Statement by ACDP MP, Steve Swart

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP welcomes clarity of ConCourt ruling that Zuma cannot stand for Parliament

May 20, 2024

The ACDP welcomes the legal clarity provided by today’s constitutional court ruling that former president Jacob Zuma’s criminal record barred him from standing as a candidate for parliament in the 29 May elections.

The apex court overturned a ruling by the electoral court in April which upheld the MK party’s appeal to the IEC’s decision that Zuma was not qualified to stand for parliament. It was scathing of the electoral court’s ruling, which it said would mean that someone convicted and sentenced by the constitutional court, sitting as the court of first and final instance, would be “permanently immunised” from the application of section 47(1)(e).

The court found that, “Section 47(1)(e) draws no distinction between convictions for civil contempt and other convictions, therefore the ordinary meaning should be given to the word — that it is a criminal offence.”

It also found that, “The purpose of the disqualification is aimed at maintaining the integrity of South Africa’s democratic regime, which is founded on the rule of law, by ensuring that members of the National Assembly possess the requisite respect for the rule of law.”

It concluded that, “…Mr Zuma was convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 month’s imprisonment for the purposes of section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution and is accordingly not eligible to be a member of and not qualified to stand for election to the National Assembly until five years has lapsed till the completion of his sentence.”

The ACDP agrees with this judgement and the legal clarity it provides. Given the high levels of state capture and corruption in our country, as highlighted inter alia by Judge Zondo in the Zondo Commission Report, it is crucial that elected representatives are honest men and women who are above reproach and “possess the requisite respect for the rule of law.”

If one has regard to Zuma’s conviction and sentencing for contempt of court by the constitutional court, he is clearly lacking in “the requisite respect for the rule of law”. His nomination as a candidate for the forthcoming elections was correctly rejected by the IEC based on the disqualification set out in section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution.

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