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First blood — ANC fails in bid to deregister Zuma’s MK party before Electoral Court

First blood — ANC fails in bid to deregister Zuma’s MK party before Electoral Court
Supporters during the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party march to Durban City Hall on 1 March 2024 in Durban. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | Former president Jacob Zuma addresses supporters of the MK party at Alexandra Stadium, 7 February 2024, Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie)

Judges presiding in the Electoral Court, sitting at the Supreme Court of Appeal have upheld the Electoral Commission of SA’s decision to register Zuma’s MK party.

The ANC has been dealt a blow after the judgment handed over on Tuesday which set out that the registration of the MK party was lawful.

“The Independent Electoral Commission of SA’s electoral operations deputy CEO (DCEO) in registering MK complied with requirements of section 15 of the Electoral Act read with section 16 (1).

“We therefore find there is nothing unlawful about the registration of the MK by the DCEO [Masego Sheburi] on 7 September 2023. In regards to costs, costs are customarily not awarded in this court and we are not persuaded to depart from this custom,” according to Judge Leicester Adams.

Arguments around the MK party’s registration were centred on the IEC’s 4 August letter to the party from Sheburi, which said the organisation’s registration had been rejected as the required signatures it sent appeared to be fraudulent.

Read more in Daily Maverick: MK doesn’t belong to ANC, says Zuma, vows to win polls and ‘remove the evil ones’ from government

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

However, Judge Adams explained that ANC’s claim that the supplementation of the application was not an accurate interpretation by the MK party “holds no water” adding that there was no need for the applicant to commence the process afresh.

“It is an artificial approach and implies that contrary to the approach for the consideration of the application for registration is implied for the reasons which the CEO may decline to register a political party which are set out in section 61…

“Contrary to the ANC’s submission the absence of reference to section 51 to quote ‘supplement’ in the letter does not detract that on the plain reading of the provision, the words grammar and syntax of the section lends itself to the interpretation that as long as the application in the prescribed manner and form is before the CEO, he should register the party,” he said.

The judge then mentioned that the electoral committee had demonstrated that there were other political parties which also supplemented their registration after rejections. He set out that this favours the IEC and MK party’s case.

ANC failed to justify why its late filing should be condoned

Judge Lebogang Modiba explained that a party seeking condonation must come with a full explanation and that the court considers whether the condonation will be in the interest of justice.

In this instance, she reiterated that the ANC was not granted such relief.

“Therefore in terms of rule 6 read with rule 10, it does not meet the requirements for condonation,” she said.

Modiba stated that the ANC’s explanation for filing their application after the prescribed deadline was “irrational”.

The judge then said the ANC’s decision to appeal the registration of the party because of its name and logo is not an excuse to not have timeously made its objection over the registration of the party.

Read more in Daily Maverick: MK party argues ANC failed to oppose its registration before Jacob Zuma joined

The ANC alleges that it discussed the decision on 24 November first and only was able to direct its legal representation then. The governing party then goes on to blame their delay on the timing of the decision made by the IEC.

“What renders the ANC’s decision even more irrational is that it did appeal the matter with the IEC within the prescribed period which resulted in the IEC 24 November decision. It doesn’t impugn this decision in proceedings, but the decision the DCEO took on 7 September 2023 which it became aware of on the 11th September.

“The ANC also fails to explain why it took more than one month to discuss and decide its next course of action. Failed to state when their offices closed in December 2023, ironically it instructed its attorneys in the peak of the December holiday period on 26th December 2023,” according to Judge Modiba.

Judge Modiba reiterated that the ANC’s reasoning was that they were unaware that the MK party’s initial application was rejected and therefore could not take up the matter, does not hold water.

She set out that there was no obligation on the part of the Electoral Committee to publish the rejection of any political parties.

She further went on to say that it would infringe on the MK party’s rights if they were to grant the ANC’s relief. The judge explained that it would not make sense as it is the ANC which failed to object to the application of the MK party within the allocated time while they had two opportunities to do so.

“In both, it failed to do so. Therefore it only has itself to blame for not being aware of the 4 August 2023 decision until Jan 2024. If the ANC’s relief is granted, it will be too late for them to register as a political party and contest the upcoming elections,” she said.


The courts also found that the Electoral Court lacks jurisdiction to review the Electoral Commission of SA’s decision to register the MK party.

“We therefore find that the electoral court lacks jurisdiction to review the DCEO’s 7 September 2023 decision, it only has jurisdiction to review the electoral commission’s 24 November 2023 decision which the ANC has effectively preempted as it has not reviewed it,” she said.

In its application, 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.

The party’s legal council 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.

The matter regarding MK’s alleged infringement of the trademark of the ANC’s disbanded paramilitary wing, Umkhonto weSizwe, will be heard on Wednesday 27th March. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bill Gild says:

    Boy o’ boy! This is going to be an interesting election, if it is held at all, and if it isn’t shot through by High Court after High Court applications.

    • Grenville Wilson says:

      Quote “May you live in interesting times” is an English expression that is claimed to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. Yes interesting but based on the track record of KZN politics, cursed with political assassinations and violence, methinks more disrupting and violent than interesting. The best case scenario from these interesting times will be that the ANC is derailed to the degree that they are forced into a coalition with a waning DA, in both KZN and Gauteng.

      • T'Plana Hath says:

        FYI It is more than likely apocryphal that “May you live in interesting times’ is a Chinese curse. One does want to be careful when quoting Wikipedia.
        Nevertheless, have a kiff day!

      • Daniel Bower says:

        A Multi-Party Charter government in both Gauteng and KZN is very possible

  • Willem Boshoff says:

    MK contesting elections might be a good thing imho. It seems likely to attract a lot of the ANC RET-faction’s voting base as well as from the EFF. This will weaken both the ANC and EFF’s position and reduce the likelihood that they would be able to form a majority coalition. Assuming hell will freeze over before the ANC and MK enter into a coalition, this may force some interesting scenarios if neither the Multi-Party Charter nor the ANC/EFF/PA -mafia family can get over the 50% mark. Anyone have some insights on how it all may play out?

    • Sive Lande says:

      it is very much clear that white people will never, i mean never allow themselves to imagine black people human enough to be rational. Your labelling of Black Political Parties as “Mafia” is a clear indication of harboring racism masquerading as genuine political criticism.

      • Hidden Name says:

        You mean other than the very long and substantial lists of criminal allegations against (in particular) MK (good old Zuma) and the ANC (too many to choose from) you have to be either a racist fool, blind or illiterate to believe that isn’t the case. And no where in that comment was race mentioned…untill you decided to bring it in…

      • D'Esprit Dan says:

        I think you’ll find that the parties of the MPC are all majority black in their makeup. Except the FF+ if they’re part of it? And frankly, looking at the looting scum of the parties you’re supporting, mafia is a kind and genteel term. They’re beyond criminal reproach and the bulk of their ‘leadership’, in a country that takes accountability seriously, would be behind bars.

      • Geoff Coles says:

        An application of logic is colour blind

      • Con Tester says:

        No, the industrial-scale blind fanatical loyalty to entrenched leaders who have repeatedly shown themselves to be of shady, borderline-psychopathic character is what calls much of SA’s electorate’s rationality into question. You don’t need a racial lens to discern the many red flags that are currently waving in the country, just a rational appraisal of its present status quo against the background of its recent history.

      • Willem Boshoff says:

        I suggest you read the Zondo Commission findings, the AG reports, the Public Protector reports, and some of the fine investigative journalism surrounding VBS etc. The state of Eskom, Transnet, Denel, the Post Office, SAA and most municipalities’ finances (15% clean audit rate; majority DA) speaks not only of incompetence but of systems of patronage where the tax and ratepayers, on pain of criminal charges if not complying, are forced to fund the corruption. The word “mafia” describes this perfectly. If you still think corruption isn’t systemic in the ANC, the EFF and (by implication of their support), the PA, you should please enlighten me on how you come to that conclusion.

      • Middle aged Mike says:

        What racist claptrap.

      • Willem Boshoff says:

        The issue of rationality is definitely not race based. I harbor similar criticisms for Trump’s constituency, Louis Liebenberg’s sorry sect, Putin’s minions and the less I say about Hamas, Iran and Netanyahu’s supporters the better. We’re emotional beings, prone to bias and tribalism, and critical thinking is generally in short supply when it comes to elections. Yes, I consider it wholly irrational to vote ANC, EFF, MK, PA etc. They are dragging this country to the gutters in their designer clothing; relying on false promises and past injustices to garner votes and continue looting without a realistic chance of making life better of long suffering South Africans. People need to be confronted about the consequences of their choices.

        • D'Esprit Dan says:

          Spot on, Willem! Unfortunately, there are too many on here and other social media who can’t finish a post without reference to ‘only in Africa’ or ‘what do you expect in Africa’ that it’s easy to read criticism of the ANC etc ad having a racial bias – and unfortunately, it’s often true.

    • Philip Machanick says:

      Polling shows MK will take most of their votes from EFF and IFP. ANC has probably shed all the support it is going to shed already. Last poll before MK was in the mix showed EFF on 19.6% and IFP on 4.9%; ANC 40.5%. Latest shows MK on 13%, EFF 10%, IFP 2%, ANC 39%. DA is the only other party on an upward trend; we’ll have to see if they are still as good as ever at shooting themselves in the foot.

      The real challenge is for opposition parties to motivate everyone who wants an alternative to vote.

      • Greeff Kotzé says:

        The latest poll you quoted, from the Brenthurst Foundation, was based on a phone survey that included a mere 1506 responses. They stated a margin of error of 3%, but many of us wonder whether any survey that only included people willing to pick up the phone when an unknown number calls them, and then answer a long list of questions (a 15-minute questionnaire, supposedly), can be representative of voters at large. Would you have participated in such a process? I definitely would not have done so during working hours.

        Then there is also the fact that the Foundation is hardly neutral in politics. I have no basis to accuse them of fiddling with the numbers, but prudence suggests comparing polls from a variety of sources before drawing any firm conclusions.

  • ST ST says:

    I get that the ANC delays cost them the case.

    I don’t get why supplementing fraudulent signatures is acceptable second time around. I don’t get who then has the jurisdiction to inquire and help regarding this.

    Sounds like a rejection should also be published so the public is better informed too. Starts with concerns about fraud…or shall I say leaning on a well practiced strategy…not great!

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Yeah, I’m not hapoy at all that a party can submit fraudulent signatures in their application. Surely there should be heavy fines and penalties for this? On the other hand, it’s hilarious that the ANC has been hammered on every point of law because they’ve been too slow and arrogant to do things in good time!

  • Nick Griffon says:

    I am loving watching the ANC squirm. They know they are in real trouble. And just to think…. it is all their own fault. Arrogance, more arrogance and then even more arrogance.

    Every ANC member who voted to protect Zuma in 8 no confidence motions committed an act of treason with every vote.

    Now their jobs are on the line. No more galavanting around the world on taxpayers money.

    They created this monster thinking what??? That he would be loyal?
    CR must feel like such a fool, and so he should. He is one. A big one.
    The ANC will lose majority under his pathetic leadership.
    That will be his legacy. That and the final demise of Eskom and SAA.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Would give you a thumbs up if DM allowed such a thing instead of this torturous process. Not convinced about the demise of SAS though – it’s making quick and easy travel around Africa much more difficult.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    Only the foolish mollycoddle and protect those who are self serving, The treacherous have no loyalty. The ANC is going to be ‘schooled’ the hard way.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Surely the error lies with Mbalula and Ramaphosa, or are they shouting of touch.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Wonder if members of the glorious liberation movement see the irony in them squealing about the sloppy admin and fraud of a competitor.

  • Noel Soyizwaphi says:

    The electoral strength of the ANC is in rural areas of our country and that is where most other political parties have very little appeal. ANC will then apply its master tactics of coalitions to remain in power in most of the metros, where it
    can and in the end of it all, citizens will continue to suffer on the delivery of services. Coalition arrangements are like going into a taxi rank midday and sit and wait for taxi to be full. You then decide that you must get out of the taxi and walk instead. While walking, a taxi comes heading the direction you are going. You obviously jump into this taxi thinking what a great decision you took, but few meters later, the taxi turns back to offload you at the very taxi rank you decided to leave. We are going to experience a lot of such similar arrangements this time around. Political parties will get into a range of arrangements just to achieve a particular goal in each region or province. Coming to the DA, which is being touted as the “best thing that this country need”. I also agree that in the not so near, DA shall govern SA. However, to fast track its ascendance to power, there is a couple of things that it must do. It must deal decisively with the superiority complex displayed by its core followers. It must acknowledge the detrimental effect the apartheid. To capture the majority of voters, it must be seen to be pledging unwavering support with the oppressed people of the world, wherever they may be. USA doesn’t need a Netanyahu.

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