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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

‘Constitutional crisis’? ConCourt sets Thursday deadline for Zuma and MK party

MK party claims ConCourt in a 'conflicted' position because of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's previous run-ins with Jacob Zuma.

The Constitutional Court (ConCourt) has called on former president Jacob Zuma and his uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party to file their answering affidavits to an urgent appeal by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) by Thursday.

The IEC approached the highest court in the land after the Electoral Court set aside an objection to Zuma running in next month’s election because he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. 

That ruling meant Zuma would remain on the parliamentary list for the MK party.

It has been two weeks and the Electoral Court has yet to provide reasons for its decision.

ALSO READ: ‘IEC is non-political’ – Ramaphosa defends commission over Zuma legal battle

While the nation waits for the full judgment, the ConCourt has indicated its readiness to hear the matter.

In a notice handed to Zuma and the MK Party on Tuesday, the court notified them that “respondents who are opposing the [appeal] application must file answering affidavits on or before Thursday, 25 April 2024”.

ConCourt now ‘conflicted’ and in ‘precarious position’

Zuma’s legal team has yet to indicate it has acknowledged the notice. MK Party said it was seeking legal advice over the ConCourt’s directive. It also accused the IEC of “playing politics”.

“We have always been concerned about the conduct of the IEC. From where we are sitting, they should not have lodged a motion to appeal in the first place. The objection was never theirs,” MK spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela told eNCA.

Watch Ndlela’s explanation below:

He claimed the appeal had put the ConCourt in a “very precarious” and “conflicted” position because of Chief Justice Raymond Zondo‘s previous run-ins with Zuma.

He warned it could become a “constitutional crisis”.

Zuma slams IEC

Shortly after the Electoral Court’s decision, Zuma suggested the IEC overreached its mandate.

“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 continued.

IEC wants clarity on Electoral Court’s Zuma decision

The IEC rubbished claims it was involving itself in politics. It said the appeal was an attempt to resolve the matter “before the date of the elections”.

“We have noted that the orders were issued without reasoned judgment. In order to understand the basis of the conclusions reached in both matters, it is important that reasons are provided. We will accordingly request the Electoral Court to hand down reasons for the orders made,” said the IEC on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: ‘Leader or the heir?’- Mbalula ‘throws shade at Zuma and MK’ after election court victory

“Naturally the commission is taking legal advice on the matters and will chart a way forward based on such advice as well as reasoned judgements that it may receive, hopefully, in the not-too-distant future.”