South Africa's ANC fails in bid to ban former leader Zuma's party from polls

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African court on Tuesday dismissed the ruling party's case demanding a rival opposition party be deregistered and banned from participating in the upcoming election.

The Electoral Court said the ruling African National Congress party's objection to how the Independent Electoral Commission handled the uMkhonto weSizwe Party’s registration had no merit, adding it should have addressed the Electoral Commission before filing a court case.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who headed the country from 2009 to 2018 when he was removed amid wide-ranging allegations of corruption, parted ways with the ANC in December and is now leading the uMkhonto weSizwe Party, or MK Party.

His popularity — especially in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal, expected to be a key battleground in this year’s elections — has helped MK Party emerge as a potentially significant contender in the upcoming polls.

The party is named after the former military wing of the ANC, which was disbanded at the end of white minority rule and racial segregation policies of the regime known as apartheid. On Wednesday, the ANC will launch another court bid against Zuma’s party, challenging its right to use the name and trademark of the now-defunct organization.

South Africa's 29 May elections are expected to be highly contested with the ANC, once led by anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, under pressure to remain in power following declining support in successive elections as the country faces stagnant economic growth, high levels of poverty among its Black majority, and an unemployment rate of over 32%

According to recent polls, the ANC may dip below 50% of the national vote for the first since it came into power in 1994 when Mandela became the country's first democratically-elected leader.