Ex-President Jacob Zuma Launches New Party Manifesto Ahead Of Elections

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma on Saturday lamented the high levels of poverty amongst Black South Africans and promised to create jobs and tackle the scourge of crime as he launched his new political party’s manifesto ahead of the country’s much-anticipated elections.

He told thousands of supporters who gathered at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg that his party would build factories where many South Africans would be employed and provide free education for the country’s youth.

He has also pledged to change the country’s Constitution to restore more powers to traditional leaders, saying their role in society has been reduced by giving more powers to magistrates and judges.

Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party, known as the MK Party, has emerged as a significant player in South Africa’s upcoming elections after it was launched in December last year.

He is currently involved in a legal battle with the country’s electoral authority, the Independent Electoral Commission.

He has appealed against a court judgment which barred him from standing in the election because of his criminal record.

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying a court order to appear before a judicial commission of inquiry probing corruption allegations in government and state-owned companies during his presidential term from 2009 to 2018.

In 2018, he was forced to resign as the country’s president following wide-ranging corruption allegations, but he has made a political return seeking to become the country’s president again.

“My biggest problem is that we (South Africa) have too many political parties. Too much. They are the cause of our people suffering even more,” Zuma told his supporters, many of whom had travelled from other provinces like Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, where he still enjoys significant support.

Poverty among black people is the reason behind South Africa’s high levels of crime, according to the former president.

“Victims of crime are often Black people. The reason for this is because of poverty. People are hungry. They have nothing to eat. So if you see it (food) next door, what else are you supposed to do,” he said.

Zuma said his party was aiming to get more than 65% of the national vote in the upcoming elections as it would allow them to change many laws in the country’s constitution.

Recent polls and analysts have suggested that the ruling African National Congress might get less than 50% of the national vote in the upcoming elections, which would need it to form a coalition with smaller parties to remain in power.

South Africans will go to the polls on May 29.