SOWETAN | MK victory adds to ANC polls blues

MK Party leader Jacob Zuma.
MK Party leader Jacob Zuma.
Image: Darren Stewart

The ANC suffered yet another blow yesterday when the high court in Durban dismissed its application to interdict the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party from using its symbol on the grounds of infringing its registered trademark.

The ruling is politically significant for the breakaway party which has sought to leverage the history of the military wing of the ANC to advance its electoral fortunes.

The victory means that the MK Party will contest elections with the symbol it has adopted from the ANC, making it the second breakaway party to do so after Cope. In 2008, the high court in Pretoria also dismissed an application by the ANC to stop Cope from using the “Congress of the People” to contest elections.

As with MK Party, the ANC had argued before court that Cope sought to gain instant credibility with voters by using the name associated with an event that gave rise to the Freedom Charter.

The MK Party, which is led by former president Jacob Zuma, has added to the ANC’s headaches ahead of elections next month by seeking to woo the ruling party supporters to vote for it. This the party has done by evoking the historical importance of the armed wing of the ANC, MK, and the Struggle it waged against apartheid.

Opinion polls have already suggested that MK Party is likely to take significant votes away from the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. It is therefore understandable that the ANC sought to do anything in its power to derail its plans, including by removing any association with the ruling party’s Struggle history.

The court, however, not only found that the ANC failed to make a case for the relief it sought but that the ruling party had committed serious blunders in its approach to the matter. Firstly, the ANC knew about MK Party’s registration as far back as August last year but failed to take steps to safeguard its symbol.

This was after the notice to register MK Party was given in a Government Gazette in June 2023. It also failed to appeal the IEC's decision to register MK Party.

Secondly, the court also found that it had not been established that the symbols used by both the ANC and MK Party resemble each other so closely that deception and confusion of voters was likely.  

This is yet another indictment on Luthuli House after its failure to submit its candidates list on time in 2019.

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