uMkhonto weSizwe (political party)

uMkhonto weSizwe (Zulu for 'Spear of the Nation'), abbreviated as MK, and often referred to as the MK Party, is a nominally left-wing populist[3][6] South African political party, founded in December 2023. The party is named after uMkhonto weSizwe (also shortened to MK), the paramilitary wing of the African National Congress (ANC) which was active during the apartheid regime in South Africa. However, the ANC has threatened legal action over the usage of the name,[9] and the formation has been criticised by original MK veterans.[10]

uMkhonto weSizwe
Spear of the Nation
LeaderJacob Zuma[1]
Governing bodyInterim National Committee[2]
Secretary GeneralSihle Ngubane[2]
Deputy Secretary GeneralArthur Zwane[2]
Treasurer GeneralDanisa Zulu[2]
National OrganiserNkosinathi Nhleko[2]
FoundedDecember 2023; 6 months ago (December 2023)[3]
Registered7 September 2023; 9 months ago (7 September 2023)[4][5]
Split fromAfrican National Congress
Political positionLeft-wing[6][7][8]
National Assembly
58 / 400
National Council of Provinces
0 / 90
Pan-African Parliament
0 / 5
(South African seats)
Provincial Legislatures
58 / 487

The party rose to prominence in December 2023, when former president Jacob Zuma announced that, while planning to remain a lifelong member of the ANC, he would not be campaigning for the ANC in the 2024 South African general election, and would instead be voting for MK.[11] He stated that "I cannot and will not" campaign for the ANC of current president Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma's successor, and that to do so would be a "betrayal".[12][13]

On 21 May 2024, a week before the 2024 general election, the Constitutional Court ruled that party leader Jacob Zuma was ineligible to serve in Parliament as his fifteen-month prison sentence for contempt of court disqualified him.[14][15][16] Although his image would remain on ballot papers, alongside his party's logo, Zuma's name would be removed from MK's list of parliamentary candidates.[14]



The party has been described as populist, Zulu nationalist,[17][18] and "anti-foreigner".[3] Voice of America called it a "radical left-wing party",[6][7][8] while Al Jazeera described its policies as socialist.[19] It has supported some socially conservative[20] policies including the repeal of laws legalising same-sex marriage.[21] The party supports controversial, ostensibly reparative policies, such as expropriating white-owned land without compensation.[22]



Since the creation of the party, all opinion polling has shown it holds strong support in the province of KwaZulu-Natal,[23][24] with black and coloured residents being the most favourable of the party.[25] In early 2024 published opinion polls projected that the MK Party would cut significantly into the ANC vote within the province,[26][27][28][29] and attracted a polling percentage up to 35.6%.[23] The party also attracted significant percentages in the immediate north-western province of Mpumalanga.[23] Following the declaration of the election results of the National and Provincial Elections, MK Party secured 14.58% of the national votes. This translates to 58 seats in the National Assembly.

In January 2024, Black First Land First party leader Andile Mngxitama announced that he had joined the party, although he stated that BLF would not cease to exist, and that it was an electoral pact.[30]



The party has experienced infighting, with a number of resignations and dismissals, including party founder Jabulani Khumalo and others on the 2024 election list.[31][32]

In response to his dismissal, Khumalo claimed that he was still president, that Zuma was merely a consultant, and in turn suspended Zuma, asking the IEC to remove the Zuma's name from the candidate lists.[33] The IEC subsequently ruled in favour of Zuma and allowed him to remain on the party's lists, noting his status as the MK Party's registered leader.[34]

Election results


In February 2024, the party contested its first election, finishing third with 19% of the vote in the ward 8 by-election in the Abaqulusi Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, behind the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) on 47% and African National Congress (ANC) on 35%.[35]

Later that month, the party again finished third, winning 28% of the vote in an uPhongolo by-election, behind the IFP on 36% and the ANC on 33%.[36]

On 28 February 2024, the party contested a by-election in Govan Mbeki in Mpumalanga, its first outside KwaZulu-Natal, finishing second on 28% behind the ANC on 51%.[37]

On 14 June 2024, the party would suffer a setback in its native province of KwaZulu-Natal after the provincial legislature elected a rival IFP member, Thami Ntuli, as Premier of KwaZulu-Natal.[38] Ntuli defeated the MK Party's premier candidate, Zulu Nation deputy prime minister Phathisizwe Chiliza, with 41 votes to 39.[39]

National Assembly elections

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Position Result
2024 Jacob Zuma 2,344,309 [Note 1]14.58%
58 / 400
New 3rd Official Opposition
  1. ^ From 2024, seats in the National Assembly are determined by a combination of the national ballot, and the nine regional ballots. Only the national ballot figures are shown here.

Provincial elections

Election[40] Eastern Cape Free State Gauteng Kwazulu-Natal Limpopo Mpumalanga North-West Northern Cape Western Cape
% Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats % Seats
2024 1.44 1/73 1.93 1/30 9.79 8/80 45.35 37/80 0.85 1/64 16.97 9/51 2.06 1/38 0.79 0/30 0.57 0/42


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  2. ^ a b c d e "Party Leaders – MK Party". Retrieved 31 May 2024.
  3. ^ a b c Pilling, David. "South African election turns populist as parties play anti-foreigner card". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 April 2024.
  4. ^ Mahlati, Zintle (19 September 2023). "Trademark war: ANC blindsided as MK registered as political party to contest 2024 poll". News24. Media24.
  5. ^ Mavuso, Sihle (27 September 2023). "Political party called Umkhonto Wesizwe, among others, gazetted by IEC to contest 2024 national elections". Independent Online. Archived from the original on 1 October 2023.
  6. ^ a b c "South Africa's Zuma Fails to Show Up at Rally for His New Party". 21 January 2024. Retrieved 3 April 2024.
  7. ^ a b "Zuma deals new blow to ANC hopes in S. Africa election". France24. 16 December 2023. Archived from the original on 16 December 2023. Zuma said he would vote for the radical new left-wing Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party, named after the ANC's old armed wing, and urged all South Africans to reject the ANC.
  8. ^ a b "South Africa's Zuma Fails to Show Up at Rally for His New Party". Voice of Africa. 21 January 2024. Archived from the original on 3 April 2024. TEMBISA, South Africa – Supporters of South Africa's embattled former president Jacob Zuma's newly-formed radical right-wing party said Sunday they hope he might soon be the country's leader again, even though he failed to show up at their rally.
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  12. ^ Mutsila, Lerato (17 December 2023). "Jacob Zuma ditches ANC in 2024 elections, vows 'total liberation". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 23 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Former South African president Zuma leaves ANC". Retrieved 23 December 2023.
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  15. ^ Chutel, Lynsey (20 May 2024). "South Africa's Highest Court Says Jacob Zuma Can't Serve in Parliament". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 20 May 2024.
  16. ^ Hunter, Qaanitah (21 May 2024). "Why Jacob Zuma being barred from S Africa election won't derail his support". Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera Media Network.
  17. ^ Ndou, Clive (6 February 2024). "Fears MK party could stoke ethnic violence and a party seeking change anew better for black Africans". Mail & Guardian. Archived from the original on 7 February 2024.
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  22. ^ Savage, Rachel (31 May 2024). "South Africa: Zuma's new party upends election as ANC reels from vote collapse". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  23. ^ a b c "ANC majority under threat in Mpumalanga – eNCA survey". 17 March 2024. Archived from the original on 18 March 2024.
  24. ^ "Survey of South African Voter Opinion" (PDF). Brenthurst Foundation. March 2024. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 March 2024.
  25. ^ "Polling The Umkhonto Wesizwe Party In KwaZulu-Natal". Social Research Foundation. February 2024. Archived from the original on 8 April 2024.
  26. ^ Mkentane, Luyolo (13 February 2024). "Zuma's MK could slash ANC support in KwaZulu-Natal, poll shows". Business Day. Arena Holdings. Archived from the original on 16 February 2024.
  27. ^ Buccus, Imraan (10 March 2024). "Watershed moment awaits KwaZulu-Natal where the election battle is new MK vs old ANC". Daily Maverick. Archived from the original on 10 March 2024.
  28. ^ Boonzaaier, Dawie (10 March 2024). "MK Party could rule KZN as it enjoys mounting support in the province, threatening ANC". News24. Media24.
  29. ^ Makhaye, Chris (5 April 2024). "Can Jacob Zuma and his MK party unseat the ANC in South Africa's election?". Al Jazeera English. Al Jazeera Media Network. Archived from the original on 6 April 2024.
  30. ^ Maliti, Soyiso. "Has Schabir Shaik joined Zuma's MK Party? One spokesperson says yes, another says no". News24. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  31. ^ Maliti, Soyiso. "'Same faces who caused problems in the ANC': 'Corrupt' people in strategic MKP posts, says ex-leader". News24. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  32. ^ Capa, Siyamtanda. "MK Party expels 'rogue elements', including party founder Jabulani Khumalo". News24. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  33. ^ Maliti, Soyiso. "'Face' vs founder: MK Party implodes as expelled Khumalo suspends 'consultant' Zuma". News24. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  34. ^ Jeanette, Chabalala. "Zuma remains face of MK Party for elections – IEC". Sowetan Live. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
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  37. ^ Sussman, Wayne (29 February 2024). "MK takes votes from ANC, EFF in encouraging Mpumalanga debut". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 29 February 2024.
  38. ^ Dludla, Nqobile (14 June 2024). "South Africa's KZN province elects IFP member as premier in setback for Zuma". Reuters. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  39. ^ "COALITION NATION: New KZN premier Ntuli to appoint cabinet in four days, promises to fight poverty". News24. 14 June 2024. Retrieved 14 June 2024.
  40. ^ "Results Dashboard". Retrieved 11 May 2019.