/ 11 April 2024

Veteran politician believes Zuma will be red-carded after election

Screenshot 2024 04 11 At 17.36.57
Former KZN MEC Valentin Volker (91) weighs in on former President Jacob Zuma standing on the IEC ballot. Photo: Nqubeko Mbhele

Retired politician and former MEC Valentin Volker (91) has weighed in on the debate around the Electoral Court’s ruling allowing former president Jacob Zuma to contest the upcoming May 29 general elections, despite his criminal record.

On Tuesday, the Electoral Court overturned the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to bar Zuma — who in 2021 was handed a 15-month jail term by the Constitutional Court — from contesting as a candidate in the upcoming elections.

Immediately after making its finding, the court issued the order, but is yet to release the full judgment with reasons for the decision.

This has led to significant discussion, as the Constitution provides a seemingly contrary view that individuals who have been given a prison sentence of more than 12 months without the option of paying a fine cannot be sworn in as MPs.

Volker, who in the 60s served as a National Party (NP) MP in the National Assembly, said he was not surprised by the judgment.

“What people should understand is that the requirements for contesting are less stringent compared to those of taking up a seat in Parliament.

“The Constitution makes it clear that a person who has been sentenced to more than twelve months imprisonment without the option of a fine, can’t take up a seat in Parliament.

“So, after the elections, the rules will kick in, and as a result, Zuma is likely to be barred from taking up his seat in Parliament.”

Volker said there was a precedent in the Zuma Electoral Court case matter.

In 1966, an election candidate, Theo Culwick — who served as a cabinet minister in the then British colony of Kenya — was allowed to contest as one of the MP candidates for Durban after having been in the country for slightly over a year.

However, after the elections, the court ruled that Culwick was not eligible to take up a seat as MP given that the law stipulated that a foreign national had to be in the country for more than five years to be allowed to take up a seat in Parliament.

“I was in Parliament in 1966 when Culwick was disqualified. What the Culwick incident tells us — even though it happened more than five decades ago — was that the legal requirements for contesting were different to those which allow an individual to take up a seat in Parliament. The bar for taking up a seat in Parliament is much higher.

“I’m not saying this because I have something against Zuma. In fact, I know Zuma personally. What I’m saying is in the Constitution,” he said.

Volker, who served as a KZN Legislature MPL from 1994 to 2004, has been one of the prominent politicians in the province and nationally. He was also involved in constitutional negotiations at a provincial level.

Volker also served as the national chairperson of the NP’s youth wing. He currently resides in Hayfields, Pietermaritzburg.

This article first appeared in The Witness.