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Jacob Zuma is ineligible for Parliament seat

The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party says it’s not worried about the possible objection of its leader, former president Jacob Zuma, from featuring on its candidate list for Parliament.

However, according to an independent political analyst, Melanie Verwoerd, the party and its supporters have every reason to worry because the South African Constitution is clear on Zuma’s fate.

‘RISK OF VIOLENCE SHOULD ZUMA BE REJECTED’

“As far as I know, you can’t go to Parliament once you have had a sentence of longer than 12 months without an option of a fine,” said Verwoerd on Monday, 11 March.

She said that violence could be a possibility based on recent comments made by KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MK party member, Visvin Reddy, who said there would be anarchy if the MK party is blocked from contesting the 2024 general elections.

“Hear me very carefully. This country will be turned into civil war that day MK is not allowed to campaign and to be on the ballot paper. No one will vote, and no one in this country will vote,” said Reddy last week.

Reddy later apologised on Newzroom Afrika, telling anchor Stephen Grootes: “If I was miscontrued in any way, I want to apologise. I certainly will not incite any form of violence. I do not believe that our country can afford to have tensions of this nature, especially in the run-up to elections.”

Verwoerd, meanwhile, has expressed curiosity over how MK Party supporters could react to the Zuma’s predicament.

“It will be very interesting to see how the voters and MK supporters react when they realise he can’t go to Parliament. Will they still support the party because it seems at the moment the party is very much linked to him,” she said.

“Of course, there’s always a risk of violence, but I think the government will be ready for that,” Vervoed added.

FORMER PRESIDENT SENTENCED TO 15 MONTHS IMPRISONMENT

According to Independent Online, Zuma was handed a 15-month sentence in June 2021 for refusing to testify at the State Capture Inquiry but was released on medical parole after two months, due to a remission of sentence for non-violent offenders approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Sections 47 and 106 of the Constitution states that a citizen is eligible to be a member of the National Assembly or provincial legislature except if they are “convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine”.

Since Zuma was convicted in 2021 and imprisoned at Estcourt Prison, he’ll eligible for the Parliament come the 2029 elections. He will be 87 years old.

Section 47 continues: “A disqualification under this paragraph ends five years after the sentence has been completed.”

MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela said this was about a criminal and not a civil matter, and Zuma’s was not a criminal case.

“He was sentenced but never stood before a judge,” he said.

The South African has sought comment from the Independent Electoral Commission about Zuma’s presence on the MK party’s candidate list. This article will be updated as soon as the IEC has responded.

Additional reporting by Neo Thale

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