Electoral Court Rules in Favor of Jacob Zuma’s Candidacy

Electoral Court Rules in Favor of Jacob Zuma's Candidacy

In a significant legal turn of events, the Electoral Court has decided in favor of allowing the former South African President Jacob Zuma to be included on the candidate list for the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) in upcoming elections. This decision, revealed on Tuesday, reverses the earlier ruling by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) which had disqualified Zuma due to his contempt of court conviction, entailing a 15-month prison sentence, as decreed by the Constitutional Court.

The court’s ruling on Tuesday specifically annulled the IEC’s endorsement of an objection against Zuma’s candidacy, stating,

“the decision of the IEC in terms of which it upheld an objection to Zuma appearing on MK Party’s list ‘is set aside and substituted with the following: ‘The objection is hereby dismissed’.”

Notably, the court has refrained from imposing any costs, and its comprehensive rationale for the decision was not immediately disclosed.

MK Party’s Response to the Ruling

Following the court’s announcement, the MK Party expressed its satisfaction and sense of validation.

“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,”

shared MK Party spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndhlela.

The IEC’s stance, citing sections 47 and 106 of the South African Constitution—which detail the eligibility criteria for membership in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures—had previously led to Zuma’s ineligibility due to his prison sentence.

Legal Arguments and Advocacy

Advocate Dali Mpofu SC, representing the former president, challenged the IEC’s decision, arguing that Zuma had been unjustly disadvantaged. Mpofu highlighted the uniqueness of Zuma’s situation, given the absence of a traditional trial or plea, and the subsequent commutation of his sentence by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Conversely, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, representing the IEC, defended the commission’s application of the Constitution, arguing that the sentence’s commutation did not negate the Constitutional Court’s original judgment.

The MK Party had previously voiced confidence in overturning the IEC’s decision, critiquing it as biased and legally flawed, and emphasized their commitment to defending Zuma’s rights.

Reactions and Implications

The IEC, through its deputy CEO Mawethu Mosery, stated it would refrain from commenting until further internal discussions were held.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo viewed the court’s decision as a pivotal moment for the MK Party’s potential to “disrupt” South Africa’s political scene. Khumalo elaborated on the implications of the ruling for the electorate and the stability of the political landscape, positing that the MK Party, while unlikely to secure a dominant majority, could significantly impact the political equilibrium.

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