Durban - The ANC says it has asked the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to reverse its decision to register the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party as clarity has emerged about former ANC members who will likely contest next year’s national general elections.
The uMkhonto we Sizwe party claims it is led by disgruntled members of the ANC and the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA).
The party, the African Congress for Transformation (ACT) – which is led by former ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule – and Carl Niehaus’s African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (Areta), are among a host of political parties that were registered between June 29 and September 18 to contest the elections next year.
A recently released official gazette of the IEC states that the M K party was officially registered on September 7, placing it firmly at loggerheads with the ANC, which says this is a symbol of their party that cannot be hijacked by another party.
Little is known about the MK party, but the name of Jabulani Khumalo appears as its contact person and its offices are in Durban, according to a letter by the IEC confirming registration.
Khumalo has been reported as saying that he and a group of like-minded people had registered the party.
He said the party was formed because of growing dissatisfaction with the ANC’s “political direction and leadership failures” and there was no intention to erode the ANC’s voter base, but it was designed to save the party.
The ANC did not register the name uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) as a trademark with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said the party had made an initial objection and later learnt that the party had been registered despite the ANC’s concerns.
“We lodged an appeal with the IEC and asked them to reverse the decision to ensure the name is not used before the 2024 election and we are waiting for feedback.
“MK is a symbol of the ANC and the name belongs to the party. It forms part of our heritage and we will use all avenues at our disposal (to ensure) that this party reconsiders using the name.”
She said the IEC had acknowledged the party’s appeal against the use of the name being granted and they were waiting for the electoral body’s internal processes to take place.
The party had also asked its legal team to look at all the trademarks associated with the ANC.
Masego Sheburi, the IEC’s head of electoral operations, had said that all requirements had been met by the MK party before registration and there were no objections to the name.
“There are a lot of requirements that an aspirant party must meet before it is registered, it must publish its identifiers in the Government Gazette to register nationally.
“This is the name, logo and abbreviated name of the party. They also have to declare the constitution of the party. Having met the requirements, the party was registered on September 7 by the Chief Electoral Officer.”
Masechaba Motloung, the acting secretary-general of the MKMVA, said they had nothing to do with the new party.
He said the registration of the party using their name was an opportunistic attempt to distort their history and said South Africans should not be confused by the new party.
Magashule had said his ACT party was leftist-leaning and would fight for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged who were struggling to make ends meet due to an “uncaring ANC government led by Ramaphosa and his band of current leaders”.
He said the ANC continued to betray and abuse its mandate, adding that state entities such as SAA and the Post Office had been sold for a song by Ramaphosa’s administration.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the ANC should be concerned that Magashule and Niehaus had set up their own parties.
“They can influence members of the party and they understand the intricacies of its election campaign machinery. They are disgruntled former members of the party and their natural inclination will be to chip away support from the ANC.”