King takes Zuma to court

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo's laywer is taking President Jacob Zuma to court. Photo: Independent Newspapers

AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo's laywer is taking President Jacob Zuma to court. Photo: Independent Newspapers

Published May 4, 2011


First, it was a fight to stop the ruling party from “completely extinguishing the AbaThembu from the surface of this earth like dinosaurs” in a bid to declare independence for the AbaThembu.

Now Votani Majola, lawyer for AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo has taken president Jacob Zuma to court, challenging a law that prohibits independent candidates from contesting provincial and national offices.

Arguing in the Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday, Majola saidthe Electoral Act (73 of 1998) should be “declared unconstitutional and invalid” as it was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

Quoting “Constitutional principles”, Majola said the Electoral Act failed to embrace provisions of the Constitution which stipulated that “there shall be proportional representation”.

“This honourable court has a constitutional imperative to advance human rights. This advancement occupies a higher status of preference when compared with proportional representation principle set out in section 46 and section 105 in the Constitution. I therefore submit with respect that when the legislature drafted the electoral system at issue herein, they had a constitutional obligation to honour the aforesaid provisions by allowing independent candidates to contest elections in exercise of the political rights,” he said.

Of all the exceptions listed regarding people eligible to be members of the national assembly, there was none stating that non-political party members were not eligible, he said.

“The electoral system at issue violates the substantive rights of an adult citizen to stand for public office and if elected to hold office. The current system is unfair, unjust and inequitable,” Majola said.

But Advocate Ishmael Semenya SC, council for Zuma argued that Majola’s case should be dismissed as there were provisions in the electoral system allowing for independent candidates to stand for office.

“The applicant’s case is that he would have preferred an electoral system which also made place for individuals to participate and to hold office through a different electoral system. Unfortunately the constitution has placed the power to determine an electoral system on the national assembly.”

“We submit that the applicant does not suffer any impediment to his section 19 rights (of the constitution). He can as a member of a political party, stand for elections and if elected to hold office. What the applicant cannot do is to dictate to parliament which electoral system is best able to serve the interest of the people of South Africa,” said Semenya.

Arguments were set to continue on Thursday , with lawyers of the Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Brigalia Bam stating their case as second respondents to the matter.

Majola stirred controversy when – as a leader of the King Dalindyebo campaign – he announced the king’s plans to withdraw from the South African Republic and set up a state of the Thembuland.

In court papers, Majola refers to himself as Emperor Thembu 2nd Votani Majola. - The Star

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