South Africa’s ruling ANC has suspended the country’s former president Jacob Zuma from the party and vowed to launch a legal challenge against a rival group campaigning in his name.
Announcing the decision on Monday, ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula declared: “Zuma, and others whose conduct is in conflict with our values and principles, will find themselves outside the African National Congress.”
The decision, which was widely expected, will be seen as a further sign of disunity in the movement ahead of this year’s general election, in which the long-dominant ANC is expected to lose ground.
Zuma was the fourth president of democratic South Africa from 2009 to 2018 but was forced from office under the cloud of corruption allegations and he has become estranged from the party he once led.
In December, he declared that he would be campaigning for a new party, uMkhonto We Sizwe (MK) or Spear of the Nation, named after the ANC’s former armed wing during the anti-apartheid struggle.
Mbalula said that in addition to suspending Zuma, the ANC could complain to the electoral court to get the new party deregistered and mount a trademark challenge to recapture the name.
“The formation of MK party is not an accident,” Mbalula declared after a meeting to the party’s National Executive Committee, attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“It is a deliberate attempt to use the proud history of the armed struggle against the apartheid regime to lend credibility to what is a blatantly counter-revolutionary agenda.”