Thando Nondlwana

By Thando Nondywana

News Reporter

‘Zuma has no leg to stand on’: Law is clear that he can’t contest elections as a candidate

Legal expert dismantles Zuma's court challenge, citing clear electoral law and constitutional provisions against his candidacy.

Jacob Zuma doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on in his court challenge to fight his exclusion as a candidate in the upcoming elections, says an expert.

Independent analyst Sandile Swana said the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party’s challenge against the IEC did not align with the established election law or constitutional provisions.

Law was clearly ‘black and white’

He said the law was clearly “black and white” and that the party, which is led by Zuma, was aware he would not be able to stand for elections as its presidential candidate.

“This is a matter of publicly stated electoral law of South Africa,” said Swana.

Watch: Jacob Zuma supporters protest outside Johannesburg High Court

This was not a matter for parliament, as had been suggested by MK advocate Dali Mpofu in the High Court in Johannesburg yesterday.

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“The position by Dali Mpofu is not in accordance with existing law,” he said.

“During this election campaign period, the MK party is getting free mileage with using the courts and continuing… to profile Zuma as a victim of the ruling class who has been hunted, chased down and excluded from getting into office and this time, implement radical economic transformation.”

Political mileage to garner sympathy

He said the court case was to try to make political mileage to garner sympathy and say that the ANC saw Zuma as a major threat to its governance.

“The MK party and Dali Mpofu know they are using the courts to get political mileage because they know they have little or no favourable judgment in the matter they have before the court.

“The National Assembly that the advocate is referring to is dominated by the ANC, and they will not vote in favour of putting Zuma on the ballot paper.”

ALSO READ: MK party vs IEC: Exclusion verdict to be handed down on Tuesday

A crowd supporting Jacob Zuma brandish placards outside the High Court in Johannesburg yesterday at the former president’s court appearance. Pictures: Michel Bega

Electoral analyst Wayne Sussman said if the court ruled that Zuma would be eligible, it would act as a precedent for other candidates who found themselves in a similar position.

He said he did not believe the party would emerge weaker from any decision taken by the Electoral Court.

“The party is likely to do what the IFP [Inkatha Freedom Party] did and put Zuma on the campaign trail.

“He’ll still be the face of the party and be on the posters. He’ll still be the keynote speaker at all the rallies. He can still have influence on how the people perceive the party,” said Sussman.

Zuma’s 2021 conviction for contempt of court

The decision to uphold an objection against Zuma’s candidacy stems from his 2021 conviction for contempt of court for which he was jailed and later paroled.

ALSO READ: ‘Law breakers should not be lawmakers’: Ngcukaitobi argues that Zuma does not qualify for Parliament

The Constitutional Court sentenced Zuma to 15 months in prison for contempt of court after he failed to appear at the state capture commission.

The Electoral Court heard Mpofu argue that the IEC had no authority to exclude Zuma under section 47 of the Electoral Act. He also claimed the IEC’s conduct contravened section 9 of the Electoral Commission Act.

Mpofu said while there was an offence committed, there was no conviction and argued that the effective sentence Zuma had served was three months.

IEC had power to make rulings

IEC representative Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told the court that the IEC had the power, derived from the Electoral Commission Act and the constitution, to make rulings.

In its court papers, the IEC argued that the fact that the MK had marched to its offices in February – where one of the demands was that Zuma be allowed to stand as a candidate – indicated that the former president and his party knew “of the substance of the likely objections”.

ALSO READ: MK party vs IEC: ‘Zuma was not pardoned, he received a remission’ – Mpofu