'Sequestration hurts Malema's chances'

The Constitution states that a sequestrated person may not be a Member of Parliament.

EFF leader Julius Malema. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema's political career hangs in the balance.

This if the South African Revenue Service (Sars) goes ahead with a final sequestration order against him.

If the final order against Malema comes before this year's general election, he is unlikely to take office or a seat in Parliament.

Earlier on Monday, the EFF leader attempted to postpone the application, but the North Gauteng High Court ruled it was an abuse of process and placed him under provisional sequestration.

Malema now has until May to provide reasons why this should not be made a final order.

In terms of the Constitution, an individual who is declared insolvent may not be a member of the National Assembly.

A provisional sequestration order is defined in the Insolvency Act as having the same legal ramifications as that of a permanent order, unless it is set aside by a court or withdrawn by the applicant.

Bowman Gilfillan Insolvency Director Adam Harris says the law around this is fairly vague at this stage.

But he also believes it's clear that Malema will have trouble taking office or a place in Parliament, even if he is elected to do so.

"He's excluded constitutionally in terms of Section 47 of the Constitution, which says if you are an unrehabilitated insolvent, you cannot qualify to be a member of the [National] Assembly."

Rehabilitation would ultimately allow Malema to continue his political career, Harris says.

Malema could achieve this simply by agreeing to pay Sars a satisfactory amount, leading them to withdraw their complaint.

"Assuming that doesn't happen, it moves through to [a] final [order]. Then the rehabilitation process becomes important."

Harris says a provisional sequestration can last up to 10 years, at which point the insolvent will become automatically rehabilitated.

Other quicker ways are also available through the courts.

Asked whether Malema has a good chance of ending his woes before the polls, Harris says his lawyers would have to move extremely fast.