South Africa’s ex-president Jacob Zuma joined forces with another graft-tainted former top ruling party official on Friday, announcing a political alliance ahead of elections in a blow to the embattled African National Congress.Zuma, 81, and Ace Magashule, a close ally and former ANC secretary-general, said they would soon unveil plans for a joint political future. The pair, who both lost their jobs over corruption allegations, have recently formed separate parties in the run-up to general elections due to take place between May and August this year. The “Magashule Zuma United Front” will mark a “departure from traditional politics towards a more inclusive, people-centric approach”, Magashule’s party, the African Congress for Transformation (ACT), said in a statement. The move could further dilute support for the ANC, which is struggling in the polls and could see its share of the vote drop below 50 percent for the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994.”Based on the current political climate, the announcement could be detrimental for the ANC because they don’t have much time left until elections,” Hlengiwe Ndlovu, a lecturer at the Wits School of Governance in Johannesburg told AFP.”Despite the two leaders being scandal-tainted we know that the voters in poor communities don’t really care.”Last month, Zuma drove a new split in the ANC, vowing to campaign and vote for the radical new Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party, or Spear of the Nation, named after the ANC’s old military wing.The former head of state, who has never hidden his bitterness at the way he was pushed out of office, pointedly told a press conference “it would be a betrayal” to campaign for the ANC under his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa.Magashule, 64, was kicked out of the ANC last year over graft accusations but remains popular with parts of the left-leaning electorate. He formed the ACT in August.Author and political analyst Leslie Dikeni said the new alliance was further evidence of deep rifts within the ruling party.But doubts remain over whether it would pose “any serious threat to the ANC”, Dikeni added.In power for three decades, the ANC has had its once-stellar standing mauled by allegations of corruption and mismanagement, amid a weak economy hampered by power cuts, high unemployment and rampant crime. “This event promises to be a crucial moment in shaping the political landscape, heralding a new era of collaboration and change,” the ACT said of its new alliance.