Will the MK Party emulate the EFF?

Members of uMkhonto weSizwe Party in Gauteng marched from Church Square to the Department of Higher Education and Training early this year, as the party gains high-ranking members from the ANC. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

Members of uMkhonto weSizwe Party in Gauteng marched from Church Square to the Department of Higher Education and Training early this year, as the party gains high-ranking members from the ANC. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 17, 2024


WHEN former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema established the EFF following his expulsion from the leading party in 2013, many members of the ANC, especially his allies, jumped ship to join the current third-largest party in the country.

The EFF was founded after Malema's fallout with former president Jacob Zuma, which saw him expelled from the ANC.

Among the former ANC members who left the ANC to join Malema at that time were advocate Dali Mpofu, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Godrich Gardee, veteran Joe Nkuna, Marshall Dlamini, Alfred Motsi, and Floyd Shibamvu.

The party presented itself as a radical, anti-capitalist, and anti-imperialist movement.

The party made an impressive debut in the 2014 elections, winning 6% of the national vote, which gave the EFF 25 seats in Parliament.

The party did extremely well in the 2019 elections, taking almost 11% of the national vote, which increased its number of seats in the National Assembly to 44.

However, will the country likely see history repeating itself with the formation of uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP)? The MK Party registered in September last year, shocked many when Zuma announced in December that he was backing it.

The former president has also emerged as the face of the MK’s campaign for the upcoming elections.

Since Zuma’s announcement, there has been a massive exodus within the ANC, especially of those close to the former president and not happy with the current administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This after the likes of former police minister Nathi Nhleko, former finance minister Des van Rooyen and former MPL Mervyn Dirks, among others, left the party to join the MK party, which is believed to be an ANC splinter organisation.

Mervyn Dirks

The Pietermaritzburg-based ANC member of the provincial legislature (MPL) and the city’s former deputy mayor, became the first prominent governing party member to follow Zuma. This was after Dirks was expelled for aligning himself with MK. His expulsion came after he was spotted wearing MK colours during the party’s rally in Maqongo, Pietermaritzburg, last month.

Nathi Nhleko

Nhleko tendered his resignation from the ANC last week, citing the party’s secretary-general Fikile Mbalula as among his reasons for his decision to leave. This was after Mbalula’s recent remarks about covering up for Zuma with regard to the Nkandla upgrades. Although Nhleko has not indicated whether he will be joining another party, MK has added him to its interim national core.

Des Van Rooyen

He did not give reasons why he was leaving the ruling party. In a letter written to the ANC’s Phaphama branch secretary Lesego Segwe, Van Rooyen said: “With a heavy heart I inform you and my beloved Comrades in Merafong that I have decided to tender my resignation from the ANC (the organisation I served with passion and dedication from an early age) with immediate effect.” It has been reported that Van Rooyen would be joining MK as their treasurer-general.

Cleopatra Hani

Hani, who claimed to be the eldest daughter of the country’s liberation Struggle hero Chris Hani, left the ANC earlier this year to join MK after Zuma endorsed the party.

Provincial and local leaders such as Mpumalanga co-ordinator Andries Gamede and former ANC mayor Vusi Motha, as well as KwaZulu-Natal’s Musa Dlala regional executive committee Smangele Cele and eThekwini Municipality councillor and regional executive Siphiwe Mpungose also jumped to the MK party.

According to a political analyst, this is more symbolic than politically significant.

Political analyst Kim Heller said these recent resignations were in part a symptom of rising discontent about the trajectory that the governing party has embarked upon, which is out of sync with the original mission of the ANC to better the lives of black people, particularly Africans.

Heller added that rising corruption in the party and a lack of cohesion and renewal are also the reasons for ordinary members as well as leaders to pursue and support other political parties.

“But linked to all of this is a real-time expression of the alignment of the two factions of the ANC; the Ramaphosa camp and the RET (Radical Economic Transformation) grouping into two separate and seemingly discordant political homes.

“Whether this is permanent or simply tactical will be tested once the election results are out. To date, none of the leaders are significant enough to bring substantial voting blocks with them and the impact on the ANC is likely to be minimal.

“The move of Zuma is the real game changer and unless top provincial leaders resign, this new wave of resignations is more symbolic than politically significant,” she said.

Professor Sipho Seepe said the resignation of some prominent members to join other parties is also a mark of a lack of confidence in the “ANC of Ramaphosa”. He said these leaders were likely to be followed by their constituencies.

Governing expert and political analyst Sandile Swana said the resignations were foreseeable after ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang resigned. Swana said this was a sign that it was doable.

“We have known for quite a long time that there are two ANCs and they may even be three by now.

“There is the original ANC and two criminal ANCs -- the one of Ramaphosa and the one of Zuma -- who are in the ANC to pursue their own material interests.

“We have known that these people are incompatible and are going to split a vote of the ANC. It is a mistake to think that the leadership of the ANC is not going to be split right down to the branch level, and the voters will be split between the ANC, MK party, EFF, ATM and UDM,” said Swana.

The latest survey, conducted by the Brenthurst Foundation poll in February, found that MK could do better than the EFF in the elections, predicting that the party could get 13% of the national vote, while the red beret support could remain at 10%.

[email protected]