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Winnie gets the all-clear
Tue, 24 Mar 2009 12:03 AM
ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be allowed to represent
the ANC in Parliament, the Independent Electoral Commission said on
"The commission finds that the candidate is not disqualified from
standing as a candidate in the election of 22 April 2009.
"The objection is accordingly dismissed," the IEC said in a
The IEC said the grounds for the objection were that
Madikizela-Mandela was not qualified to stand in the election in terms
of the Electoral Act. Dismissing the objection, it found that there
"being no factual disputes, the matter has to be decided on the
interpretation of the law".
The Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus had lodged formal
objections to Madikizela-Mandela's nomination, citing her criminal
conviction for fraud.
Madikizela-Mandela appeared at number five on the ANC's candidate
list, after Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and before Foreign Affairs
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Freedom Front Plus spokesman Pieter Groenewald said the commission's
decision showed it was "not prepared to make an unpopular decision".
"It is the task of the IEC to see to it that all candidates meet the
legal requirements. In order for it to do this, the IEC has to be able
to interpret the law," he said in a statement.
"To now make the claim that the objection of the FF Plus relies on
an interpretation of the Act, and the IEC can therefore not take a
decision on this issue, is unacceptable."
The party was "seriously considering" taking its objection to the
The IEC said appeals could be lodged with the court by March 26.
DA spokesman James Selfe said his party was waiting for the IEC to
explain its decision. It would then would discuss the matter with its
lawyers before deciding whether to appeal or not.
According to the Constitution a person sentenced to more than 12
months in jail without the option of a fine is not allowed to hold a
seat in Parliament or the provincial legislatures until five years
after the sentence has been completed.
In July 2004, Madikizela-Mandela had an earlier sentence for fraud
and theft reduced on appeal to three-and-a-half years. The sentence was
suspended for five years.
Madikizela-Mandela's sentence would lapse in July this year, which,
according to the DA and FF Plus, disqualified her from running for the
The ANC however argued that the constitutional provision did not
apply in her case because she never actually went to jail.