IEC and Freedom Under Law want Electoral Court to furnish them with reasons for its judgment

MK Party leader Jacob Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

MK Party leader Jacob Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 11, 2024


Freedom Under Law has joined the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) in its request for the Electoral Court to furnish it with reasoned judgments over its decision to grant former president Jacob Zuma and the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) the right to appeal its Tuesday judgment.

Yesterday, Freedom Under Law in a statement called for the urgent release of reasons for the decision by the Electoral Court.

“Freedom Under Law (FUL) notes the decision of the Electoral Court on 9 April 2024, which overturns a finding of the IEC and allows for former president Jacob Zuma to be included on the list of candidates to contest the upcoming national elections for the MK political party. The Court has to date only issued its order, with reasons for the decision still to be given,” FUL said.

FUL, the judiciary watchdog, said the reasons should be given as Zuma had initially been disqualified based on an objection grounded in provisions of the Constitution which preclude anyone convicted of an office and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment from being a member of the National Assembly.

“The need for an urgent decision on this matter is understandable, considering that elections are imminent. However, the reasons for the decision are of importance, both for the eligibility of the candidate in question, and as a general precedent. The rule of law requires that courts give fully motivated reasons for their decisions,” FUL said.

On Tuesday, the IEC said it was consulting with its lawyers on the way forward regarding Tuesday’s ruling which dismissed its objection against MKP leader Jacob Zuma’s candidacy as the face of the party.

The Electoral Court ruled in favour of Zuma after he approached the court to appeal against a decision in which he was disqualified from standing for public office.

The IEC decided to uphold an objection that was made against the president’s candidacy.

In a statement on Tuesday, shortly after the Electoral Court’s decision, the commission said it wanted to be furnished with the reasons behind the judgment.

It is not clear at this stage if the commission will appeal the decision, but it said it was studying the judgment and would chart a way forward in due course.

“The Electoral Commission has today received two orders from the Electoral Court. We have taken note of the contents of both orders. Furthermore, we have noted that the orders were issued without reasoned judgment. In order to understand the basis of the conclusions reached in both matters, it is important that reasons are provided. We will accordingly request the Electoral Court to hand down reasons for the orders made,” said the commission.

“Naturally, the commission is taking legal advice on both matters and will chart a way forward based on such advice as well as reasoned judgments that it may receive, hopefully, in the not-too-distant future,” it said.

Reacting to the judgment on Tuesday, MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said any appeal by the IEC would be seen as a desperate attempt against Zuma and not in the interests of justice.

“This verdict sends a strong message to the Ramaphosa ANC and its allies that any attempt to subvert the law for political advantage will not be tolerated by the MK Party, its members, supporters and all the people of South Africa,” Ndhlela said.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the Electoral Court’s judgment had boosted the MKP ahead of the elections.

“This decision by the Electoral Court to overturn the IEC’s decision is a major boost for President Zuma and the MK Party. It comes at a time when the party is steaming ahead in terms of growing its support,” Seepe said.

The Star