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MK founder asks IEC to ‘urgently remove’ Jacob Zuma from the party’s list of candidates

MK founder asks IEC to ‘urgently remove’ Jacob Zuma from the party’s list of candidates
Jabulani Khumalo, Jacob Zuma and Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla announce the formation of the uMkhonto Wesizwe party in Soweto on 16 December 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

The expelled uMkhonto Wesizwe party founder has also placed Jacob Zuma on ‘precautionary suspension’, pending disciplinary proceedings being brought against him in line with the party’s constitution.

The founder of the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party, Jabulani Khumalo, has asked the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to remove former president Jacob Zuma as the face of the party and from its list of parliamentary candidates. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024 – All your questions answered

In a letter dated 5 May, Khumalo requested that the IEC urgently remove Zuma’s name as the “face” of the MK party, and that he also be “immediately removed” as the president of the party. 

“He [Zuma] occupies both positions through fraudulent and illegal manoeuvres,” Khumalo wrote. 

He has also written to Zuma, in a letter also dated 5 May, telling him he has been placed on “precautionary suspension” for allegedly committing “several acts of misconduct in relation to the activities” of the MK party. 

“These have brought the party into disrepute, and caused confusion within the broader public and the membership of the MKP. Specifically, you have purported to suspend me as the president of the party without following the procedures prescribed by the constitution of the party,” Khumalo wrote. 

He added that Zuma had been placed on precautionary suspension, pending disciplinary proceedings being brought against him in line with the constitution of the MK party. 

Khumalo, who registered the MK party with the IEC in September 2023, was expelled from the party on 26 April, along with four other party leaders. The purge exposed the instability in the fledgling party, at a time when polls showed its support was growing – with Ipsos predicting MK could receive 8.4% of the vote on 29 May. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

In a statement announcing the leaders’ expulsion, MK said that a National Leadership Core meeting had revealed that the party had been infiltrated by external forces who sought to “destabilise” it.

The party kept mum on the reasons for the purge, but claimed it was in the interest of “patriotic South Africans that want to see change”.  

MK ZumaFormer president Jacob Zuma, flanked by Jabulani Khumalo, speaks about his political future at a press conference in Orlando East, Soweto, on 16 December 2023. (Photo: Reuters /Shiraaz Mohamed)

In a statement issued just before 1pm on Tuesday, the IEC confirmed receipt of Khumalo’s letter. However, it said Zuma was the registered leader of the MK party since 10 April.

“The commission reiterates its stance that it does not involve itself in internal affairs of political parties. Additionally, the commission only acts on instruction of the registered leader of the party. In the present case, Mr Jacob Zuma is the registered leader of MK Party. This has been so since 10 April 2024,” it said.

Following the leaders’ expulsion, the Sunday Times reported on allegations that Khumalo had held secret meetings with the ANC behind Zuma’s back, and that he had been raising funds for the party, but those funds never reached its coffers.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Expulsions from MK party point to deep instability and mistrust

Khumalo was second on the party’s candidate list for the National Assembly, behind Zuma who was first on the list. 

The move by Khumalo comes days before the Constitutional Court is set to hear, on 10 May 2024, an appeal by the IEC against the Electoral Court’s decision to allow Zuma to stand as a candidate for the MK party. The IEC had initially barred Zuma from appearing on the ballot – considering he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court for refusing to appear before the State Capture Commission in 2021 – but the Electoral Court reversed this, ruling he could stand for office.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The unstoppable impunities of being Jacob Zuma — with a lot of help from the ANC

On 3 May, Zuma submitted notice that he intends to file a counter-application to the IEC case, requesting the recusal of six Constitutional Court judges who were involved in his contempt of court case. 

The IEC has, in court papers filed on Monday, stated there is “substantial risk of a disputed electoral outcome” in the elections if Zuma is allowed to stand, News24 reported.  

‘Zuma brought MK into disrepute’

In his letter to the IEC, Khumalo said he was responsible for the registration of the MK party, while Zuma merely proposed the party’s name and helped to raise funds for its registration.  

“At all times, it was always understood that Mr Zuma is not a member of MKP, but would assist it in the campaign. In fact, when he announced his decision to vote and campaign for MKP on 16 December 2023, he made it clear he would remain a member of the ANC,” Khumalo said. 

He said Zuma is not a member of the MK party’s executive committee. 

On 23 April, Khumalo said he was called to a meeting with individuals who were not on the party’s national executive committee but were active in the MK party. According to Khumalo, at the meeting, Zuma announced that Khumalo had been removed as president of the party, and that he would henceforth be the president. 

“During that meeting a fraudulent letter was prepared for transmission to the Electoral Commission announcing that I would no longer be on the list of candidates and that Mr Zuma would be the face and president of MKP.

“I sent a letter to the Electoral Commission, in which I confirmed that Mr Zuma would be the face of the party. At no stage did I confirm that Mr Zuma would be the president of the party,” Khumalo wrote in the letter. 

According to Khumalo, Zuma’s conduct has brought the party into “disrepute”. Zuma had “acted contrary to the terms of the constitution of the party”, by purporting to remove Khumalo as party leader without following any procedures.

Khumalo also claimed that it had been “widely discussed” within the MK party that after the elections “certain individuals, including an active member and leader of an opposition party” would take over as the party’s president. 

Khumalo’s letter to the IEC comes amid allegations of signature forgery by the MK party, revealed by City Press last week. Police have said they are investigating the claims that the party forged thousands of signatures to register for the elections.  

Daily Maverick contacted Khumalo for comment, but he declined to speak to the media, saying he was not taking any interviews for now. 

Daily Maverick asked MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication. DM

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