Electoral Court Rules Against ANC, Paves Way For MKP To Contest Elections

The court ruled in favor of the MK Party on all legal points raised by the ANC, including jurisdiction and condonation for the delays in disputing the matter months ago.

In a major blow to the ANC, the Electoral Court of South Africa has ruled in favour of the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) Party, paving the way for former president Jacob Zuma’s party to participate in the upcoming national elections on May 29, 2024.

This decision comes after weeks of uncertainty surrounding the party’s future, following attempts by the governing party to challenge the MKP’s registration in the court, which sat in Bloemfontein, Free State.

The ANC’s objections centered on technicalities related to MKP’s registration paperwork. They accused the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the first respondent in the case, of flouting its own rules during the registration process.

However, some political analysts saw this as a strategic move to block a potential threat in the upcoming elections. The MKP has gained significant traction in recent months, particularly among voters disillusioned with the ANC’s service delivery record and alleged ill-treatment of MK’s figurehead, Zuma.

Judge Lebo Modiba, delivering the unanimous verdict, stated that the court found “no compelling reason” to disqualify MK.

She emphasized the importance of upholding the democratic right of all eligible parties to participate in elections, ensuring a more diverse field of candidates for South African voters, and promoting a healthy contest of ideas.

“Although the ANC does not seek an order against MK, it appropriately cited MK in these proceedings. The order the ANC seeks has a substantial bearing on MK’s interests, specifically the right of its founders and members to make political choices in terms of Section 19 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. This right includes the right to form a political party. Registering a political party with the Electoral Commission is an important process for achieving this right.

“Once registered, a political party is an important medium through which the other rights protected in Section 19 are realized. These include the right to participate in the activities of the political party and to campaign for a political party or cause. Political party membership is also a platform through which citizens stand for, and, if elected, hold public office. It is therefore hardly surprising that although the ANC seeks no order against MK, MK is vigorously opposing these proceedings,” said Judge Modiba.

The court ruled in favor of the MK Party on all legal points raised by the ANC, including jurisdiction and condonation for the delays in disputing the matter months ago.

“We disagree with these submissions on behalf of the ANC. We find that, the requirements for the registration of MK, in terms of Section 15 of the Electoral Commission Act read with the regulations and annexures thereto, properly interpreted, were met,” said Judge Modiba.

MK Party Members celebrate the court ruling outside the Johannesburg High Court in Gauteng. Photo: X

The ruling came amid fears that the MKP’s exclusion could lead to mass protects and, potentially, electoral violence.

In reaction to the ruling, the MK Party accused the ANC of launching a frivolous case against them, alleging that it was a response to Zuma’s announcement of support for the MK Party on December 16, 2023.

Nhlamulo Ndlela, MK’s interim national spokesperson, said the party views the court’s decision as a validation of their right to participate in the elections and a rejection of the ANC’s attempts to undermine their campaign.

“The MK Party welcomes the unanimous decision delivered by the Electoral Court dismissing the ANC attempts to remove the MK Party from the ballot paper on 29 May, 2024. The court found against the ANC on all the preliminary legal points raised by the MK Party, including jurisdiction, condonation, and also on the merits. The court further rejected the contrived and nonsensical argument by the ANC that the IEC had no power to assist political parties in complying with registration requirements on an urgent basis.

“Most importantly, the court recognised that the ill-informed application was an attempt to hide the ineptitude of the Secretary-General of the ANC of Ramaphosa, who missed more than three deadlines to object to the registration of the MK Party. This legal victory therefore reinforces our right to partake in the forthcoming elections as a valid and essential political voice of the people, despite the lies that were peddled by the Secretary General of Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC spanning over four months,” Ndlela said.

For its part, the ANC said it accepted the Electoral Court’s verdict.

“The ANC reiterates our support for the rule of law, the integrity of our legal institutions, and the legal principle of equality before the law. We accept the judgement and will fully comply with it. Over the course of this matter, there has been much speculation, misinformation, and baseless theories about the ANC’s position and role,” said ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri.

“To avoid any misunderstanding, and contrary to what many people have claimed, the case brought by the ANC to the Electoral Court is not a case against the MKP. The ANC accepts that all South Africans have rights to certain fundamental freedoms, among which is the right to join or establish a political party of one’s choice. This is a fundamental freedom for which we fought.”



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