Ahead of the 2024 presidential election in South Africa, the country’s former President, Jacob Zuma on Saturday threatened to vote against the ruling African National Congress (ANC) which has the President, Cyril Ramaphosa as its candidate but instead, said he would cast his ballot for the newly formed party.
Elected on the platform of ANC as President from 2007 to 2017, Zuma 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 political party, saying it would be “a betrayal to vote for the ANC” of Ramaphosa.
The country’s general election scheduled for 2024 is expected to be keenly contested as a result of the crisis rocking the ANC.
The party has been in power since Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically-elected leader in 1994.
Opinion 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 party.
Zuma was ousted as the country’s leader 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 exit from the country’s highest office, Zuma has been facing legal battles bordering graft.
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.