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IEC urgent ConCourt appeal over Zuma’s election participation ‘not political’

IEC urgent ConCourt appeal over Zuma’s election participation ‘not political’
Illustrative image | Jacob Zuma. (Photos: Ihsaan Haffejee / AFP | iStock | Gallo Images / Misha Jordaan)

The Independent Electoral Commission has lodged an urgent and direct appeal to the Constitutional Court relating to the order of the Electoral Court setting aside its decision following the appeal by the uMkhonto Wesizwe party. 

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) believes that taking the case to the Constitutional Court will assist in providing clarity on the interpretation of section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution. This law was at the centre of the case between the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party and the IEC.

“Such clarity is important in the present matter because of a live issue but also for future elections. It is furthermore important that such legal clarification is obtained from the highest court in the land which has constitutional-matter jurisdiction. Hence, a direct appeal to the Constitutional Court,” the IEC’s statement reads.

The MK party challenged the interpretation of section 47(1)(e), which sets the conditions under which a convicted citizen may not take public office.

Dali Mpofu argued that Zuma spent only three months in prison after he received a remission of sentence, which rendered his initial sentence of 15 months irrelevant.

He also argued that the commission had no jurisdiction to implement section 47 against the former president.

The statement issued on Friday morning, also explains why it is important for the commission to take the matter to a higher court. The commission however stressed that it was in no way trying to interfere with politcal matters.

“The Commission wishes to emphasise that this appeal is not intended to involve itself in the political field of play, it is rather to ensure free and fair elections by ensuring that applicable constitutional provisions relating to elections are clearly understood by all role-players and applied evenly. We therefore wish for the matter to be determined before the date of the election,” according to the statement.

The Electoral Court ruled this week that The MK party’s Jacob Zuma would remain on the parliamentary list, setting aside the commission’s decision to uphold an objection against the former president’s participation.

Read more in Daily Maverick: MK party wins Electoral Court case to allow Jacob Zuma to contest elections

“The application for leave to appeal is granted. The appeal succeeds. The decision of the Electoral Commission of 28 March 2024 in terms of which the Electoral Commission upheld Dr [Maroba] Matsapola’s objection to the second applicant’s candidacy (Mr Zuma) is set aside and substituted with the following: ‘The objection is hereby dismissed’,” the order reads.

Lack of full judgment fuels confusion

Since then, the full judgment has still not been issued by the Electoral Court to outline the reasoning behind the decision.

Many observers have questioned the reasoning behind the Electoral Court’s ruling on Zuma’s eligibility to stand for public office.

The IEC issued a statement urging the court to release its judgment to reveal how it made its decision.

Meanwhile, the final lists of candidates on the IEC website feature Zuma as the first candidate of the MK party, which paves the way for his return to public office.

The IEC had upheld an objection by a member of the public, Dr Maroba Matsapola, and disqualified Zuma from running in the elections, leading to the MK party successfully appealing in the matter. DM

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