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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘ConCourt ruling barring Zuma from Parliament a win for civil society’ − Corruption Watch

Zuma is not eligible to stand for election to the National Assembly until five years has passed since the completion of his sentence.

Corruption Watch said the judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court barring former president Jacob Zuma from standing for election to Parliament in the upcoming elections represents a win for civil society.

The ConCourt delivered its judgment on Monday, ruling in favour of the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC) appeal that Zuma is not eligible to stand for election to the National Assembly until five years has passed since the completion of his contempt of court sentence.

amicus curiae

In its submission as amicus curiae in the matter, Corruption Watch argued that a person convicted and sentenced by a court is disqualified from being a member of the National Assembly, which comes into effect immediately after sentencing.

“It is the fact that a sentence has been imposed, and not the sentence served, that applies.”

Karam Singh, Corruption Watch executive director said it is critical that the country’s elections laws are subject to a reasonable interpretation.

“The initial ruling of the Electoral Court was incorrect, and it was therefore essential that this be corrected by our apex court. There has been so little accountability for state capture, heightening the need for consequences to flow from former president Zuma’s failure to respect the Zondo Commission proceedings.

“It remains disappointing and concerning that charges emanating from the Arms Deal have not been concluded and we await the start of that trial in 2025,” Singh said.

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Judgement sound

Corruption Watch praised the soundness of this judgment, saying the careful and thorough review of arguments leading to a solid conclusion, and its demonstration of the strength and independence of the South African judiciary is an important protector of the Constitution.

“The contributions of the four amici curiae – Corruption Watch, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, and the Black Lawyers Association – also emphasises the vital role that civil society continues to play in protecting the health of the democracy.”

Corruption Watch also highlighted the importance of the correct application of 47(1)(e), emphasising that its purpose of disqualification is aimed at maintaining the integrity of the democratic regime, ensuring that members of the National Assembly “respect the rule of law and are not serious violators of the law”.

The IEC lodged a leave to appeal the application against an Electoral Court judgment delivered on 9 April.

The ruling overturned the commission’s decision to bar Zuma to stand for public office as a candidate for the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

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