MK Party rocked by resignation as it awaits Zuma judgment

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THE uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) has been rocked by the resignation of its legal adviser, advocate Mashudu Tshivhase, shortly before the May 29 elections.

In a letter to MKP’s acting secretary-general Sihle Ngubane, Tshivhase told the party’s interim national leadership that he wanted to continue practising as an advocate.

” … with due courtesy to the tribunal and/or quasi-judicial body before which I serve, I have decided to resign from my position as a member of the MK Party with immediate effect,” he said.

Tshivhase added: “As a legal practitioner entrusted with the duty of administering the law as a rule for the transactions of mankind and binding them to what is right and honourable, it is imperative that I always remain unbiased and impartial.”

He said he wanted to avoid any potential conflict of interest in his line of duty, hence his resignation from MKP.

Tshivhase’s resignation follows party founder Jabulani Khumalo’s expulsion.

MKP faced off against the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) at the Constitutional Court on Friday over the eligibility of former president Jacob Zuma to be a candidate in this month’s polls.

The IEC appealed the Electoral Court’s ruling handed down last month to allow Zuma to be a candidate despite him having been sentenced to 15 months’ jail for a contempt of court conviction in 2021.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), Corruption Watch and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation made submissions as amici curiae (friends of the court).

MKP argued that the amici curiae were not bringing anything new but merely repeating the IEC’s submissions.

Casac argued that a remission of sentence did not reduce the sentence imposed by a court but simply brought forward the date of release or completion of the sentence, as well as that the requirement that an “available” appeal process must first be exhausted was designed to ensure finality and nothing else.

The MKP maintained that Casac’s over-simplified argument that remission was irrelevant solely on the basis that its “limited effect” – which was to simply bring forward a person’s date of release – was unlike a reprieve and pardon.

MKP said: ”Casac seems to suggest that because the power to grant a remission is not only reserved for the president (unlike pardoning and reprieve) but shared with the correctional and parole board, it does not have a legal effect on the sentence. It is purely a mechanism used to facilitate the execution of sentences and administration of prisons.“

According to the IEC, the question it faced was whether Zuma had been convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months’ jail, which would render him ineligible to stand as a candidate for the National Assembly in terms of the Constitution.

The IEC said it appealed the Electoral Court’s decision in the public interest and in furtherance of its constitutional duty to manage elections.

The commission added that the Electoral Court fundamentally erred by finding that Zuma qualified to stand in the May 29 elections.

Judgment was reserved on Friday.