Jacob Zuma’s Party Seeks to Halt South African Parliament Session

Jacob Zuma's Party Seeks to Halt South African Parliament Session
Getty Images Jacob Zuma is the leader of uMkhonto weSizwe - which means Spear of the Nation

Tensions are running high in South Africa’s political landscape due to a daring move by former president Jacob Zuma’s party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which has asked the country’s highest court to cancel this Friday’s scheduled inaugural session of the newly elected national assembly. Members of parliament are scheduled to vote for the president of the country during this session, making it a very important event.

But in an unexpected twist, Mr. Zuma’s party has decided to skip the session, bringing up allegations of anomalies in the general election that happened last month. In spite of these assertions, no solid proof has been offered to support these claims. It should be noted that Mr. Zuma, who was formerly a significant member in the ANC, is now openly opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid for reelection.

After suffering its first loss of legislative majority since apartheid’s fall in 1994, the ANC’s internal dynamics have changed. The African National Congress (ANC) is in uncharted political ground after receiving just 40% of the vote; to establish a coalition administration, it will need to negotiate with other political groupings.

The removal of Mr. Zuma as president in 2018—mainly as a result of corruption allegations—is the root cause of Mr. Ramaphosa’s dissatisfaction with Mr. Zuma. Unexpected outcomes came from Mr. Zuma’s effort to reassert his political relevance by endorsing MK in the most recent election. Even though MK is a political newbie, she managed to secure third place, which severely damaged the ANC’s support base. Even though it was unable to achieve an outright majority, MK had its best performance in Mr. Zuma’s native province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Among the many political groups, MK is the only one calling for Mr. Ramaphosa to step down. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has been vague about whether it will back Mr. Ramaphosa’s reelection or not. The party is currently focused on forming national and provincial governments.

The Constitutional Court has received a legal challenge from MK, which argues that the May general election certification by the Electoral Commission of South Africa was erroneous. In addition, MK claims that the lack of sufficient representation among members makes it unlawful to call Friday’s legislative session. To fix the problem, the party demands that the president call for fresh elections within the next three months.

Parliamentary officials have already rejected MK’s complaints, claiming that their understanding of the constitution is incorrect, thus the effectiveness of this legal tactic is unclear. Regardless of these obstacles, the chief justice has already scheduled the first day of parliament, showing that he is prepared to move forward regardless of the legal challenges.


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