Jacob Zuma Prevents Attempts to Bar Him from 2024 South African Election

Former SA President Zuma wins legal battles to participate in 2024 elections, despite ANC's efforts to bar him. The judiciary's rulings have eased political tensions, but the Constitutional Court will soon decide on his eligibility.

Mazhar Abbas
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Jacob Zuma Prevents Attempts to Bar Him from 2024 South African Election

Jacob Zuma Prevents Attempts to Bar Him from 2024 South African Election

Former South African President Jacob Zuma has successfully prevented attempts to bar him or his new political party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), from participating in the upcoming May 2024 general election. This marks the third time in the last month that the 82-year-old has thwarted such efforts.

The latest victory came in the Durban High Court, where the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party tried to force Zuma's party to drop its name and logo, arguing that it breached trademark law and would lead to voter confusion. However, the judge disagreed with the ANC's claims, dismissing the application and ruling that it was an electoral matter that should have been dealt with by the electoral court.

This is the second loss for the ANC against MK, as the electoral court had previously rejected the ANC's argument that the party had not met the official registration criteria. The electoral court has also overturned the electoral commission's ban on Zuma's candidacy for a parliamentary seat, arguing that his 15-month sentence for contempt of court was effectively canceled when he only served three months.

Why this matters: Zuma's recent legal victories are seen as a boon for him, and the judiciary seems to want to avoid interfering and leave the electorate to decide on the fate of the former president and his party. The ruling will also ease political tensions, as Zuma's arrest in 2021 sparked deadly riots in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Constitutional Court has now given Zuma and the MK party until Thursday to file answering affidavits in an appeal brought by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The IEC contends that it is in the public interest and the interests of justice for there to be finality and clarity on Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution before the election, to avoid the election and its outcome being tainted if the IEC's appeal succeeds.

The MK party, named after the now-disbanded armed wing of the ANC which fought against white-minority rule until 1994, has accused the IEC of "playing politics" and claimed the appeal has put the Constitutional Court in a "very precarious" and "conflicted" position due to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's previous run-ins with Zuma during the state capture inquiry. Zuma has also suggested that the IEC is overreaching its mandate by getting involved in politics.

While the ANC could lose its outright majority in the national parliament and the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, South African voters have a wide range of political parties to choose from in this election, including MK, which may poach votes from other parties. The Constitutional Court has indicated its readiness to hear the matter, with the parties given until Thursday to file their answering affidavits. The court's decision will provide much-needed clarity on the eligibility criteria for candidates ahead of the crucial 2024 general election.

Key Takeaways

  • Jacob Zuma has successfully prevented attempts to bar him/his party from 2024 election.
  • ANC's attempt to force Zuma's party to drop name/logo was dismissed by Durban court.
  • Electoral court overturned ban on Zuma's candidacy, citing his short jail term.
  • Zuma's legal victories seen as a boost, with judiciary avoiding interference.
  • Constitutional Court to hear IEC's appeal on Zuma's eligibility by Thursday.