Who will replace Zuma as uMkhonto weSizwe Party parliamentary leader?

FORMER president Jacob Zuma addressing uMkhonto weSizwe Party followers outside the Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

FORMER president Jacob Zuma addressing uMkhonto weSizwe Party followers outside the Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published May 26, 2024


DISCUSSIONS are under way in the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) over who will replace former president Jacob Zuma after he was barred by the Constitutional Court from being a candidate for Wednesday’s national and provincial elections.

In its unanimous judgment handed down this week, the apex court granted the appeal by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) of the Electoral Court ruling that gave Zuma the green light to become a candidate for the polls.

“The applicant (the IEC) is granted leave to appeal directly to this court. It is declared that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment for purposes of section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution and is accordingly not eligible to be a member of, and not qualified to, stand for elections in the National Assembly until five years have elapsed since the completion of his sentence,” reads the judgment.

The country’s highest court ordered that the Electoral Court ruling be set aside and replaced with an order dismissing Zuma’s appeal of the objections raised against his candidacy.

Sources within the MKP told the Sunday Independent that while the ballot remains as is as declared by the IEC, the proverbial bridge regarding the leader of the party’s caucus in Parliament will be crossed after the elections even though discussions are ongoing on the options.

The IEC received 22 objections to Zuma’s candidacy and upheld two by Dr Maroba Matsapola and Bethuel Terrence Nkosi, who later distanced himself from his objection.

The commission found that Zuma was not qualified to stand in the election and the ex-president and MKP approached the Electoral Court, which ruled in their favour.

The Electoral Court found that the effect of the remission of Zuma’s 15 months’ sentence for contempt of court was to reduce the sentence to three months’ imprisonment.

Zuma filed a counter-application to have Constitutional Court Justices Mbuyiseli Madlanga, Steven Majiedt, Nonkosi Mhlantla, Leona Theron and Zukisa Tshiqi also recuse themselves from hearing the matter set down earlier this month.

The justices declined to recuse themselves and dismissed the recusal application.

Zuma also wanted Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to recuse himself but he had already recused himself when the application came before this court and was not part of these proceedings.

Zuma believed the justices were bound to seek to interpret their own previous decision which now lies at the heart of the issues arising in this appeal in such a way as to automatically differ with the unanimous view of the Electoral Court.

“It is not uncommon for judges to interpret and apply their previous decisions. Judges do this all the time. Judges often hear different matters relating to the same applicant without that providing a justifiable basis for recusal. Leave to appeal and rescission applications are generally brought before the same judge,” reads the judgment written by Justice Theron.

Zuma was found to have failed to prove that there could be any reasonable apprehension that the judges in question would fail to bring an impartial mind to bear on the adjudication of the matter.

Justices Matsapola and Nkosi did not participate in the Constitutional Court matter brought by the IEC.

MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhela said the party had not yet decided who its leader would be in Parliament should it win enough votes to have MPs.

“Our view is that (former) president Zuma will still lead us as president,” he said.