Zuma can contest elections, court rules

Former president Jacob Zuma was at the Electoral Court this week where his uMkhonto weSizwe Party has successfully challenged the decision to bar him from contesting the May 29 elections.

Former president Jacob Zuma was at the Electoral Court this week where his uMkhonto weSizwe Party has successfully challenged the decision to bar him from contesting the May 29 elections.

Published Apr 10, 2024


Former president Jacob Zuma has been cleared to appear on the list of candidates for the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party), the Electoral Court has ruled.

In its order handed down on Tuesday, the court upheld an appeal lodged by the MK Party against the decision of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to remove Zuma from its list of candidates due to him being convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to a 15-month jail term by the Constitutional Court.

The court on Tuesday said the decision of the IEC in terms of which it upheld an objection to Zuma appearing on MK Party’s list “is set aside and substituted with the following: ‘The objection is hereby dismissed’.”

The court made no order as to costs. Its full reasons for the order were not immediately available on Tuesday.

Speaking after the ruling, the MK Party said it felt vindicated by the court’s decision.

“We are extremely happy and vindicated. This is a historic and landmark ruling which asserts the rule of law.

The time has come that the country returns to its rightful hands. We have seen what the IEC has done and this judgment confirms what we have been saying and we feel vindicated by the judgment,” MK Party spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela said.

Last week, the commission had said sections 47 and 106 of the Constitution set out the eligibility criteria and qualifications for the National Assembly and provincial legislatures respectively and thus Zuma was ineligible to contest the elections because of the 15-month sentence imposed on him for contempt of court.

On Monday, advocate Dali Mpofu SC argued that Zuma was being disadvantaged by the IEC and that the former president was given a lesser sentence as his sentence was remitted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We all know there was no trial, no plea. Zuma was the only person who sat in court without pleading guilty or not. He is the only person in a country of 62 million who has been charged without pleading guilty,” he said.

Mpofu also argued that the IEC had no authority to remove Zuma from the list, adding that the decision lay with the National Assembly.

But advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, for the IEC, argued that the commission was applying Section 47 of the Constitution which was clear on the selection of candidates to Parliament, and that the remission did not change the Constitutional Court’s original sentence.

Last week, ahead of the appeal, Ndhlela indicated that the party was confident of a favourable outcome.

“We challenge the legality and validity of the IEC’s decision, asserting that it was made without proper jurisdiction, influenced by bias, and based on flawed interpretations of the law.

“We remain steadfast in our pursuit of justice and will spare no effort in defending president Zuma’s rights as the only South African post 1994 to be jailed without a trial,” he said at the time.

Approached for comment, deputy CEO of the IEC, Mawethu Mosery, said the organisation could not comment yet as it needed to meet first to discuss the outcome of the matter.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said the decision by the court cleared the way for the MK Party to “disrupt” the political landscape in the country.

“It is now up to the people to decide whether they want Zuma back or not, the people will talk and ultimately decide. I felt that the decision by the IEC had many concerning issues that I feared could cause political instability, so it is good that the court has taken this decision,” said the analyst.

Khumalo said the decision provided the party the opportunity to prove its worth at the ballot.

“These guys have just been winning and winning. I have said they are political disruptors and everyone is quaking at their sight. Everyone is concerned about the MK Party. The court decision clears the way for them to perform.

“They will not get the two thirds majority or the 50 plus 1 they are aiming for, but they are likely to get a percentage that will shake the political landscape.”

The Mercury