Legal counsel argues that IEC has jurisdiction to uphold objections

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Counsel for the Electoral Commission (IEC) has argued that it is within its jurisdiction to uphold objections premised on Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (SC) argued that the Electoral Act gives the IEC such powers.

He is representing the Commission at the Electoral Court in the matter in which the uMkhonto weSizwe Party is challenging former President Jacob Zuma’s disqualification from standing for public office as prescribed in Section 47.

The party previously argued that the IEC does not have the authority to invoke the Section as it fails to observe the separation of powers principle.

“It is true that other people will lose their status as the National Assembly, you may be an unrehabilitated insolvent two years after you assumed your position but then the National Assembly will deal with that. There is no argument here about the exclusive power of the Electoral Commission. The narrow argument, which is the Commission has the power to uphold objections in terms of Section 47 of the constitution. The fact that at a certain stage, a person may lose eligibility, that obviously will be dealt with by the National Assembly but at the electoral stage, the screening is done by the Electoral Commission.”

Meanwhile, legal counsel for the uMkhonto weSizwe Party has argued that the ultimate sentence meted out against Zuma in 2021 is three months due to the remission of sentence granted to the former President.

In September last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa granted Zuma a remission of sentence after a judgment that said he was granted medical parole unlawfully and had to complete the rest of his 15-month sentence as convicted by the Constitutional Court.

Advocate Dali Mpofu argues that because of this, the 12 months that Zuma ought to have completed, was cancelled. Mpofu therefore argued that Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution therefore does not apply to the former President.

Mpofu is representing the party before the Electoral Court in the challenge of Zuma’s disqualification by the IEC.

“The effect of remission has been clearly described. In fact, the synonym for remission is to cancel and it even says to set aside. So, in this case, the ultimate sentence as a result of remission and not as a result of an appeal or a review is three months.”