Jacob Zuma’s MK party off to ConCourt to try interdict first sitting of parliament

Jacob Zuma, former South African president and leader of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK Party), during a news conference at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) national results operation centre in Midrand, South Africa, on Saturday, June 1, 2024. (Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party said on Monday it had instructed its lawyers to ask the constitutional court for an urgent interdict to prohibit parliament from proceeding with the swearing in of new MPs and the election of the president on Friday.

In a statement, MK said it did so after the secretary to parliament “disregarded our request” not proceed with the swearing in of new MPs in light of the party’s intention to challenge the outcome of the May elections in court.

In a brief statement on Monday, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said that following on the declaration of the election results on 2 June, he had determined “in terms of section 51(1) of the Constitution that the first sitting of the National Assembly shall be on Friday, 14 June 2024 at 10h00”.

The MK party has not set out the basis on which it plans to challenge the outcome of the election, in which it won 14.5% of votes, but said it suspected “possible election fraud and rigging”.

“We argue that the unresolved objections and the veracity of the substance by MK party and other parties who represent the will of the people, render this ‘market-based’ declaration, and consequently the sitting and all of its activities unconstitutional,” the party said,

The MK party’s 58 nominees for the National Assembly will boycott the ceremony scheduled for next Monday, advocate Nqobile Zungu said in a letter of demand sent to parliament last week.

He then argued that this would mean that anything that happens in that sitting will be null and void, including MPs’ election of the president.

“Legally, the absence of MK party members will prevent achieving the composition of the 350 members required to lawfully constitute the National Assembly, further invalidating the session which aims to appoint the president and therefore the government of the country,” MK reiterated in its statement.

Zungu said this was a separate requirement in law “from the quorum required for a properly constituted National Assembly” in chapter 4 of the Constitution.

Should parliament dispute the MK’s interpretation of the Constitution in this regard, Zungu said the party would call upon the courts to resolve the dispute.

In reply to MK’s demand, parliament’s chief financial adviser, Zuraya Adhikarie, said the sitting would proceed as planned.

“I do not agree with your interpretation and am of the view that the secretary to parliament is legally bound to facilitate the first sitting of parliament at a date and time to be determined by the chief justice,” she wrote.

“Accordingly, unless and until the elections results are set aside by a court pursuant to section 49(3) of the Constitution, parliament must ensure that the sittings take place as directed.”

Adhikarie added that since the MK party was not planning on sending its members to the sitting, parliament would cancel their travel and accommodation benefits.

“Given your correspondence, we will instruct the officials to cancel all arrangements in respect of accommodation and flights for your client’s elected members so as not to incur fruitless and wasteful expenditure in contravention of the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2009.”

– The Mail and Guardian


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