uMkhonto weSizwe Challenges Electoral Commission’s Decision on Zuma

uMkhonto weSizwe Challenges Electoral Commission's Decision on Zuma

The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party has taken a firm stance against the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), accusing it of prematurely judging former President Jacob Zuma’s eligibility for the upcoming elections on May 29. According to the MK party, the IEC’s decision to exclude Zuma from the list of candidates is not only unfounded but also infringes upon his political rights.

Legal Grounds for Appeal

In a detailed appeal submitted to the Electoral Court, the MK’s legal team outlined several reasons they believe the IEC was mistaken in disqualifying Zuma. These include a failure to notify the party of the objection against Zuma’s candidacy, an overreach of the IEC’s authority concerning membership of the National Assembly, and a biased stance against Zuma, highlighted by a premature announcement from IEC commissioner Janet Love stating Zuma’s ineligibility.

The Basis of Disqualification

The controversy stems from Zuma’s imprisonment in 2021, following his refusal to continue testifying at the Zondo Commission regarding the alleged looting of state resources by the Gupta family and associates. The IEC cited Zuma’s incarceration for over 12 months without the option of a fine as the reason for his removal from the candidate list.

The Argument for Eligibility

The MK party challenges the IEC’s decision on several fronts, arguing that Zuma’s political rights have been unjustly violated. They assert that Zuma’s case, being of civil contempt rather than a criminal conviction, should not disqualify him. Furthermore, they highlight that Zuma’s sentence was effectively reduced to three months after being released on medical parole and receiving a presidential remission, thus not meeting the constitutional disqualification threshold.

The party draws parallels with a 2009 case involving Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, where the court ruled in favor of eligibility, suggesting that precedent supports Zuma’s right to stand as a candidate. With the final candidate list due to be published by April 10, the Electoral Court’s decision is eagerly awaited.

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