May 10, 2024

ConCourt dismisses Zuma's application to recuse six justices

Former President Jacob Jacob Zuma bite the dust again

The Constitutional Court of South Africa has dismissed former President Jacob Zuma's application to have six judges recuse themselves from the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) appeal case. Zuma and uMkhonto weSizwe Party said that the judges who presided over his contempt of court case were biased. Both Zuma and MK Party want Mbuyiseli Russel Madlanga, Justice Steven Majiedt, Justice Nonkosi Mhantla, Justice Leona Theron and Justice Tshiqi to recuse themselves from the case.


Zuma and MK Party filed a notice of counter application and application for leave for conditional cross appeal to the ConCourt last week Friday after the IEC challenged his eligibility to contest in the May 29 elections. Last month, the Electoral Court ruled that Zuma is eligible to contest in the elections after the IEC made a decision that he will not contest as he had a criminal case. Zuma's team was represented by Advocate Dali Mpofu as usual. The court found that the recusal of judges will hinder the matter from being heard as the court would not meet the required quorum. Mpofu told the court that the application is a simple issue of whether a reasonable litigant in the position of the MK Party and Mr Zuma would 'face' reasonable apprehension of bias. "It has nothing to do with whether the justices are biased or the justices will not bring an open mind. They probably will," he said. 


Meanwhile the IEC representative Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi argued that the presentation made by Mpofu has no legs. "The mere fact that they believe it is unjust does not make it unjust in the eyes of the law. It is a subjective assessment that it is unjust because Zuma is on the receiving end of it. Many clients who lose cases before this court believe the court did so unjustly, but the court cannot be directed and dictated upon on their subjective beliefs," he said. Advocate TJ Magano, representing the Black Lawyers Association who have entered the case as friends of the court, argued that the court should find a way to hear the case even if six justices are recused. He argued that acting judges could be appointed for the case, however Justice Mhlantla challenged this view by saying the ConCourt had previously ruled that a recusal does not count as an absence and therefore an acting judge could not be appointed for the case.

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