Zuma’s party threatens to block formation of new government in South Africa

MK spokesman claims election was undermined by voting irregularities

Independent Electoral Commission chairman Mosotho Moepya at the official election results announcement ceremony on Sunday. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

An opposition party led by former president Jacob Zuma has threatened to legally block the creation of South Africa’s new government if its claims of vote-rigging in the general election are not investigated satisfactorily by officials.

During an interview on Monday, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party spokesman Nhlamulo Ndhlela claimed that when the election’s computerised vote-counting system crashed on Friday, votes for their movement were allocated to a different party so they would not become the official opposition.

Mr Ndhlela also claimed there was foreign interference in the May 29th national election, and that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had not taken its vote-rigging claims seriously despite the evidence they supplied to it.

“We must explore avenues around how we intervene. One could be to interdict the swearing-in of all spheres of government. Another option is to boycott the first sitting of the National Assembly ... which means it could not elect a president,” he told Newzroom Afrika.


On Sunday, the IEC announced the general election results, with the newly formed MK party winning 14.58 per cent of the vote, making it the third largest party in the country.

The Democratic Alliance came second with 21.81 per cent and the African National Congress (ANC) first with 40.18 per cent. This means the ANC must form a coalition with at least one opposition party to remain in power.

Mr Ndhlela made his threats after the IEC refused to heed a warning from Mr Zuma on Saturday that it must postpone the announcement of the election’s results until their 10 objections are investigated thoroughly.

Before Mr Zuma’s statement, the MK party had said it was seeking a re-run of the elections due to voter fraud. More than a dozen small parties have also objected to aspects of the results. However, the IEC declared the elections free and fair on Sunday.

South Africa’s electoral court also heard an urgent application on Monday against the IEC from the MK party’s founder. Jabulani Khumalo claims the IEC acted outside its legal scope when it recorded Mr Zuma as the president of the new political organisation.

The Irish Times view on the South African election: uncomfortable choices lie ahead for the ANCOpens in new window ]

Expelled from the MK party earlier this year, Mr Khmalo alleges that Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla forged his signature on a document given to the IEC to create the impression he was stepping down and that her father, Mr Zuma, was his replacement.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s political parties have begun engaging in preliminary coalition talks after the ANC failed to win an outright majority in the national poll. The parties have 14 days from the election results’ announcement to form a government.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa