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South Africa’s ex-President Jacob Zuma barred from May elections

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Al Jazeera

South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been barred from standing in elections in May, the electoral commission has said.

South Africa is set to hold general elections on May 29 in what is expected to be the most competitive vote since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Zuma has been campaigning for the recently formed uMkhonto WeSizwe (MK) (Spear of the Nation) party in an attempt to relaunch his career, after he was previously jailed for contempt of court in 2021.

“In the case of former President Zuma, yes, we did receive an objection, which has been upheld,” electoral commission President Mosotho Moepya told reporters on Thursday, without giving details.

“The party that has nominated him has been informed” as have those objecting to the move, he said.

Jacob Zuma in Durban, South Africa, March 27, 2024 [Rogan Ward/Reuters]

Close race

The governing African National Congress (ANC) is on the brink of dropping below 50 percent of the vote for the first time since it came to power in 1994.

The party is bleeding support amid a weak economy and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

If the ANC falls below the 50 percent threshold, it will force the party, once led by Nelson Mandela, to form a coalition to stay in office.

Recent polls put the ANC on just more than 40 percent of the vote with the main opposition Democratic Alliance on about 27 percent and the MK party on 13 percent.

Zuma’s tenure ended in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations when incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him.

He was later sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to testify to a panel probing financial corruption and cronyism under his presidency. His jailing prompted protests, riots and looting that left more than 350 dead.

He was freed on medical parole just two months into his term.

An appeals court later ruled Zuma’s release was illegally granted and ordered him back to jail.

But on returning to a correctional centre, he immediately benefitted from a remission of non-violent offenders approved by Ramaphosa.

The electoral commission said in a statement that under the constitution “any person who was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine” cannot stand in an election.

Zuma is also facing separate charges of corruption in an arms procurement scandal in the 1990s when he was vice president.

Despite his legal troubles, Zuma still wields political clout and has been campaigning for the MK party in an attempt to revive his career and weaken his former party, the ANC, which suspended him in January.

The decision to bar Zuma can be appealed before April 2.

MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlhela told the AFP news agency the party was “looking at the merit of that objection but we will, of course, will appeal it”.

INTERACTIVE Jacob Zumas scandals-1706684856
[Al Jazeera]

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Mnangagwa commissions Kamativi Spodumene Mine

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Below are some images from Hwange, Kamativi Spodumene mine where President Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday commissioned the company’s 2.3 MT spodumene mining and processing project phase one.

Pictures by the Presidential Communications

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Mozambican national jailed 16 years for rape

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By Tinei Tuhwe

A 23-year old Mozambican will spend the next 16 years in a Zimbabwean prison following his conviction and sentencing for raping a minor.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the convict, whose name was not given, was convicted by a Chipinge magistrate after a full trial.

Prosecutors proved that the rape took place on March 12 this year.

The complainant, aged 13, was on her way from their homestead to a nearby business center in Chipinge.

“He grabbed her by the shoulders and dragged her to a nearby bush where he threatened her with a knife before raping her,” said the NPA in a statement.

The court heard the victim screamed for help and was heard by a passerby who rushed to the scene and rescued her while the suspect grabbed his clothes and took to his heels.

The matter was reported to the police leading to the arrest of the perpetrator.

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Nigeria recalls ‘toxic’ children’s cough syrup

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NIGERIA’S drug regulator has recalled a batch of Johnson & Johnson children’s cough syrup after tests showed it contained “an unacceptable high level” of a toxic and potentially fatal substance.

The substance, Diethylene glycol, “was found to cause acute oral toxicity in laboratory animals”, Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said on Wednesday

It added that human consumption of the Diethylene glycol results in toxic effects, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury which may lead to death.

The substance has been linked to the recent deaths of dozens of children in Cameroon and The Gambia.

Laboratory tests on the recalled Benylin Paediatric syrup also showed that it caused “acute oral toxicity in laboratory animals”, the regulator added.

Neither Johnson & Johnson nor Kenvue – which owns the Benylin brand after becoming independent from Johnson & Johnson last year- have commented on the NAFDAC’s statement.

The syrup was manufactured in South Africa in May 2021 and had an expiry date of April 2024.

The syrup’s packaging says it can be used for relieving cough and congestive symptoms and for treating fever and other allergic conditions among children aged between two and 12 years.

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