Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Joins as Amicus Curiae in IEC-Zuma Case

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Joins as Amicus Curiae in IEC-Zuma Case

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (AKF) has been admitted as an amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” in the upcoming legal battle between the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP). The case, which is expected to be heard this week at the Constitutional Court, will determine whether former President Jacob Zuma is eligible to serve in Parliament following his 2021 conviction and jail sentence.

The Constitutional Court Challenge

The Constitutional Court will deliberate on Friday, May 10, whether Zuma’s previous sentence precludes him from holding a parliamentary seat. The former president was initially removed from the election candidate list after being sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment in July 2021 for contempt of court. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which previously referred to Zuma as a “political delinquent,” supports the IEC’s appeal and has called for the court to clarify the constitutional guidelines on disqualifying candidates.
Controversy Over Section 47(1)(e)

The foundation criticised the interpretation of Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution, which pertains to candidate disqualification due to criminal conduct, particularly regarding the availability of an appeal. According to Ahmed Kathrada Foundation:

“It seems clear that the section is intended to disqualify those whose conduct merits such censure that they cannot be considered suitable public representatives. Zuma’s utterly unambiguous contempt for the Zondo Commission and the Constitutional Court must place him in that category.”

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation argued that an appeal should not be available given the nature of Zuma’s contempt, especially as it was directed at the highest court in South Africa.

Separation of Powers Concerns

The foundation further disputed the Electoral Court’s ruling that remission of Zuma’s sentence would affect Section 47(1)(e), cautioning:

“That finding has significant separation of powers implications and is an interpretation which we believe the Constitutional Court must also provide clarity on.”

Zuma’s Counter-Application Against Judges

In response to the upcoming case, Zuma filed a counter-application seeking to disqualify six Constitutional Court judges from presiding over his appeal, citing concerns over impartiality. He claimed that at least six justices are compromised by bias and are unfit to adjudicate his matter with the IEC. Among them is Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, although he will not be involved in hearing the case.

As leader and president of uMkhonto weSizwe Party, Zuma remains central to the party’s direction. The Constitutional Court’s ruling will determine whether he can continue to participate in parliamentary politics or face exclusion due to his criminal record.

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