ANC to appeal MK trademark ruling, says judge dabbled in politics

22 April 2024 - 16:30
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ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Image: Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images

The ANC will appeal the Durban high court’s rejection of its bid to stop former president Jacob Zuma’s new party from using the Umkhonto we Sizwe name and logo.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the judge erred in his ruling and did not address the trademark arguments placed before the court but instead “dabbled in politics”.

“The ANC will appeal the matter to stop and prohibit the unlawful use of the ANC’s trademark, symbols and heritage by Zuma’s party currently referring to itself as the Umkhonto we Sizwe Party [MKP],” said Mbalula.

Earlier, the court ruled the ANC had not made out a case for the relief it sought, its application was not urgent and it should have approached the Electoral Court, not the high court.

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In the application considered by the high court, the party relied on the Trademarks Act to show Zuma's party was misrepresenting itself as being connected or associated with the ANC by using the ANC’s well-known logo and name Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Mbalula said in appealing the judgment the ANC will centre on the question of whether the unauthorised use of one’s intellectual property is consistent with what and how the unauthorised party uses the property.

“We believe the goodwill associated with Umkhonto we Sizwe is that of the ANC. It is this goodwill Zuma’s party is attempting to unduly appropriate unto itself.

“The ANC was and is the heart and soul of Umkhonto we Sizwe. We believe an appeal is warranted.”

Mbalula said they became concerned about judge Mahendra Chetty's line of questioning when the matter was heard in court earlier this month. 

“In our view, the judgment is political, it doesn’t address what we placed before him. It’s unfortunate, we are disappointed by that.

“We are not arguing Umkhonto we Sizwe vs the ANC. We are saying Umkhonto we Sizwe is ours, here is the trademark; he doesn’t refer to that in the judgment. Nothing about that, it’s just politics. It’s littered with politics.”

The ANC will appeal the trademark case to the highest court if needs be, said Mbalula.

As an organisation that values the different facets of democracy, the party is not opposed to Zuma's party’s presence on the ballot, but in bringing the case the ANC is defending its intellectual property and the legacy of the liberation struggle for future generations, he said.

“We have said it over and over again; should Zuma establish a party, name it after anything without appropriating to himself the assets of the ANC. We would have nothing to do with that. We are not against any formation in our country.

“But future generations must know this democracy stands on the shoulders of men and women who joined Umkhonto we Sizwe at the time when being associated with the ANC was virtually a death sentence.”

Zuma’s MK Party is a “disruption” that wants to dictate terms.

“They are hoping we will drop below 50% and they will dictate terms about what must happen in the country. That’s what Zuma is about. This is not a political party, it’s a project, a project to disrupt the ANC and not for any other purpose but Zuma’s interest.”

With regards Zuma’s membership of the ANC, Mbalula said the party has not called a special meeting of its national executive committee to reconsider its decision now that Zuma has registered his own party.

“He has moved many steps since the time we suspended him as an organisation.

“He has formed a party, he is now a leader. When we suspended him he was just a supporter. Now he is the leader, he is in the ballot against the ANC and he campaigns against the ANC.”

PODCAST | Zuma is out for revenge and has nothing to lose


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