Zuma’s party battles internal strife


New Umkhonto we Sizwe leader Jacob Zuma

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – WITH watershed elections on the horizon, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) is beset by damning allegations it fraudulently secured signatures to register for this month’s general elections.

It has expelled its founder.

If this upheaval is anything to go by, all is not well in the party that ex-president, Jacob Zuma, is using for his comeback.

Only five months after Zuma (82) endorsed MK and weeks after he was confirmed as the leader of the party, there are indications of infighting, which does not bode well for its prospects in the May 29 polls.

Unlike a series of court issues by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to have Zuma’s party disqualified, the purge of leadership in the MK and allegations of fraud are self-inflicted.

Lennox Ntsondo, an expelled senior official of the MK, reported to law enforcers that the party had schemed to forge some of the 15 000 signatures required for parties to register for the elections.

He is self-confessed in the alleged signatures scheme.

It is reported MK party officials stole jobseekers’ personal information from a database without their permission or knowledge.

The information in question includes individuals’ names and addresses which were allegedly submitted to the IEC as MK member signatures.

Gen. Fannie Masemola, Police Commissioner, said investigations were underway.

The probe is ongoing in Cape Town, where the signatures fraud allegedly occurred.

“The investigation will establish if there is a case for prosecutors,” Masemola told the media.

Experts said the allegation was tantamount to identity theft, an offence punishable by fines of up to R10 million (US$541 200) and a jail sentence of up to ten years. In this case, Ntsondo would be liable as an individual but sources close to the probe say he would bargain with the state as a whistleblower.

MK, if found guilty, could be disqualified.

The party has been on a leadership purge lately.

Among those axed from the party are its founder, Jabulani Khumalo, who was its face before Zuma was confirmed its leader.

No less than five prominent individuals have been expelled in recent weeks, another being youth leader Bonginkosi Khanyile.

MK discloses Khumalo had only been asked by Zuma to register the party on his behalf but accuses the former of harbouring presidential ambitions, thus destabilising the party.

“There can never be two bulls in the same kraal, especially if there is only one bull that built that kraal,” Dudu Zuma-Sambudla said.

She is Zuma’s daughter and one of MK’s most prominent members.

MK came to prominence at the end of 2023 after Zuma declared his support, at the expense of the ANC.

Zuma’s declaration has further divided the factionalised ruling ANC party that has ruled South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994.

A Zuma-aligned faction of the ANC accuses incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa of stifling opponents and using state institutions to curtail them.

Zuma’s and MK’s participation in this year’s elections have been subject to court battles.

ANC has lost battles to have the MK disqualified, claiming it holds rights to the names and logos of MK. MK was the party’s military wing before it was disbanded at the end of apartheid.

ANC suspended Zuma in January and this past weekend deferred a disciplinary hearing that was set for Tuesday (this week) at its headquarters in Johannesburg.

IEC has also challenged Zuma’s candidacy on the basis of his “criminal record” after he was sentenced to 15 months for contempt of court in 2021. His imprisonment led to riots that left over 300 people dead.

MK is among the biggest threats to the dominance of the ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation party, at the helm of South Africa since 1994. Some opposition parties have also joined forces ahead of the polls in a bid to unseat the ruling party.

– CAJ News

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