Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

‘IEC is non-political’ – Rampahosa defends commission over Zuma legal battle

The IEC has approached ConCourt with an urgent application to keep Zuma from contesting this year's elections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) amid a legal battle with former president Jacob Zuma over his election candidacy.

The IEC has turned to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) after the Electoral Court ruled this week that Zuma would remain on the parliamentary list of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

The ruling, therefore, set aside the IEC’s decision to uphold an objection against the former president’s participation ahead of the 2024 national and provincial elections.

ALSO READ: IEC seeks clarity: Zuma, MK Party case goes to ConCourt

The commission, however, asked the ConCourt to provide clarity on the interpretation of Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution.

The MK party contested the interpretation of Section 47(1)(e), which deals with the circumstances barring a convicted individual from holding public office.

Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the MK party, argued before the Electoral Court that Zuma’s three-month imprisonment, followed by a sentence remission, nullified the relevance of his initial 15-month sentence.

Mpofu further asserted that the IEC lacked the powers to enforce Section 47.

‘IEC is independent’

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an ANC campaign in Cosmo City, Ramaphosa responded to accusations that IEC was entering the political arena by approaching the ConCourt.

“The IEC is inherently non-political, it is independent and we must defend its independence, just as we should defend the independence of our courts,” he told reporters.

The president also commented on MK party’s call for resignation of IEC commissioner, Janet Love.

RELATED: IEC: Why did Electoral Court allow Zuma’s parliamentary candidacy?

The party accuses Love of being biased.

“No individual or IEC official should be pointed out as having done this or that.

“It is the entire IEC commission that has taken a decision and the decision is based, as I have heard and understood it, on bringing clarity to the law so that the Constitutional Court, which is the repository or entity that should interpret our law, can give clarity once and for all,” Ramaphosa said.

Zuma slams Ramaphosa, IEC

This week, Zuma took a swipe at Ramaphosa over the Phala Phala farm scandal and criticised the IEC for barring him as a candidate.

“Where does IEC enter into politics? Their job is to help citizens vote. Who the next president of the nation is is none of their business.

“They saw my name and now they are saying Zuma will never go there,” the former president said outside the High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

READ MORE: Will Zuma go all the way to the Union Buildings?

The IEC, in a statement on Friday, explained the commission decided to take the matter to a higher court.

“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,” the statement reads.

“We, therefore, wish for the matter to be determined before the date of the election,” according to the statement.

Meanwhile, Zuma has stressed that he has “unfinished business” as he never completed his term as president.

This year’s elections will take place on 29 May.