JZ ‘called out of retirement to help establish MK Party’

Former president Jacob Zuma at the launch of the Umkhonto weSizwe Party. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela

Former president Jacob Zuma at the launch of the Umkhonto weSizwe Party. Picture: Kamogelo Moichela

Published Feb 5, 2024


Durban — Traditional leaders, church leaders and disgruntled ANC members begged former president Jacob Zuma to come out of retirement to help with the idea of a new party.

That’s how the new political party established to rival the ANC came about, according to Nhlamulo Ndhlela, spokesperson for the MK Party.

“It was an idea of civil society, including traditional leaders and church leaders, who felt that this country was going to the dogs because the ANC was captured and that black people were no longer flourishing.

“People decided to go to President Zuma and said, ‘President Zuma, can you please come out of retirement’.”

Ndhlela said there was concern that the country was sliding back to the apartheid era.

“People said we find ourselves in the same (apartheid) situation, as this ANC is no different from when black people were being controlled by whites and we need to find an alternative,” said Ndhlela.

Zuma introduced the MK Party in December, lashing out at the ANC of his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa. Since then he has been crisscrossing KZN, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, promoting the new party.

Ndhlela said Zuma was no more than a face, chief campaigner and inspiration as he takes instructions from the party’s interim structure.

The party’s interim structure was currently led by its interim commander, Jabulani Khumalo, who registered the party with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The acting secretary-general is Thanduxolo Gorbachev Dyodo, who was an ANC PR councillor in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, and the acting treasurer is Lebogang Moepeng.

Ndhlela said the structure includes Shelly Brown, a member of the MK Military Veterans’ Association who at the funeral of Kebby Maphatsoe in 2021 vehemently criticised the ANC for disbanding the association, and #FeesMustFall activist Bonginkosi Khanyile, who is in charge of the MK Party’s youth affairs.

“At this stage we are engaging with communities, various leaders, stakeholders, traditional leaders and all components of our societies on who they want to be the president, and if people feel that Zuma must be the president of the party, so be it,” said Ndhlela.

He said the party was being funded by its members and not by businesspeople.

“The money in our account is membership-based funds, which are regulated by the IEC Act, which we are able to account for. Other than that, we have set up an account for donations. Of course we want to get money, of course we are engaging with potential funders, but at this stage nothing has come through.”

In a statement this week, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula described Zuma as a counter-revolutionalist and said that the MK Party was recruiting people with “extremist instincts in our body politic and riles up a political base to foment social unrest”.

“His actions reinforce the work of the primarily right-wing opponents of the National Democratic Revolution. In this regard, in assuming this reactionary public posture, former president Zuma is actively asserting himself as the figurehead of counter-revolution in South Africa today,” said Mbalula.

Zuma has been suspended from the ANC over his association with the MK Party.

Sunday Tribune