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ANC Challenges Zuma’s Party Registration Ahead of Elections

In a recent development that could influence the dynamics of the upcoming general elections in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) has lodged an urgent application with the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein. The ruling party seeks to challenge the legitimacy of former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), which was registered by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in September last year. The ANC contends that the registration process was flawed, arguing it could undermine the integrity of the elections slated for May 29.

A Contested Registration

The crux of the dispute traces back to the IEC’s decision to register the MKP after initially rejecting its application in June due to concerns over fraudulent signatures. The ANC argues that the IEC’s Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Masego Sheburi, erred in accepting a supplementary application from the MKP instead of requiring a new submission. This move, according to the ANC, violates the Electoral Act and compromises the fairness of the impending elections.

The ANC’s petition to the Electoral Court is part of a broader legal strategy, with another case pending in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court. This second lawsuit alleges the MKP’s unlawful use of a logo similar to that of the ANC’s defunct armed wing, uMkhonto weSizwe, further complicating the political landscape.

The Urgency of the Matter

Advocate Tshidiso Ramogale, representing the ANC, emphasized the urgent need for the court’s intervention, citing the proximity of the elections. Ramogale refuted claims of delay in filing the application, asserting that the court has the jurisdiction and responsibility to ensure the integrity of free and fair elections. He warned of the potential consequences if the court denies jurisdiction and the matter is resolved after the elections, a scenario he described as “unscrambling the egg,” which could lead to a revision of National Assembly seat allocations.

Arguments for and Against MKP’s Registration

The ANC’s legal team argues that Sheburi’s decision to accept the MKP’s supplementary application was unlawful, as it essentially constituted a review and reversal of his initial rejection, an action not sanctioned by the Electoral Act. This decision, they claim, introduces arbitrary and unregulated discretion into the party registration process.

Conversely, the MKP maintains that the ANC’s application lacks urgency, highlighting the failure to object within the 14-day legal window after the IEC approved its registration. This contention points to procedural dynamics at play, further complicating the legal proceedings.

A Tense Prelude to Elections

As the case continues, the outcome could significantly impact South Africa’s political landscape, particularly concerning the composition of the National Assembly. The ANC’s challenge underscores deep-seated concerns about the electoral process’s fairness and the rule of law. With the elections looming, the court’s decision will be keenly awaited, as it will set a precedent for electoral disputes and party registrations in the country.

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