary elections, Mr. Zuma will secure a seat in Parliament. The new lawmakers will then elect the country’s next president. As a member of Parliament, Mr. Zuma would be eligible to be president, or could play kingmaker if the A.N.C. does not win enough seats to form a government — as many political analysts anticipate.

“The victory of the MK marks disaster for the A.N.C.,” said Bheki Mngomezulu, the director for the Center for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy at Nelson Mandela University.

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