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ActionSA takes IEC to court

Oct 12, 2021

By Staff Writer

The Electoral Court has ordered the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to file responding papers by Tuesday, 12 October, in response to a challenge brought to its decision not to print the full name of ActionSA in the acronym spot of the ballot for the 1 November local government poll.

The IEC has argued that ActionSA’s papers lodged contained no acronym and that the process of printing ballot papers has already commenced.

ActionSA has argued that the 8-letter name meant that it complied with the regulation to have an acronym of fewer than eight letters, and that the full party name itself should have thus been printed on the ballot.

The party further expressed its dismay at the court’s slow decision, especially since no date has been set for it to rule.

A study by the IEC in 2020 concluded that the party logo was the primary identifier concerning voting behaviour; however, this may be different in a local government context since the picture will differ dependent on the person contesting the ward.

Speaking to Radio Islam International, Lerato Ngobeni, a spokesperson for ActionSA, expressed her dismay at the decision, calling it unconstitutional and improper.

“There’s nothing that explains it from the IEC interactions [and] communication or anything that says, should you elect not to have an abbreviation, please note that you risk proper representation on the ballot. [there] is nothing in law [and] legislation that mandates the IEC to create a balance of a specific kind that the IEC uses.

“For them to use something optional, then make it mandatory.”

According to her, they weren’t informed about this beforehand, which would have been the “honourable’ thing to do. Further, she also stated that ActionSA had no evidence currently indicated that the process of ballots printing had started, but that even were this the case, the IEC would already need to have planned for contingency.

“The most important thing [is] that we don’t have any evidence. They would have to demonstrate that the same question could be asked by themselves actually to say if the court says please put ActionSA’s name on the ballot, and you’ve already gone to print. They’re going to have to make a change; they’re going to have to do right.”

Fourteen other parties are in a similar position, with Ngobeni arguing that none of them was provided prior communications and that ActionSA thinks that a precedent in this regard will assist democracy.

ActionSA also had problems registering a party, with it being required to change its colours and original acronym for supposedly conflicting with other parties.

The party is less than a year old and is contesting its first poll.

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