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South Africa Court Rejects ANC ‘s Bid To Disqualify Zuma’s New Party

South Africa’s opposition Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party, backed by scandal-tainted ex-president Jacob Zuma, will be permitted to run in the May 29 general election, an electoral court ruled on Tuesday.

The Johannesburg court dismissed a lawsuit filed by the ruling African National Congress, which claimed MK’s name and symbol were so close to those of the ANC’s now-defunct military arm that they could deceive or confuse voters.

“We find there is nothing unlawful about the registration of MK by the DCEO (electoral commission) on September 7, 2023,” the court said.

The ANC, which has been in power for three decades, had not properly explained why it had waited until January to ask for MK to be disqualified, according to the court.

“The ANC’s explanation is irrational because it doesn’t come close to justifying its delay in bringing the application late,” said Judge Lebohang Modibale.

The May general election, following which the winner will appoint a president, is expected to be contentious.

The ANC is on the verge of falling below 50% of the vote for the first time since it took power at the end of apartheid.

To remain in office, Nelson Mandela’s former party would have to create a coalition.

The extreme opposition MK shares the same name as the ANC’s military branch, which Mandela led from exile under apartheid.

Former President Zuma, who was driven out of power in 2018 amid corruption charges, is running for MK in an effort to resume his political career and damage his former party, the ANC.

According to the most recent opinion surveys, MK has 13% of the national vote.

It could perform especially well in Zuma’s native province of KwaZulu-Natal. South Africa’s second most populous province has the highest amount of ANC supporters.

MK attempted to register as a political party in June 2023, but the electoral commission rejected the application citing “patterns of discrepancies” in its signatures.

MK revised and resubmitted its application, which was finally registered in September, the court said at Tuesday’s brief session.

Four months later, the ANC challenged the move, claiming that “MK’s registered name and its distinguishing mark and symbol” were so close to those of the ANC that they could “deceive or confuse voters”.

However, the court concluded on Tuesday that the ANC had acted too late, and the reasons it cited for doing so were insufficient.

Written by PH

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