Zuma and his supporters must accept rule of law – SACP

Party welcomes definite clarity regarding whether former President Zuma is eligible to stand as candidat

CC judgment on whether Zuma or other convicted law breakers in the same category can stand for election definitive

20 May 2024

The South African Communist Party (SACP) welcomes the definitive clarity that the Constitutional Court (CC) has given, not only regarding whether former President Jacob Zuma but also other convicted law breakers who fall into the same category are eligible to stand as candidates for election. On Monday, 20 May 2024, the Constitutional Court overturned a court order by the Electoral Court on this matter. The Constitutional Court agreed with the IEC that, at this stage, Zuma is not eligible to stand as a candidate for election.

Zuma and his supporters must accept the rule of democratic law. According to South Africa’s democratically adopted constitution, any person “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”, is not eligible to stand as a candidate for election. This exclusion applies “until an appeal against the conviction or sentence has been determined, or until the time for an appeal has expired”. The constitution does not end there. It concludes by stating that the exclusion applies until “five years after the sentence has been completed”.

In delivering its order on 9 April 2024, the Electoral Court did not give any reason why it held that Zuma was eligible to stand as a candidate, as opposed to the IEC’s understanding and implementation of the constitution. The Electoral Court said it would give its reasons later. On 10 April 2024, the SACP General Secretary Solly Mapaila called on the Electoral Court to provide its rationale promptly to allow for public scrutiny and the IEC to appeal if there is ground to do so.

Mapaila was delivering the SACP’s message during the 31st annual Chris Hani Commemoration in Ekurhuleni. The call by the SACP was underpinned by the Party’s conclusion that the Electoral Court had probably erred. Indeed, when the Electoral Court provided the rationale for its order on 26 April 2024, two weeks after issuing its now-overturned order, it essentially argued that Zuma’s case and sentence did not fit the criteria for disqualification as stipulated in the constitution.

Issued by Alex Mohubetswane Mashilo, National Spokesperson, SACP, 20 May 2024