Jacob Zuma and MK lead 3-0 in legal battle

South Africa’s battle-scarred former president jacob zuma He has proven he still has a winning streak and recently scored a hat trick on the court.

It is the third time in the last month that the 82-year-old has thwarted an attempt to prevent him from running in the general election at the end of May.

His latest victory came on Monday in the Durban High Court. In the court, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) tried to force his party, Umkhonto Wisizwe (MK), to remove its name and logo.

This is because it was named after the now-disbanded armed wing of the ANC, which fought against white minority rule, ending with the election of anti-apartheid heroes. nelson mandela In 1994.

The ANC claimed that it was in breach of trademark law and that the use of the name, which translates to Spear of the Nation, would confuse voters in the upcoming May vote. The judge disagreed.

Paddy Harper, KwaZulu-Natal correspondent for South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper, said: “This is a huge political and financial victory for MK. If they had lost they would have had to start all over again. “That would have completely paralyzed us economically.” he told the BBC.

“Last weekend they basically put out a manifesto online,” he says of the two-page document with big headlines and little detail.

“This shows they don’t have the money. So starting a campaign with a different logo will set them back significantly.”

African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa (right) dances during an election campaign at Mellowood Community Hall in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa - April 20, 2024

President Cyril Ramaphosa (R) learns some dance moves on Saturday while campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal, a key election battleground. [Getty Images]

The high court’s ruling is a campaign treasure for the MK, allowing activists to loudly proclaim their victory even if the ruling party announces it will appeal the ruling.

But the verdict also shows how dependent MK is on the charismatic appeal of Zuma, a former ANC stalwart who once served in the armed wing.

He has denied the corruption allegations he faces, but this has not affected his immense popularity in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

High Court Justice Mahendra Chetty dismissed the application primarily on the grounds that the ANC had abandoned the case too late and should have gone to the Election Tribunal rather than the High Court.

Mr Harper said MK was registered as a party in September, but the ANC only woke up to the threat when Mr Zuma announced its support in December.

“The ANC failed the urgency test with its application to the High Court. They created the urgency themselves,” he said.

“The judge said this was an election issue, not a trademark issue, and should have been dealt with by the election court.”

This is the ANC’s second defeat against MK.

In late March, the Electoral Tribunal rejected the ANC’s argument that the party did not meet formal registration criteria.

“The ANC’s attempt to use the courts to delegitimize them has completely failed,” Harper said.

The Electoral Tribunal also canceled the Electoral Commission’s injunction against Zuma’s candidacy for Parliament.

The constitution prohibits anyone convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison for more than 12 months from holding public office.

The Electoral Commission had argued that Zuma was ineligible because he was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2021 for failing to testify in a corruption investigation.

The court has not yet given reasons for its decision, but since Mr Zuma had only served three months in prison for health reasons and had been granted a reprieve by the president, this meant that his sentence was “cancelled”. Lawyers argue that this means that the

Mr Zuma has had a checkered history with the courts, and the recent ruling is a boon for him.

The judiciary appears to want to avoid interference and leave it to voters to decide the fate of the former president and his party.

The ruling will also ease political tensions. Zuma’s arrest in 2021 for contempt of court sparked deadly riots, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The law and God are on the side of the MK party. ANC, your days are numbered. You have attacked the MK party for too long,” MK Visvin Reddy said outside court on Monday. Ta.

This prediction may be far-fetched, but the ANC could lose not only the KwaZulu-Natal provincial parliament but also its parliamentary majority (currently 57%) for the first time in 30 years.

But for those disillusioned with the ANC’s performance, there are plenty of parties to choose from this election. Ballots will be long.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters at the stadium in Durban, South Africa - March 2024Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) supporters at the stadium in Durban, South Africa - March 2024

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which split from the ANC in 1975, has traditionally been popular with mainly Zulu voters. [Getty Images]

MK may draw some votes not only from the ANC but also from other parties, especially the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which won 3.38% of the national vote in 2019. be. The party has a large base of young supporters and won 10.8% of the vote in the last election.

South Africans appear to have no choice this time. In addition to the usual national and local votes, voters are expected to cast a third ballot for the first time, which includes independent candidates not affiliated with established political parties.

When the ANC announced its intention to appeal the trademark ruling, Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula criticized the media for focusing too much on Mr Zuma given such a wide range of opposition.

Cape Town-based political analyst Sanusha Naidu also warned that the media frenzy against Zuma could distort polling data.

Some recent opinion polls predict that MK could win 14% nationally, but given the performance of other breakaway ANC parties in past elections, that could be much lower. There is sex.

“The problem with this election is that people are trying to prevent it so that they can predict the outcome, but that’s not going to happen,” she told the BBC.

And for Mr. Zuma, more lawsuits are likely to follow.

The Election Commission filed an emergency appeal with the Constitutional Court, the highest court, to overturn the Electoral Court’s decision.

It was the Constitutional Court that sent the former president to prison in 2021.

Some fear this court ping-pong is a distraction from the larger problems facing South Africa: high unemployment, a cost of living crisis, power shortages and criminal violence.

Nevertheless, the legal drama surrounding MK is captivating voters.

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