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The African National Congress (ANC) and the MK party are poised for a legal showdown over the iconic spear emblem


After suffering a significant setback in the Electoral Court on Tuesday, the African National Congress (ANC) is gearing up for another legal confrontation, this time with the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party in the Durban High Court, concerning the use of the uMkhonto weSizwe name and logo.

The ANC asserts in its court documents that it has been utilizing the uMkhonto weSizwe trademark for several decades. Following the deregistration case loss against the MK party, the ANC issued a statement affirming the significance of the MK logo and name as part of its heritage and intellectual property. They vehemently oppose what they perceive as attempts by “counter-revolutionaries” to exploit the movement for personal gain.

In December of the previous year, the ANC formally requested Jabulani Sibongiseni Khumalo, the founder of the MK party, to cease using the logo and trademark. The ANC argues that such usage could mislead South Africans into believing there is a direct association between the ruling party and the MK party.

However, Khumalo rebuts these claims, contending that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. He points out that the ANC has no registered rights in the disputed trademark, thereby lacking the grounds to initiate infringement proceedings. Khumalo emphasizes that if uMkhonto weSizwe had not been disbanded in 1993, it would have independently pursued legal action instead of relying on an indirect relationship with the ANC. He highlights differences between the MK party’s logo and the alleged registered trademark, particularly in the depiction of the warrior and the surrounding shading, symbolizing a shift in posture post-1994.

Originally formed as the militant wing of the ANC during the apartheid era, MK was disbanded by the governing party in 1993. Subsequently, the ANC established the MK Military Veterans’ Association, which was disbanded in 2021.

The ANC’s attempt to have the MK party deregistered before the upcoming national and provincial elections faced a resounding defeat on Tuesday. Judge Lebogang Modiba of the Electoral Court, sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, delivered a unanimous judgment, ruling that the ANC’s complaints lacked merit, urgency, and the court’s jurisdiction. Modiba criticized the ANC for failing to promptly institute legal action following the MK party’s registration and dismissed their application without costs.

As the legal battle unfolds, both parties remain entrenched in their positions, underscoring the complex interplay between political legacies and legal rights.