JZ takes on IEC over list objection

Former president Jacob Zuma and MK Party are appealing the IEC’s decision to remove his name of parliamentary list. s(Photo by Ihsaan HAFFEJEE / AFP)

Former president Jacob Zuma and MK Party are appealing the IEC’s decision to remove his name of parliamentary list. s(Photo by Ihsaan HAFFEJEE / AFP)

Published Apr 3, 2024


Durban — Umkhonto weSizwe Party leader and former national president Jacob Zuma has appealed against the Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC) decision to uphold an objection lodged against Zuma’s candidacy to return to Parliament.

Speaking to the Daily News hours before the deadline expired on Tuesday, MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said the lawyers had filed papers in the Electoral Court.

The appeal was based on the fact that Zuma was not convicted criminally but just for contempt of court, therefore he has no criminal record, he said.

In 2021, the Constitutional Court ordered: “(it) is declared that Mr Jacob Zuma is guilty of the crime of contempt of court for failure to comply with the order made by this court in Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State v Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and Others… ”

Ndhlela said, “As far as we understand that constitutional clause they (the IEC) talk about refers to people with criminal records; we do not think Zuma falls under that category.”

The party said Zuma’s matter can be characterised and described as civil contempt proceedings that invoke a criminal sanction or threat.

On Tuesday was the deadline for people to lodge appeals against objections made against them at the Electoral Court. Last week, the electoral body upheld the objection against Zuma’s inclusion on the parliamentary list. Zuma appeared at number one on the list.

The decision to omit Zuma was taken following last week’s public candidate list inspection process.

Speaking to the SABC earlier in the day, Ndhlela said: “uMkhonto weSizwe as a party went through the court process that we won in the Electoral Court. It is going to be on the ballot paper, that is one thing that ought to be clear because there is a notion that President Zuma’s face or a leader’s face ought to be in the ballot and I think that’s a wrong view of it. The actual emblem or the logo of a political party is going to be there, so it’s not a face per se.”

In the notice of the appeal seen by Tuesday, the party quoted Judge Sisi Khampepe’s (now retired) then remarks: “To this effect, Khampepe ACDJ correctly pointed out that ‘(it) is not a conventional criminal trial’ 2 and that ‘a respondent in contempt proceedings is not an accused person’ as envisioned by Section 35 of the Constitution”.

The party further argued that President Cyril Ramaphosa granted Zuma remission of his sentence, which has the effect of reducing a prisoner’s sentence of imprisonment and/or extinguishing the remaining part of it.

“As at the date of the Presidential remission of the sentence, Mr Zuma had served just less than 3 months of the original sentence. By the act of remission the remaining 12 months portion of the sentence was extinguished.

“Therefore, his effective or ultimate sentence was reduced to approximately 3 months which is less than the 12 months yardstick prescribed in section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution,” read the appeal document.

On Tuesday the electoral body was unable to confirm or deny Zuma’s appeal, saying it would have to find out from the Electoral Court whether Zuma met the deadline or not.

The body relied on Section 47(e) of the Constitution, which bars anyone convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment, without an option of a fine, from holding public office. Section 47 of the Constitution provides that: (1) Every citizen qualified to vote for the National Assembly is eligible to be a member of the Assembly, except anyone who … is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic or outside if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic.

“Therefore, this provision renders former president JG Zuma disqualified to be on the list of any party contesting an election or to contest as an independent in the upcoming 2024 elections,” the IEC had told the Daily News in January.

The section further states that the disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed, which still bars Zuma since he has not finished five years out of jail This means that Zuma will have to try his luck in the 2029 general elections.

Addressing the Nazareth Baptist Church’s annual pilgrimage in January at the Canaan Holy Mountain in Ndwedwe north of Durban, Zuma told the congregation that he was removed while he was still fighting for black people, therefore he wanted to go back to fix things that had not been fixed.

This has been construed as referring to his tenure as state president. He also asked the congregation to pray for him to get back.

Zuma was convicted and sentenced to 15 months after he was found guilty of defying a summons to appear before the State Capture Commission in 2021.

He served a few months at the Estcourt Correctional Services, and after spending some time in a military hospital, he was released on parole and subsequently received a presidential pardon after the parole was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court.

He went back to the same Correctional Services centre just for his remission to be processed in August last year.

Zuma has been criss-crossing the country campaigning for the MK Party after he publicly endorsed it on December 16, when he acknowledged the party was formed with his knowledge and blessings.

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