LETTER: Why Zuma is eligible

by | May 14, 2024 | Chapter 9, General | 0 comments

Former president Jacob Zuma’s eligibility to stand for election to the National Assembly turns on the meaning of the notion “sentence” as used in section 47 of the constitution. It does not refer to any old sentence. If that were so, a lot of Travelgate scamsters would have been toast.

The type of sentence the section has in mind is one of at least a year in prison with no option of a fine and no prospect of a successful appeal. The sentence imposed on Zuma is not of the appealable kind because it was imposed by our highest court. No appeal, or even an appellate forum, is available to him.

The bar on eligibility is only triggered when all appeals available — and there are many after conviction in normal criminal courts — have been exhausted. The ineligibility simply does not apply to Zuma because his sentence is not appealable at all. He has therefore rightly been found eligible.

The Electoral Commission’s approach to the Constitutional Court will fail, though it is necessary to finally settle the meaning of the section.

Why anyone would want to support Zuma’s new party is a mystery of the democratic process. His relationships with Vladimir Putin, his rape accuser Kwezi and all three Gupta brothers ought to put voters off supporting him. His role in state capture ought to have him behind bars.

Unfortunately, the National Prosecuting Authority prefers ancient and complex charges in a trial (involving proof of over 700 transactions) that never starts, but can be won given the fate of Schabir Shaik, who was sentenced to 15 years for corrupting Zuma.

It would be far simpler to charge him with corrupt activities around the removal of Mxolisi Nxasana — just one transaction for the same likely sentence.

The only good thing Zuma is doing by contesting the elections is that he is diluting the ANC’s support base.

Paul Hoffman
Accountability Now

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