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MK party argues ANC failed to oppose its registration before Jacob Zuma joined

MK party argues ANC failed to oppose its registration before Jacob Zuma joined
Former president Jacob Zuma at the electoral court in Mangaung. (Photo: Queenin Masuabi)

Arguing in the Electoral Court on Tuesday, lawyers representing former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe party tore into the ANC’s application to have the party’s registration declared unlawful.

Judges presiding in the Electoral Court, sitting at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, heard arguments about the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party’s registration and whether the party and the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) had flouted processes in recognising the party.

Advocates Dali Mpofu SC and Muzi Sikhakhane SC argued the case on behalf of MK, which was officially registered in September 2023 after the IEC had rejected its registration application the previous month, saying that the signatures it submitted appeared fraudulent.

The ANC did not object to MK’s registration within the 14 days allowed by the IEC.

Mpofu argued that the ANC was abusing the court system and should not be condoned for delaying its application, adding that the late court submission was “self-created” and could have been handled in due course if the governing party had filed its objection timeously.

The ANC said it sought condonation for its late submission to the court, stating that the party was still seeking legal advice before filing an application.

The ANC had been aware that the MK party’s application for registration was rejected on 4 August 2023. It also knew that the party was eventually registered on 17 September, but it filed court papers only in January.

ANC ‘U-turn’

Mpofu argued that the ANC had accepted the registration of MK but made a U-turn once it learnt that former ANC leader Jacob Zuma was backing the party. Zuma announced that he would be supporting the party during a rally in Soweto in December.

Mpofu also argued that because MK’s registration was decided by Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo and not the IEC, the ANC’s argument about the jurisdiction of the court was not applicable.

He claimed that matters taken to the Electoral Court were applicable only to decisions made by the IEC and not the chief electoral officer.

Advocate Tshidiso Ramogale, on behalf of the ANC, denied that the Electoral Court had no jurisdiction to review or inquire into a decision taken by the chief electoral officer to register a political party.

He argued that the Electoral Court’s powers had a wide reach in relation to electoral matters and that it was a specialist court designed to deal with such matters.

Arguments centred on the IEC’s 4 August letter to the MK party from Masego Sheburi, the IEC deputy CEO for electoral operations, which said the party’s registration had been rejected as the required signatures it sent appeared to be fraudulent.

Sheburi said the party could submit a fresh application. Instead, it supplemented its original application.

Mpofu said the phrase “fresh application” in Sheburi’s letter did not necessarily mean that the organisation had to submit a new application.

He said the ANC could not assume that the decision by the MK party to abide by the IEC’s appeal to provide additional documents was incorrect, as it was a third party in the matter.

Sesi Baloyi SC, representing the ANC, emphasised that the IEC had rejected MK’s application for registration for not having the requisite documentation.

In the letter in question, the IEC had written that the party was not “debarred” from “submitting a fresh application complying with all the requirements”.

Baloyi continued to poke holes in the MK party’s interpretation of the letter, highlighting that the word “supplement” was never used and that a “fresh application” would mean submitting an entirely new petition, which the MK party failed to do.

Terry Motau SC, on behalf of the IEC, agreed with Mpofu that the ANC’s delay in opposing MK’s registration was self-created and that the ruling party had failed to make an adequate case for the condonation of its late filing.

Motau said that the ANC’s case for condonation was not in the interests of justice.

Judgment was reserved.

The matter regarding MK’s alleged infringement of the trademark of the ANC’s disbanded paramilitary wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, will be heard next week. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    Looks like Mpofu is finally going to score a win with this one.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    Have you heard of the expression “when elephants fight, the grass gets trampled”?
    This is more of a case “when the skunks and hyenas fight, the whole world laughs”

    What a bunch of losers.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    So rich from the ever odious Mpofu arguing about the abusing the court system!! This from an unscrupulous, immoral, boorish and bullying individual whose specialty is to abuse the court system ad infinitum and defend the indefensible i.e. RET thieves and scumbags.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Who is paying the 2 MK lawyers i wonder?

  • Zolile Mlisana says:

    The only contestations which the nation should be deeply absorbed with should be around how the country could be taken forward, not the question of who or which party should.

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