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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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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    If ever there was a question for the concourt this is it.

    • Philip Machanick says:

      Yes. The wording of the relevant section looks clear to me. Sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine and you get 15 months.

      In Freedom Front Plus v African National Congress (02/2009) [2009] ZAEC 4 (31 March 2009), where the objection to Winnie being a candidate, is not the exact same issue. In her case, the court ruled that the 5-year wait could not start from the point where the period of suspension ended, as that was not jail time. The point in contention then was when the original sentence was “completed”. In this case, such an argument is moot as it has not been more than 5 years since Zuma walked out of jail or since his remission.

      A substantive point that could be argued is whether remission shortened the sentence; arguments I have read from actual lawyers dispute this as a valid argument.

      The Electoral Court may also have decided that IEC made process errors; this would not preclude Zuma from being excluded from parliament if MK wins enough (at least one) seats.

      On the MK argument that it is not for the IEC to decide: that wasn’t argued in Winnie’s case; whether this court accepted that or not, it would definitely be a question for the ConCourt.

  • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

    I guess if appeal admitted the ruling of electoral court will be suspended, interesting to watch.
    In my understanding remission of sentence reduced the prison actual period convicts spend in prison not the sentence.
    We will follow the experts.

    • Malcolm McManus says:

      I would think so, but the way our legal system works these days, I am guessing the Concourt will need to consult the nearest grade 1 school before making a ruling.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      I would agree Kenneth…… especially as we have not seen any written judgement yet Electoral Court

    • Peter Dexter says:

      I tend to agree Kenneth, like early parole. I believe the stated reason was over crowding in our prisons, so thousands of prisoners were released along with Zuma- in a feeble attempt to disguise its political nature.

  • Jabulani Dube says:

    Now it’s clear that IEC is a political tool. Cos now it seems IEC is involved deep into this politics. Why arguing with the court’s decision? Let the people speak for themselves in ballot language

  • Barry Nkomo says:

    Separation of powers is very important here. The Concourt is obviously going to stick to its verdict about the matter
    -that Zuma is guilty and must go serve the time of 15 months. I think what the electoral court did was influenced by political rather than judicial facts and thinking. That’s why they cant issue the reasons even by now.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      And if he was paroled for a terminal illness and then he stands fit infront of the court it should mean the parole should be revoked, the conditions has changed and the court will be witnessing it, guessing again.

      • Peter Dexter says:

        You make another very good point. Zuma was terminally ill back in 2021 and was released from prison by his chommie, Arthur Fraser, to go home and die. If the citizens are to believe that how can he be fit enough to lead a party in the National Assembly? He was either lying then or now. Either way there is an integrity issue.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    oh well if he does get in he gets paid a parliamentarians salary not his ex Presidents one. or am I dreaming?

  • Andrew Newman says:

    No doubt JZ will try to get all Con Court judges to recuse themselves and refuse the case.

  • John P says:

    DM that is the wrong MK logo in your image. The MK party logo has the spear at waist level not above the head.

  • Kay Sibanda says:

    Yes the higher court will give clarity.

  • modibawilliamlekalakala says:

    I’m of the opinion the iEC is within its right to appeal to the constitutional Court since they are the authority to interpret the constitunality of section 417 and set the matter to rest. As for the electoral judges I think they got it completely wrong and in so doing opened the door for criminals to enact laws to assist them to evade justice.

  • drew barrimore says:

    Since the Concourt has failed to produce a single judgement this year, and we’re half-way through the fourth month, and since the Concourt has made no inroads into a staggering backlog, I wouldn’t hold my breath. What will take your breath away is the money these pot-plants receive.

  • Mark Ogle says:

    Does the Electoral court have jurisdiction to rule on interpretation of the Constitution?

  • Sliver Fox says:

    Zuma went from “terribly ill” to qualify for medical parole, to running an opposition party and being its presidential candidate. His supporters are fools to believe a single word that leaves his lips. This man has no honour.

  • It’s so funny!!!!I hope he has stamina for court.as zj has any right to appeal every court judgement against him it’s his turn to dragged to court n he is going to face Zondo as showedvZondo middle finger.
    What goes around definitely comes around
    Enjoy the circus dude

  • Skinyela Skinyela says:

    So the constitutional court is expected to rule whether a court order was correct or wrong, without knowing the reasons behind it?

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Courts are dangerous places to play around, a double whammy ruling is possible if they uphold the 15 months, a follow up question will be the Parole validity and the question of the validity of the presidential pardon as to how can you pardon someone for release when the person is already out on a parole of terminal illness, worse the terminal person is declaring he is fit to go on the ballot paper and do critical work of being a law maker when he was found guilty of contempt of a court of law.
      It’s amazing that JZ found difficulty in doing nothing in a jail cell how difficult will it be when he has to do actual work.

  • Brian Dutlow says:

    The old man has his dedicated followers. It is best if they are given their way. No doubts this will take a slice from the ANC support. This devide will probibly help other parties to make a major inroad.

  • goldenhouse7 says:

    Thank you.

  • BOB Rernard says:

    Let there be no illusion that our courts are free and fair. Persons of “Good standing” only can stand for senior political positions. zuma can hardly be described as such.

    The courts do not make judgments, people do. Brick/mortar structures do not make rulings in law, people do. Our collective courts are broken and corrupt, run by individuals doing favours for relatives, friends and well connected people. Magistrates and judges hide behind the protection of “the court” in making obscenely erroneous rulings. They are untouchable and free to operate with impunity. The so called profession bodies like the magistrates commission, the various law society’s, the judicial services commission, general council of the bar etc are meant to police judicial misconduct so that all people may receive fair treatment in our courts. Instead we have highly questionable rulings by effectively chosen, favoured and specifically placed individuals. The professional bodies are toothless and indifferent to overtly unethical conduct and effectively close-ranks to protect subs-paying members of the profession. Magistrates are appallingly biased, but these low level courts are off the radar.

    In past years the legal profession was a war zone of race and gender. Whites held onto magistrate and prosecutor positions to the detriment of other races, and women magistrates made appalling rulings in courts against men.

  • Lucifer's Consiglieri says:

    All highly speculative as the Electoral Court’s reasons are still a mystery. My own view would be that the strongest case was that a contempt of court conviction is unique and follows a different process from that of other criminal charges. But until the reasons are published, we are none the wiser.

  • Steve Price says:

    Will the Constitutional Court not argue that an appeal can not be heard properly unless the full judgement is known because the appeal argument hinges on points of law in the full judgment, not the ruling itself. Mpofu’s defence plan appears to revolve around timing Perhaps in future, courses in lawfare will come to include “timing” as a special tactic with this as a classic case. The law is hoist with its own petard because lawyers regularly use tactics like dumping 100 pages of argument on the opposition before long weekends to put opposition lawyers under stress. A lot more than electoral law needs to be seriously looked at

  • Mxolisi Maome says:

    It is a relief… Put aside who the person is… Remission of sentence or parole does not mean a a prisoner has completed a sentence. It was shocking to listen to one of the judges happing on ‘completion ‘ to point of giving her own version of events..It will be a mockery if electoral is left to misinterpretation. The CC must apply the law…

  • Peter Holmes says:

    All this is costing the taxpayer (me) money. I resent that.

  • David Pennington says:

    No mater which party wins the election, the looting will continue, at least with Zuma we know who is in charge of the thievery

  • Just Me says:

    What is the delta between MK with and without Zuma on the list?

  • Bill Gild says:

    “Not political”. What utter nonsense!

  • ilike homophones says:

    leave zuma alone!!!

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      No ilike Zuma must leave the public alone, he has left his private space and says he wants to be public property.
      Secondly you are not putting forwards facts why he must be left alone.
      People will think you feel he must be left alone because you love him.

  • Mishack Junior says:

    Nerville Chamberlain tried in van to appease Hitler, Cyril strategy to placate Zuma misread what kind of a person he was dealing with. Zuma hatred for Cryil has its roots in Cyril refusal to interfere with the prosecution services by instructing it to stop prosecuting Zuma. Zuma knows very well that in order to safe himself and possibly his children he has to seek political power which is currently utilized by lots of politicians to evade justice, from Malema, Zuma and possibly Cyril.

  • ronzas73 says:

    Thanks

  • Nicolas Panayotou says:

    As a pensioner, I find consolation and hope when I read your newspaper
    thank you and keep it up .

  • jacoboupamoatshe93 says:

    Can a person stand for gov s post or b elected while He or She is under investigation for any crime???

  • Titus Khoza says:

    You must remember that there is a special rule book in our country, made especially for Mpofu and his like minded puppet on a chain Zuma.

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