ANC granted leave to appeal in SMS case

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The ANC has developed a manifesto which contains coherent, realistic and achievable proposals to move South Africa forward, says the writer. File picture: Phil Magakoe

Johannesburg - The High Court in Johannesburg on Saturday granted the ANC leave to appeal a decision that a DA SMS about President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead was fair comment.

“We believe that this decision is in the interest of upholding the integrity of the electoral process and in the interest of the country as a whole,” African National Congress spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

“The decision further confirms the view of the ANC that another court will reach a different conclusion on this matter.”

Last week, acting Judge Mike Hellens dismissed the ANC's application to stop the distribution of the SMS, saying it was fair comment.

In the SMS, sent to over 1.5 million voters in Gauteng, the DA said: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.”

On Saturday, Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane also welcomed the decision granting the ANC leave to appeal.

“We are looking forward to telling another court and the South African public why we were justified in saying that Zuma stole people's money...”

Last month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report which found that Zuma and his family improperly benefited from R246 million security upgrades to his KwaZulu-Natal residence.

Mthembu previously said the court seemed to have erred in its ruling by not accepting that the right to freedom of expression was correctly limited by the Electoral Act.

On Saturday he said: “The effect of the leave to appeal is that the earlier judgment..., which favoured the DA, is suspended pending the final determination by the Electoral Court.”

Mthembu urged political parties to stop spreading falsehoods with the aim of influencing the outcome of the general elections in contravention of the Electoral Code and Electoral Act.

“We implore all political parties to respect the law and campaign on the basis of truth and substance of their policies, if any.”

Maimane said: “The ANC continues to fight against freedom of speech in this election, not just with this SMS case, but through censorship of DA commercials by the SABC.”

This was a reference to the public broadcaster this week demanding that the DA amend its “Ayisafani” election advertisement on the basis that it incited violence.

In the advert, Maimane speaks about news events such as police brutality and the upgrades to Zuma's Nkandla home.

SABC acting group CEO Tian Olivier wrote to the DA, informing it that the advert would not be broadcast as it incited violence. - Sapa


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