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Tuesday, 02 April 2024 20:35

Zuma challenges his removal from the Parliamentary list in court.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Former president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday filed an appeal against a decision by Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) barring him from running in the upcoming elections.

The electoral commission last week excluded Zuma, who is campaigning for a new opposition party, Umkhonto weSizwe party (MKP) over a 2021 contempt of court conviction.

But in court papers, lawyers for Zuma and the party argued that the sentence did not disqualify him for it followed civil rather than criminal proceedings.

The electoral commission "had no valid reasons to violate the political rights of Zuma," the papers said.

"(Zuma) was not an accused, he was not charged of an offence by a criminal court, he was not involved in any criminal trial proceedings".

Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in jail in June 2021 after refusing to testify to a panel probing financial corruption and cronyism under his presidency.

He was freed on medical parole just two months into his term.

They also argue that the IEC lacks jurisdiction to decide on who can be on the list of candidates to contest for seats in parliament.

The IEC has gone beyond its mandate by removing from the list of their candidates.

The commission said if a person has been convicted and served more than a year in prison without an option of fine they would not be allowed to stand.

"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 complete," said the IEC last week.

South Africa is to hold general elections on May 29 in what is expected to be the most competitive vote since the advent of democracy in 1994.

Zuma has been campaigning for the MK party since he announced his decision to support it in December last year.

The MK party is involved in another case with the African National Congress (ANC) over the trademark. The matter was heard in the High Court in Durban last week where judgment was reserved.

The electoral court in Bloemfontein is expected to decide on Zuma's exclusion from the race next week.