The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) attempted to prevent former president and MK leader, Jacob Zuma, from contesting in the 2024 Elections. But Zuma’s triumph in an appeal against IEC’s disqualification is said to be a demonstration of the objectivity and neutrality of the Electoral Court. His name was at the top of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party’s candidate list, which raised objections from the commission because of Zuma’s short imprisonment in 2021.

    To the surprise of many, the Electoral Court (EC) overturned the IEC’s decision when Zuma challenged it on Tuesday. Despite the former president’s 15-month prison sentence for contempt of the Constitutional Court a few years ago, the EC’s dismissal of the IEC will make it possible for Zuma to run for parliament.

    The IEC has until Friday to submit their concerns for the court’s judgment.

    Zuma’s triumph in an appeal against IEC – Reasons Ruling Remain Unclear

    Advocates Dali Mpofu, representing Jacob Zuma, and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, representing the IEC battled it out in the EC earlier this week.

    Mpofu advised that “Zuma was not convicted of an offence through criminal proceedings, including sitting in a trial and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to grant him remission effectively reduced the 15-month sentence.” He said,

    “The point of the matter is that we all know that there was no trial, plea, or standing in the dock.”

    Ngcukaitobi argued that “Section 47 of the Constitution was intended to ensure lawbreakers did not become lawmakers.” He emphasised,

    “What the Constitution drafters are trying to tell us is that serious lawbreakers should not be lawmakers; that is the purpose behind Section 47 [1] [e] of the Constitution.”

    There has been much speculation about the reasons behind the EC’s ruling, with some citing the MK Party’s threats against the IEC as a consideration. But some maintain the fairness and impartiality of the judgment.

    MK Party’s Threat to the ANC

    There have been multiple attempts to block the MK Party from candidacy in the upcoming elections, particularly by the ruling party. It is doubtful that Zuma and the MK party will capture much of the electorate, but their appearance on the national ballot paper is a threat to the ANC, diluting its influence.

    Zuma has since asserted to MK Party supporters that he should have the right to serve as president should he be elected to do so. To qualify for the position, he’d have to meet two of the Constitutions provisions:

    1. The candidate must be a Member of Parliament.
    2. The candidate cannot serve more than two terms.

    Zuma meets the first criteria but not the second. But he argues:

    “They forgot that I did not finish my term; they removed me before I could complete my term.”

    “There is something that I need to go and take care of over there [at the Union Buildings].”

    Conclusion

    The Electoral Court’s decision to allow Jacob Zuma to contest in the 2024 Elections, despite the IEC’s initial disqualification, marks a significant moment in South Africa’s political landscape. This ruling not only underscores the independence and impartiality of the Electoral Court but also highlights the complexities of legal interpretations in the context of political eligibility. The debate between advocates Mpofu and Ngcukaitobi sheds light on the nuanced arguments surrounding constitutional law and the eligibility of individuals with legal controversies to participate in democratic processes.

    Related: IEC Bars Jacob Zuma from 2024 Elections – MK Party Challenges Decision.

    Moreover, the MK Party’s challenge to the ANC’s dominance reflects the evolving dynamics within South African politics, where new and emerging parties are increasingly contesting the traditional power structures. This situation is indicative of a broader trend towards political pluralism and the contestation of established narratives. Ultimately, the outcome of this appeal and its implications for the 2024 Elections will likely continue to provoke debate and analysis.

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