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Former South African President Jacob Zuma Forms New Party, Parts Ways with ANC



Former South African president Jacob Zuma has announced his disassociation from the African National Congress (ANC) and revealed plans to establish a new political entity named uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a nod to the former armed wing of the ANC.

Zuma, who served as the country’s president from 2009 to 2018, expressed his refusal to support the ANC under President Cyril Ramaphosa, deeming it a betrayal.

In a charged statement, Zuma declared the start of a “new people’s war” through the ballot, criticizing the current ANC’s deviation from its historical roots.

Highlighting dissatisfaction with the ANC’s leadership and a perceived shift away from its original values, Zuma asserted his intent to “rescue” the organization.

The announcement adds a complex layer to the political landscape as South Africa braces for the upcoming national elections, anticipating heightened competition among political factions.

Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, blasted his African National Congress (ANC) on Saturday, saying he would vote for another party in next year’s general election.

“I have decided that I cannot and will not campaign for the ANC of [current President Cyril] Ramaphosa in 2024. My conscience will not allow me to lie to the people of South Africa,” said Zuma.

The politician announced he would instead vote for the new Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party — named after the ANC’s former military wing — despite remaining a member of the ANC.

Zuma: ANC is a ‘proxy for white monopoly capital’

Zuma, who was president of the ANC between 2007 and 2017, has railed against Ramaphosa’s lack of leadership in the face of serious challenges. His most vociferous criticism has centered around Ramaphosa’s quest to clean up the party by stamping out corruption in its ranks.

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The 81-year-old Zuma said Ramaphosa should focus more on rolling power cuts across the country than on expelling corrupt party members.

In his Saturday remarks, Zuma accused Ramaphosa and the ANC of being, “a proxy for white monopoly capital,” telling South Africans it would be, “a betrayal to vote for the ANC.”

Zuma said an ANC victory in next year’s election would, “lead our people to more misery, poverty, racism, unemployment, deepening load-shedding [power cuts] and a government led by sellouts and apartheid collaborators.”

Perennial ruling party faces stiffest challenge yet

The ANC, which has governed South Africa since Nelson Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected leader in 1994, has held a parliamentary majority ever since.

Now it enters the upcoming election — scheduled between May and August 2024 — dogged by corruption scandals and overseeing economic decline. It is facing serious challenges to its dominance and the prospect of having to form a coalition government to remain in power.

Zuma refuses to answer corruption charges against him

Zuma himself faced wide-ranging allegations of corruption when he was ousted from the presidency by Ramaphosa in 2018, and has been embroiled in numerous legal battles since leaving office.

In 2021, the former leader was sentenced to 15 months in jail for refusing to testify before a panel investigating financial corruption and cronyism during his presidency. He was released two months later on medical grounds.

He also faces further corruption charges stemming from arms procurement scandals during his time as South Africa’s vice president in the 1990s.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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