The Citizen (KZN)

IEC fell into Zuma trap

Taking case to apex court will have serious ramificati­ons. BODY MUST LEAVE POLITICS TO POLITICIAN­S

- MOKGATLHE Mokgatlhe is a political writer and researcher.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has fallen into Jacob Zuma’s trap of victimhood, which he has mastered over the years as a high-ranking politician.

The IEC may seem well-intended to appeal the Electoral Court’s judgment, as they have a right to exhaust other legal avenues until they are satisfied. However, there’ll be far-reaching political implicatio­ns which we hope will not threaten the stability of our democracy.

Whatever the result it gets in the Constituti­onal Court, it will have serious political and reputation­al ramificati­ons for the IEC.

As a political science student, I learned that even “apolitical” institutio­ns like the IEC or private entities must invest in their political risk analysis to assess the implicatio­ns of their decisions.

To an ordinary person, the IEC is seen as an extension of the ANC because they have boldly entered the dangerous political terrain. They may be well-intended, but their credibilit­y and reputation are being tested in their dealing with Zuma.

The IEC seems to have forgotten how Zuma capitalise­d on his archenemie­s who tried to act against him. He always outsmarted them with a simple strategy of portraying himself as the victim. South Africans are good people with a conscience, hence they will support the one they think is being victimised.

In 2002, when the National Prosecutin­g Authority (NPA) under Bulelani Ngcuka alerted the nation the Scorpions were investigat­ing Zuma and other high-profile individual­s for their role in the R30-billion arms deal corruption, Zuma went on like a wounded lion to fight Ngcuka.

Ngcuka was attacked and even branded an apartheid spy. The Scorpions were later disbanded.

The people were deceived that it was a political witch-hunt.

When Zuma was accused and charged with rape, he was pressurise­d by the ANC to step down before the 2007 ANC Polokwane conference. To his die-hard followers, this was simply another persecutio­n against their saviour, who wrongfully insinuated that Thabo Mbeki had fired him because of the conference where he was elected leader.

Poor black women were used to dismiss another woman’s claim of sexual assault and their numbers were used to intimidate judges that SA would be rendered ungovernab­le should their leader be jailed.

Perhaps this would have happened, as we saw more than 300 people killed in the July 2021 riots to defend one man, Zuma.

The IEC fell for Zuma’s trap and will use it to solicit sympathy from his die-hard followers, who are always willing to sacrifice their lives for him.

There’s only one outcome Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party expect from the apex court – a victory. A loss will be met with verbal attacks or threats against the IEC, which will jeorpadise the credibilit­y of the 29 May elections. A victory will boost MK and Zuma’s appeal as he would have shown his supporters how the ANC is abusing state machinery to fight him.

The public perception is that the IEC is being used by the ANC to further its narrow political ends. It might not necessaril­y be true but that’s what people believe – and that matters.

SA has had free and fair elections since 1994. Claims of vote rigging have not been severe or proven, which has been good for the IEC. The IEC mustn’t enter a political fray as it will give justificat­ion for another July riots.

People are running out of patience with the state due to poor living conditions and growing inequaliti­es. Politician­s are well aware of this and will use it to spark violence in the townships. It’s scary and the IEC should focus on running elections and leave politics to the politician­s.

The IEC should focus on running elections

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