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ANC Fails in Bid to Ban Former President Zuma’s Party from Polls

A South African court on Tuesday refused the ruling party’s request that a rival opposition party be deregistered and barred from running in the 2019 election.

The Electoral Court ruled that the ruling African National Congress party’s objections to how the Independent Electoral Commission handled the uMkhonto weSizwe Party’s registration were without substance, and that it should have addressed the Electoral Commission before bringing a court case.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who led the country from 2009 until 2018, when he was dismissed due to widespread corruption charges, left the ANC in December and now leads the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MK Party.

His popularity, particularly in his native province of KwaZulu-Natal, which is slated to be a key battlefield in this year’s elections, has helped the MK Party emerge as a viable competitor in the next polls.

The party is named after the ANC’s previous military branch, which was disbanded at the end of white minority rule and apartheid-era racial segregation policies. On Wednesday, the ANC will file another court case against Zuma’s party, challenging its right to use the now-defunct organization’s name and trademark.

South Africa’s 29 May elections are expected to be highly contested, with the ANC, once led by anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, under pressure to remain in power after declining support in successive elections as the country faces stagnant economic growth, high levels of poverty among its Black majority, and an unemployment rate of more than 32%.

According to recent polls, the ANC may fall below 50% of the national vote for the first time since 1994, when Mandela became the country’s first democratically elected president.

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