What does Jacob Zuma and his Umkhonto weSizwe Party stand for?

Former president Jacob Zuma has indicated that he may run for the president again, suggesting he wanted to “come back and fix things” in the country. File picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Former president Jacob Zuma has indicated that he may run for the president again, suggesting he wanted to “come back and fix things” in the country. File picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 7, 2024


The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the courts have declared the registration of the Umkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) lawful, constitutional and above board for the upcoming May 29 elections.

However, the ruling does not extend to former president Jacob Zuma — who previously indicated an intention to run for the presidency — as a candidate.

MKP was registered on September 7, 2023, by Jabulani Khumalo, the IEC confirmed that the letter was shared with the African National Congress secretary-general Fikile Mbalula.

The party was officially launched by Zuma on December 16, 2023, in Soweto, Johannesburg. This was as the ANC and alliance partners were celebrating the 62nd anniversary of the ANC’s military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK).

During the MKP launch, Zuma said he would not vote for the ANC of President Cyril Ramaphosa, stating his vote would go to MKP.

"I cannot and will not campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa. My conscience will not allow me to lie to the people of South Africa and pretend that the ANC of Ramaphosa was the one of [late former ANC leaders Albert] Luthuli, [Oliver] Tambo, and [Nelson] Mandela,” Zuma said.

But why was Zuma barred from the candidate list?

Zuma has been barred from the list of candidates contesting the elections after he was sentenced to jail for 15 months for contempt of court in July 2021.

But he only served two months in jail and was released on medical parole. He was later granted a remission of sentence after the courts found his parole release was unlawful.

In court papers filed to the Electoral Court on Tuesday to appeal Zuma’s disqualification, MKP spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela told IOL that the decision to bar Zuma was unfair and that the IEC was working outside of its mandate because Section 47 focuses on the membership of the National Assembly and not candidates.

"The IEC’s mandate has got to do with the candidacy of the parliamentary list. We feel they are overreaching, which is a problem, and that objection is going to fall flat,” he said.

The Electoral Court has until April 9 to rule on the appeal of the barring of Zuma as a candidate in the elections.

The commission said it will file its papers at the Electoral Court on Thursday.

Who is Zuma?

Zuma is a politician who served as the country’s president from 2009 until he was forced to resign in 2018. He served as the deputy president from 1999 to 2005.

He also served as the deputy president and president of the ANC. In his youth, he was among the people who fought apartheid to the end, which resulted in his being imprisoned in Robben Island.

During his time as president, Zuma faced numerous votes of no confidence and even faced an impeachment vote in Parliament for his alleged involvement in corruption with the Guptas. He survived all of them, shielded by the ANC’s majority.

MK was the armed wing of the ANC until it was disbanded in 1993, but the name was resurrected by Zuma for his political movement, the MKP.

The ANC has objected to Zuma using the name and the matter is subject to numerous legal challenges in the courts.

What MKP and Zuma seek to accomplish

Zuma has indicated he wishes to run for president again, saying he wanted to “come back and fix things” in the country. The MKP wants a two-third victory which would allow it to amend the Constitution to allow Zuma to serve a third term.

in his rally speeches, Zuma claims his removal from office was rushed as he was on the brink of changing people’s lives. He said his comeback was motivated by the behaviour of the current ANC leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

"I was quickly removed before the end of my term as president, I was removed because I wanted to change people’s lives. Their behaviour (ANC) has made me come back to fix things," he said.

He promised that the MK-led government would better govern the country through a democratic system.

MKP says it seeks to unite and provide a better system for the people, this includes tackling poverty, high cost of living, crime, and lawlessness.

The party has also released its 24 page manifesto on its website, which sheds light on how the party seeks to reclaim the land, mineral resources, having an African-centred justice system, economy and spaces. Much of the themes contained in the manifesto document have been repeated by Zuma in his rally speeches ahead of the elections.

Furthermore, South Africans go to the elections on May 29.

Over 27 million South Africans have registered to vote in the upcoming crucial elections.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are seen as the main battlegrounds ahead of the polls as they have the most eligible voters than the other provinces.

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