Elections ’24: ConCourt upholds decision blocking Zuma candidacy

Elections ’24: ConCourt upholds decision blocking Zuma candidacy

The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of the Independent Electoral Commission’s challenge to Jacob Zuma’s eligibility to contest the elections. 

Former South African president Jacob Zuma IN MK PARTY REGALIA
Photo by Ihsaan HAFFEJEE / AFP

On Monday, the apex court dismissed the Electoral Court’s earlier decision, clearing the former president’s candidacy for the upcoming national elections.


Following his 2021 contempt conviction and sentence, the court found Zuma may not be elected to the National Assembly until five years have passed since the completion of his sentence.


At the centre of the challenge is the interpretation of section 47 (1)(e) of the Constitution, which disqualifies anyone sentenced to 12 months in prison, without the option of paying a fine, from being a member of the National Assembly. 


In July 2021, the apex court convicted Zuma of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months’ imprisonment after he ignored a court order directing him to appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture.  


The Electoral Court had ruled that section 47 of the Constitution did not apply to Zuma, as his 12-month term came without the option of an appeal.


Monday’s judgment was delivered by Justice Leona Theron: “It’s declared that Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment for purposes of section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution, and is accordingly not eligible to be a member and does not qualify to stand for election to the National Assembly until five years have elapsed since the completion of his sentence. 


“The order of the Electoral Court is set aside and replaced with the following: ‘the appeal is dismissed’.”


No order was made with regard to cost. 




In July 2021, Zuma was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment by the apex court after he ignored a court order directing him to appear before the commission of inquiry into state capture. 


After serving two months of his sentence, he was released on medical parole. The decision was later rescinded by the Supreme Court of Appeal, which found that the former president’s release was unlawful and unconstitutional. 


Hours after reporting back to the Estcourt prison in KwaZulu-Natal, where he was to serve his sentence, Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa had approved the special remission of sentence for non-violent offenders. This saw Zuma again released from incarceration. 




The uMkhonto weSizwe Party reacted to the judgment by saying it was undeterred. 


After suffering a blow in the highest court in the land, the party’s secretary general, Sihle Ngubane, said the executive would meet on Monday afternoon to seek direction from its leader. 


“We’ll go have a meeting as the executive and President Zuma will lead us from here onwards. He is still the leader of the party, he’s in charge of MK party. 


“The people of South Africa must relax. Every (sic) direction that Jacob Zuma gives us, we will follow him. He leads this party. He commands this party. He will be on the ballot,” Ngubane protested. 


He added that the apex court’s decision would not affect its campaign, with less than two weeks left before elections. 


“Our campaign will be strengthened in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Mpumalanga. This week, we are on the ground campaigning for Jacob Zuma’s MK Party to get the two-thirds majority.” 


While her father was absent, Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile, was in court. 

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