Zuma’s arrest by Concourt does not hold water, says MKP

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 3, 2024


The MKP and the lawyers representing former president Jacob Zuma in the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) matter have argued that Zuma’s arrest by the Constitutional Court, on contempt of court charges, does not hold water.

On Tuesday, Zuma, through his lawyers, filed court papers appealing against last week’s IEC ruling which upheld a decision to prevent Zuma from contesting the upcoming elections.

Last week, the IEC upheld an objection against Zuma, who in 2021 was given a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court, after he refused to return to the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.

In the papers filed with the Electoral Court, the lawyers argue that Zuma was not convicted of a crime but for contempt of court. That, they said, equated to a civil offence and not a criminal offence. Zuma should therefore be eligible to contest the election on May 29.

The papers also argue that Zuma was not given the option to appeal his 15-month sentence and that the subsequent remission of his sentence was not taken into account.

MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela told SABC News on Wednesday that the IEC had not acted in accordance with the rule of law principle.

“The IEC Act exists off the back of the constitution. So, effectively, what that means is that they must draw any decisions that they make off the back of a court outcome of which, in this case, we would like to believe is making us raise eyebrows about the IEC’s posture. Because what it seems is them having put the cart before the horse in announcing that President Zuma cannot participate in our parliamentary list in Parliament.

“How is that so when they themselves announce that they will take guidance from the courts? We haven’t been to court to deal with this appeal in the first place,” he said.

The Electoral Court has until April 9 to determine the MKP’s appeal.

The party is of the view that it has a strong case against the IEC, with Ndhlela saying: “President Zuma was not incarcerated off the back of what would be Section 35 of the Constitution, where he ought to be before a judge and have a fair trial. President Zuma was incarcerated by the Constitutional Court without being afforded his constitutional right to a fair trial,” he said.

However, during a media briefing, explaining its decision to uphold the objection, IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya announced that the IEC’s decision to bar Zuma from contesting the elections was taken following the public candidate list inspection process.