Zuma’s past may cost him a seat in Parliament

Former president Jacob Zuma has been barred from contesting elections. File Picture; Doctor Ngcobo / Independent Newspapers

Former president Jacob Zuma has been barred from contesting elections. File Picture; Doctor Ngcobo / Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 31, 2024


Former president Jacob Zuma’s attempt at another shot in the presidency has come crashing down after the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) upheld an objection that he may stand as one of the candidates in the elections.

Zuma’s past has come back to haunt him, with the IEC set to remove him from the ballot.

But his party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) has indicated it would appeal the decision of the IEC.

IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya has said parties who want to appeal have until Tuesday to do so and the final decision will be made on April 9.

But IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo fired the warning shot a few months ago when he said the law was clear that people who have been convicted and given a sentence longer than 12 months are barred from participating in the elections.

The commission repeated this in a statement before the announcement that Zuma was barred from contesting the elections.

It said there were certain categories of people who are disqualified from entering the election race.

One of the reasons that a candidate cannot contest for a seat in Parliament or provincial legislature was a criminal record.

“Anyone who, after this section took effect, is convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine, either in the Republic, or outside the Republic if the conduct constituting the offence would have been an offence in the Republic, but no one may be regarded as having been sentenced until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired. A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed,” said the IEC.

Zuma spent a few months in jail in 2021 after he disobeyed a court order to appear before the Zondo Commission into State Capture.

The Constitutional Court had sentenced him to 15 months in jail for this.

The IEC said an aggrieved party can lodge an objection at the Electoral Court by Tuesday.

“The objector, registered party or nominated candidate may appeal against the decision of the Commission to the Electoral Court by April 2, 2024. The final list of candidates contesting the elections will be published by the commission on April 10, 2024,” said the IEC.

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie, who served time in jail many years ago, with his deputy Kenny Kunene, also explained how this law works.

“You have to be out of jail for five years or more to be eligible for Parliament. (I have) been out of jail for close to 25 years,” said McKenzie.

He also denied there was a conspiracy to remove Zuma from the ballot paper.

“There is no conspiracy against Zuma. The rules existed long before MK party. The IEC didn’t write or amend rules, (they) have always been there. I am sure Zuma is aware of it.”

McKenzie has served as mayor of the Central Karoo District municipality for a year. Kunene is an MMC in the City of Johannesburg.

While McKenzie is Premier candidate for the PA in the Western Cape, Kunene is Premier candidate for the party in Gauteng.

They have been eligible to contest elections because five years has lapsed since they served their sentences.

But the MK party is hoping the Electoral Court may come to a different conclusion. However, Zuma’s chances of having another shot at the presidency are slim.

Zuma is number one on the list of his party. Jabulani Khumalo, who registered the party last year, is number two on the list.

Zuma has been talking about getting two-thirds in the elections, but opinion polls have put the African National Congress (ANC) at below 50%.

But the MK party has been doing well in by-elections.

The test for the party would not lie in the national elections on May 29.

There are currently 14 parties represented in Parliament. The outcome of the elections may determine a new chapter in Parliament.

Political analysts have predicted that there could be no outright winner, which may force a coalition government at national level for the first time since 1994. Only time will tell.

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