Election gloves off as IEC takes MK Party matter to Apex Court

MK Party’s Jacob Zuma addresses his party followers outside the Johannesburg High Court on Monday. Zuma was in court to challenge the IEC's decision to bar him from contesting elections. Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspaper

MK Party’s Jacob Zuma addresses his party followers outside the Johannesburg High Court on Monday. Zuma was in court to challenge the IEC's decision to bar him from contesting elections. Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspaper

Published Apr 13, 2024


The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) has called for Electoral Commissioner Janet Love’s head.

This comes just as the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) confirmed its intention to challenge Tuesday’s Electoral Court decision, which ruled in favour of MK Party leader Jacob Zuma as the MKP’s candidate in the upcoming elections.

On Tuesday, the Electoral Court upheld former president Jacob Zuma’s appeal against the IEC after it had struck Zuma off the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party’s candidates list.

This put Zuma in contention to be the face of the party in the elections on May 29, after the commission previously upheld an objection to Zuma being included on the list because of his previous conviction and sentence for contempt of court in 2021.

On Friday, the MK Party reacted strongly against the IEC after the commission confirmed that it would be challenging Tuesday’s judgement with the Apex Court.

MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela had this week called into question Love’s allegiance to the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa, with Ndhlela saying any attempt by the IEC to challenge the decision of the court would not be in the interest of the elections.

“After much considerable reflection, the MK Party condemns Janet Love’s conduct and therefore calls for her resignation as the Commissioner of the Commission of SA (IEC) with immediate effect for her blatant acts of bias.

“As the MKP, we were prepared to give Ms Love, who has been a loyal serving member of the ANC and a close confidante of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the benefit of the doubt. But in light of the above, we have now come to the conclusion that Janet Love is highly vested in the outcomes of the upcoming elections and cannot be trusted to oversee nor be involved in these elections,“ he said.

In October last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the former politician and anti-apartheid activist, Janet Love, as the Electoral Commissioner.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs recommended Love to the National Assembly to fill a vacancy at the IEC in September.

The National Assembly then approved the recommendation.

She was one of 12 candidates who were vying for the position, having served as the Vice Chairperson of the IEC since 2018.

Last year, there was controversy in the Democratic Republic of Congo in which four opposition political parties there called for her withdrawal after she was accused of having “helped legitimise the fraudulent fabrication of an electoral register".

Four Congolese opposition candidates called for Love’s withdrawal from the audit of last year’s voter registration in that country.

On Thursday, the IEC announced that it had lodged an urgent and direct appeal to the Constitutional Court relating to the order of the Electoral Court, setting aside its decision following the appeal of the MK Party.

The Commission denied allegations of interference and involving itself in the politics at play but said this was intended to achieve its mandate of a free and fair electoral process.

“The Commission believes there is substantial public interest in providing certainty on the proper interpretation of section 47(1)(e) and its interplay with the powers of the Commission to adjudicate objections to candidates. Such clarity is important in the present matter because of a live issue but also for future elections. It is important that such clarity is obtained from the highest court in the land which has constitutional matter jurisdiction. Hence, a direct appeal to the Constitutional Court,” the IEC said.

Professor of African and Elections Politics at Unisa Kealeboga Maphunye told “Saturday Star” that both the IEC and MK Party are well within their rights to fight the matter through the courts as this is in the interests of democracy and their rights as enshrined in the country’s constitution.

“MKP is within its rights to challenge the IEC. We should be applauding these interactions as voices are suppressed and we see the same faces in elections. The IEC wants to understand the reasons for the Electoral Court so that in future they are prepared in case of a precedence, should the matter arise in the future. We as the country have been through a similar situation in 2019, where a commissioner was singled out by a party and was found to have credible credentials. The MKP is also within its rights to challenge the IEC but we must be careful when dealing with institutions and not go for single individuals,“ Maphunye said.

Saturday Star