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SA poll body seeks clarification from Constitutional court on Zuma’s eligibility

South Africa’s electoral commission confirmed Friday (Apr. 12) that it has lodged an urgent and direct appeal to the Constitutional Court after a ruling reinstated Jacob Zuma as a candidate in the May 29th polls.

The Electoral Court on Tuesday (Apr. 9) overturned an earlier decision by the electoral commission.

The bone of contention notably lies on the interpretation of section 47 of the constitution.

What does section 47(e) say?
“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 completed.”

81-year-old Zuma was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison back in 2021.

He spent two months in prison and later benefited from a remission of his sentence, which is intended to combat prison overcrowding.

The Electoral Commission said it believes there is substantial public interest in providing certainty on the proper interpretation and its interplay with the powers of the Commission to adjudicate objections to candidates.

The body emphasized it didn’t intend to involve itself in the political field of play, rather to ensure free and fair general elections.

It wishes “for the matter to be determined before the date of the election.”

Some 27 million South Africans are registered to vote in the next general election.

They vote for a party. Parties are then allocated places in the 400-seat Parliament according to their share of the vote, and lawmakers elect the president.


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