/ 7 May 2024

MK party founder suspends Jacob Zuma, asks IEC to remove him from its list

Anc Vs Mk Party Name And Logo Case Returns To Durban High Court
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party founder Jabulani Khumalo has placed Jacob Zuma on precautionary suspension and wants the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to remove the former president from its parliamentary list.

The move by Khumalo comes despite his expulsion from the party by Zuma late last month for “ill-discipline” — and takes place days before the constitutional court will hear an appeal by the IEC against an electoral court ruling allowing Zuma to be on the ballot.

The latest drama involving the newest breakaway party from the ANC kicked off on Sunday, when Khumalo — referring to himself as party president — wrote to Zuma and told him that he was being placed on suspension.

In the letter, Khumalo said Zuma had committed “several acts of misconduct in relation to the activities of the MKP”.

“These have brought the party into disrepute and caused confusion within the broader public and membership of the MKP,” Khumalo said. “Specifically, you have purported to suspend me as the president of the party without following the procedures prescribed by the constitution of the party.”

Khumalo said Zuma’s precautionary suspension would be followed by disciplinary proceedings being brought against him by the party.

The IEC released a statement on Tuesday afternoon confirming that it had received the letter by the MK party founder. It however said that it does not involve itself in political party affairs. 

“Addditionally the commission only acts on instruction of the registered leader of the party. In the present case, Mr Jacob Zuma is the registered leader of the MK party,” the commission said.

Khumalo and several other MK party members were expelled at the end of April, with party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela accusing him of using its funds to buy expensive new vehicles.

Ndhlela also accused Khumalo of working to undermine the MK party — which has been rocked by allegations of fraud in the process of collecting signatures to have it placed on the ballot — from within on the ANC’s behalf.

The episode is reminiscent of the spat in the ANC during which its then secretary general, Ace Magashule, suspended president Cyril Ramaphosa for suspending him.

Magashule was ultimately expelled from the party.

In his letter to the IEC, Khumalo requested the “immediate removal” of Zuma “as the face of the MKP and president of MKP”.

He accused Zuma of hijacking the party and of fraudulently having him removed from the party’s electoral list.

Khumalo also spilled the beans on how the MK party was formed and what role the former head of state played in this process.

Khumalo said he had registered the party with Zuma’s “political advice and guidance” and that the former president had told him its name should be “aligned with the ANC”, whose brand was “entrenched within the public and the population”.

Zuma had also suggested the date of 16 December — the anniversary of the formation of the ANC’s military wing, uMkhonto weSizwe  — for the announcement of his role in the party, and had helped him raise more than R700 000 to register it.

“In fact, the name uMkhonto weSizwe was proposed by Mr Zuma. I was responsible for the registration of MKP with the electoral commission,” Khumalo said. “At all times it was understood that Mr Zuma is not a member of MKP, but would assist it in the campaign.’

“When he announced his decision to vote and campaign for MKP on 16 December 2023, he made it clear that he would remain a member of the ANC,” Khumalo said.

Khumalo said he had rejected rumours that Zuma “intended to hijack the party” because he believed that his relationship with the former head of state was “solid”.

But, on 23 April he had been called to a meeting with Zuma and members of the MK party who were not on its interim executive.

“Mr Zuma announced that I had been removed as the president of the party and he would henceforth become the president,” Khumalo said.

The meeting had prepared a “fraudulent” letter to the IEC stating that he would no longer be on the list and that Zuma was now the president and public face of the party, he said.

Khumalo said Zuma had brought the party into disrepute and violated its constitution by purporting to remove him without process and should be removed from the MK party list for 29 May.

Khumalo also claimed that the leader of another opposition party was preparing to take over the MK party leadership after elections and that was among reasons that Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile, had “publicly disgraced my name”.

Ndhlela had not responded to calls and messages from the Mail & Guardian at the time of writing.