Background of ANC’s Legal Action Against the MK Party

    How did it get to this point: ANC loses its court battle against the MK Party?

    MK Party (uMkhonto weSizwe Party): A political party formed by associates and supporters of former South African President Jacob Zuma. The name and symbolism of the party draw heavily from the legacy of Umkhonto weSizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC during the anti-apartheid struggle.

    ANC’s Objection: The ANC strongly objected to the MK Party’s registration with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), claiming procedural irregularities and that the use of MK’s name and legacy infringed on the ANC’s intellectual property.

    The Case and Electoral Court Ruling

    The ANC brought the case to the Electoral Court. Their key arguments were:

    Procedural Irregularities: The ANC alleged that the IEC’s Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, who registered the MK Party, did not have the authority to do so and that the MK Party should have started a fresh application process rather than supplementing a previously rejected application.

    Intellectual Property: The ANC claimed ownership of the “MK” name and its historical symbolism.

    The Electoral Court ruled against the ANC on both counts:

    Procedure: The Court upheld the IEC’s actions as compliant with the Electoral Act. The law allows for the supplementation of applications, and the ANC was found to have missed deadlines within the process to formally lodge their objections.

    Intellectual Property: The Court found no evidence that the ANC had legally protected the MK name as its intellectual property. Moreover, the Court noted the historical significance of MK beyond just the ANC.

    The words of Judge Leicester Adams were: “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.”

    ANC Loses Its Court Battle – Implications

    Victory for MK Party: The MK Party’s registration stands, and they are free to contest the 2024 South African national elections. The decision is a significant blow to the ANC.

    ANC’s Weakened Position: The outcome reveals potential procedural weaknesses in how the ANC approaches internal disputes and legal challenges. The Court’s findings have damaged their public image in this instance.

    Electoral Landscape: The MK Party’s presence introduces another element of competition in the elections, potentially drawing support away from the ANC.


    The Electoral Court’s decision is a setback for the ANC, highlighting legal vulnerabilities and potential shifts in the 2024 election landscape. The outcome raises questions about the ANC’s ability to assert sole ownership over historical legacies and the evolving choices for South African voters.

    Related: ANC Launches Lawsuits Against uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party.

    Important Considerations

    • Appeal: The ANC theoretically has a right to appeal the Electoral Court’s decision, but the prospects of success seem limited based on the initial ruling.
    • Public Sentiment: The case and its outcome have fuelled debate about legacy, ownership of historical movements, and voter choice in South Africa.