MK Party ‘vindicated’ as Electoral Court rules in favour of Zuma

MK Party ‘vindicated’ as Electoral Court rules in favour of Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English

MK Party ‘vindicated’ as Electoral Court rules in favour of Zuma. Picture: Itumeleng English

Published Apr 9, 2024


The uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) said it felt vindicated by the decision of the Electoral Court following its appeal against the objection of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) to bar its leader, Jacob Zuma, from contesting the coming elections.

On Tuesday, the Electoral Court granted the party and Zuma the right to appeal against the Electoral Commission’s objection against Zuma’s candidacy as the face of the party.

“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, told The Star.

The court ruled that the decision to uphold an objection to Zuma’s candidacy had been dismissed and this had opened the door for Zuma to freely contest the elections next month.

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.

Zuma was given the 15-month term by the Constitutional Court in 2021 for his refusal to return to the state capture commission.

On Monday, advocate Dali Mpofu SC successfully argued that Zuma was being disadvantaged by the IEC in its objection, saying the IEC had no legal standing to object to Zuma who was given a lesser sentence when 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.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein granted the application for leave to appeal.

“Having heard the counsel for the parties and having read the papers filed of record, the following order is made: the application for leave to appeal is granted. The appeal succeeds. The decision of the Electoral Commission is upheld, Dr Maroba Matsapola’s objection to the second applicant’s candidacy (Mr Zuma) is set aside and substituted with the following: The objection is hereby dismissed and no order is made as to costs,” the judges found.

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.

Visvin Reddy, President of the African Democratic Change (ADC) party and a member of the MK Party, said “the news brings immense joy as it paves the way for Zuma to resume and complete the impactful work he initiated as the head of state of South Africa”.

“We cannot overlook the significant accomplishments achieved under Zuma’s leadership. It was Zuma who fearlessly pioneered Radical Economic Transformation, aiming to distribute the wealth of the land more equitably and uplift the lives of the Black child. Additionally, Zuma ensured that fuel prices remained accessible, benefiting all South Africans by keeping it at R11 a litre,” Reddy said.

According to political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe, there is concern within the ANC regarding the presence of Zuma on the ballot paper.

Seepe said Zuma is loved by many, is a crowd puller and people who would normally vote for the ANC will now vote for the MK Party.

“The ANC should be concerned about Zuma’s comeback because the people who are going to vote Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party would normally vote for the ANC. So if MK runs with Zuma as the number one candidate, we know that he is a crowd puller than any other political leader except for Julius Malema,” he said. | Additional reporting by Kamogelo Moichela