Legal Dispute Emerges Over uMkhonto weSizwe Name, Experts Weigh In

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
2 Min Read
Legal Dispute Emerges Over uMkhonto weSizwe Name, Experts Weigh In

In the latest developments surrounding the uMkhonto weSizwe name, the African National Congress (ANC) has announced its intention to pursue legal action against a newly registered political entity with the same name. Despite not initially trademarking the name, legal experts suggest that the ANC can demonstrate its historical affiliation with uMkhonto weSizwe.

Former ANC president Jacob Zuma has endorsed the newly-formed uMkhonto weSizwe party as part of his strategy to support the organization ahead of the 2024 general elections. The ANC, which housed the armed wing uMkhonto weSizwe for decades, only officially applied for the trademark in September 2023.

Fikile Mbalula, ANC secretary-general, revealed last week that the party has initiated legal proceedings against the organization using the uMkhonto weSizwe name.

Legal expert Manaileng Maphike noted that while the ANC lacks formal legal rights through trademark registration, it can still establish a strong historical connection to the name. Maphike explained that in trademark law, the concept of passing off allows an entity to claim rights if it can demonstrate the use of a name and the associated goodwill over time.

Although the ANC filed a trademark application for the verbal use of uMkhonto weSizwe in September of the current year, the registration process is still pending. The party asserts that its historical association and recognition of the name should provide grounds for legal protection.

As the legal battle unfolds, the ANC aims to safeguard its historical ties to uMkhonto weSizwe, a name synonymous with the party’s struggle against apartheid. The outcome of this legal dispute is anticipated to have implications for the upcoming political landscape, particularly as the 2024 elections draw near.


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