OPINION | Challenges and opportunities for MK Party

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By Dr Levy Ndou

The constitutional court judgment on the eligibility of former President Jacob Zuma not to stand as a candidate in the 2024 general elections has its own implications

That decision has implications on Zuma himself, on the decisions that the party must take and on the future of the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party itself.

It requires careful navigation by the party so that it should stay relevant and still stay focused on the elections which is the primary responsibility for now.

Any act that has the potential to disrupt the party should be avoided in the interest of keeping the party intact and focussed.

The possible challenges

The removal of Zuma poses some challenges for the MK Party which the party must deal with. The replacement of Zuma should be found quickly by the party.

That should be done to avoid any form of confusion on who is the first candidate of the party. They have interim structures and though the operations of the party are not very clear, the replacement for Zuma cannot be avoided.

Depending on how decisions are taken in the MK Party, some names have been suggested already i.e. former Minister Des Van Rooyen, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla and a few others have been mentioned and they could be considered to replace Jacob Zuma.

In every situation where there are positions involved, competition comes in and that is another challenge that the MK Party must deal with urgently.

Who could be the right person to replace Zuma and how are those people who have the ambition to replace him positioning themselves to take over is crucial at this stage.

The party must deal with making the right choice which will keep the party intact and avoid unnecessary displeasure amongst the leadership and the supporters.

The party leadership should acknowledge that they have a good support base, and the activities of the party should be clearly communicated to the structures and the supporters.

If the party embraces openness and transparency, they should ensure that the discussion about the replacement is done openly and transparently.

It is the responsibility of the party to be fair to its constituency and announce the replacement soon. It has the potential to work for the party since voters would like to know the people that they are voting for.

Opportunities for the MK party

The MK party is a new party in the South African political space. Though formed arguably earlier in 2023, its popularity came after Zuma announced that he would be supporting them on 16 December 2024.

Its support base has been growing since its formation and that is a huge boost for the party. Our history in SA elections is that most parties that are formed towards the elections perform better and they can get reasonable support.

It has happened in the past and the MK party could be the beneficiary of that situation. Looking at the developments since its formation, the MK party can do better in these elections. It would be naïve to ignore the impact that the MK party has made especially looking at the local elections in which they have participated.

Zuma has the potential to rise to the occasion and save the MK party. Now that he is not eligible to stand in the 2024 elections, this would be a test of Zuma’s character. He should demonstrate to the MK party and South Africans that he is not a selfish leader. Zuma can take advantage of this situation to demonstrate that it is not about him, but it is about the MK party.

A lot can still be done by a leader behind the scenes and others can represent the party in government. He could ensure that his replacement is known earlier and that will demonstrate that he is not a selfish person, and he can accept to be led by other people. Anyway, the Constitutional Court has ruled that he is not eligible to stand as a candidate in the 2024 elections.

The MK party should make a decision that will be accepted by all in the party when they choose the replacement of Jacob Zuma. They should make decisions that will make their followers and supporters that they created the party for them because they have their best interest at heart. The party can still work while it is led by other people.

The questions that are in the minds of many South Africans are:
1. Is the MK party created to serve the interests of Jacob Zuma or it is created for its members?
2. Is there a possibility that the replacement for Jacob Zuma is secretly sent to the IEC?
3. Has the MK party decided to do nothing about the Constitutional Court judgment?

That is the critical question that should be answered by former president Jacob Zuma and the leadership of the MK Party. The normal expectation is that any decision about the future of the party should be taken, in the best interest of the party.

Dr Levy Ndou is a Political Analyst.