ANC Files Lawsuit Against New Opposition Party in South Africa

ANC Files Lawsuit Against New Opposition Party in South Africa
ANC supporters carry a mock coffin of former president Jacob Zuma as they gather - Copyright © africanews Jerome Delay/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

ANC Files Lawsuit Against New Opposition Party in South Africa

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has initiated legal action against the independent electoral body and a rival political party led by former president Jacob Zuma, underscoring divisions ahead of what is anticipated to be the country’s most pivotal election in the last 30 years.

The ANC contends that the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (Spear of the Nation) party failed to meet registration criteria in September. The case commenced on Tuesday before the electoral court in Bloemfontein, situated in the heart of the country. If the court rules in favor of the ANC, the uMkhonto weSizwe party, also known as MK and headed by Zuma, could be deregistered, potentially preventing it from participating in the forthcoming national elections scheduled for May 29.

Tensions escalated within the ANC as MK adopted the name of the now-disbanded military wing, originally established by Nelson Mandela. Legal proceedings over copyright infringement are also underway, with the ANC contesting the use of the name uMkhonto weSizwe and a logo resembling that of its former military branch.

Zuma’s endorsement of MK has intensified the longstanding rivalry between the two parties, leading to verbal sparring in recent months. ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula labeled Zuma “the most destructive person” to South Africa’s democratic progress and referred to officials of the new party as his “chihuahuas”.

Zuma, who was ousted from leadership in 2018 amid corruption allegations and is currently on trial, attended Tuesday’s hearing at the Electoral Court, accompanied by Mbalula.

With the ANC facing its toughest electoral challenge in decades, polls suggest that it may lose its majority for the first time, potentially necessitating a coalition government to retain power. MK, projected to gain significant support in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, could emerge as South Africa’s third-largest party following its debut in the national election.

The ANC has refuted claims that the legal action is a response to the political threat posed by MK and Zuma. However, comments from a MK party official in KwaZulu-Natal, Visvin Reddy, have sparked concern among South Africans. Reddy’s remarks about the potential for civil unrest if MK is barred from campaigning and participating in the elections have been met with alarm, especially in light of the violent riots in 2021 following Zuma’s imprisonment for contempt of court.

The unrest, characterized by looting, arson, and fatalities, marked the worst violence witnessed in South Africa since the apartheid era. While the root cause was attributed to socioeconomic grievances, individuals associated with Zuma were implicated in inciting the violence. Reddy later apologized for his remarks, but the specter of violence looms large amid heightened political tensions in the country.


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