MKP celebration may be short-lived – court may rule against trademark

Supporters of MKP waiting to hear from the Durban High Court if the ANC has intellectual property rights to the name and logo of their party. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Supporters of MKP waiting to hear from the Durban High Court if the ANC has intellectual property rights to the name and logo of their party. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 1, 2024


Durban — The celebration of uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) members at the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg’s ruling in their favour this week might be short-lived if the Durban High Court rules against the use of the MK trademark, which the ANC says belongs to it.

This is the view of legal analyst Mpumelo Zikalala, commenting after the Durban High Court on Wednesday reserved judgment after day-long arguments by lawyers for both parties.

The governing party is now pinning its hopes on the Durban High Court after it failed to convince the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to force the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to de-register the MKP from contesting the May 29 elections.

Zikalala did not say whether the MKP had the prospect to successfully defend the trademark case but said if the judgment was in favour of the ANC it would impact the earlier ruling.

“It would (affect the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruling) to the extent that the MKP would not be able to use the trademark of another party, as it would prevent them from going to the public with a trademark and the name that does not belong to them,” Zikalala said.

He said even if the MKP had followed the correct processes to register for the elections, the outcome of the Durban court case might mean the party may not appear on the ballot paper using the same name and logo.

“They would have to go to the IEC to make changes and change their campaign posters,” said Zikalala.

Although the logos of the MKP and that of the original uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which was formed on December 16, 1961, by the ANC and SACP, might look similar in the eyes of ordinary people, there is a slight difference. The MKP’s logo shows an image of a man holding a spear across the torso while the MK spear is held above the head.

Zikalala said that when the MKP decided to use the name of the ANC’s disbanded military wing uMkhonto weSizwe, it was clear that this would create noise and be discounted by the ANC, which was fighting to protect its legacy. He said the party used the name as part of former president Jacob Zuma’s attempt to keep him attached to the ANC. Zikalala does not anticipate that if the MKP were to lose the Durban High Court case, its members would turn violent.

“I think they have matured enough because if there was (the prospect of violence) you would have seen signs of that on Wednesday.

“Like, there were both parties in one place, and even their leaders were seen shaking hands and outside the court. There was no fighting. I think the political tolerance has matured and they understand it,” he said.

Addressing his supporters outside the Durban High Court, Zuma, who tops the MKP’s election candidates’ list, said that the ANC had disbanded its military wing only to claim its ownership after it had been registered as a party to contest elections.

“We went to the highest court in Bloemfontein as they claimed that uMkhonto (spear) belongs to them. This is ours. It does not belong to certain people,” he said.

Zuma said that the ANC had attempted to “hit one bird with two stones” by lodging the case in Durban and Bloemfontein.

He sought to assure his supporters that the MKP would win the case.

“If you are challenging us now, you will end up talking nonsense that you don’t understand because you are challenging angels, our ancestors, God’s Son and even God himself because it was God who brought us here,” said Zuma.

Sunday Tribune