Gripes rise on elections abuses

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IOL sec zuma INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS President Jacob Zuma at a low-cost housing development in Cornubia, near Durban, on Sunday. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

Durban - Three more opposition parties on Tuesday added their call for an end to the “abuse” of state resources by the ANC amid a call for regulation of private party political funding, for which there is no disclosure requirement.

Cope, the Freedom Front Plus and the IFP in eThekwini on Tuesday criticised the distribution of blankets and food and the “use of a municipal housing project for electioneering” at Cornubia, north of Durban, where President Jacob Zuma opened a R25-billion housing development on Sunday.

Said IFP eThekwini caucus leader Mdu Nkosi: “The ANC members did not have the right to wear their party T-shirts during the opening of the housing programme in Cornubia, because that was a municipal project, not an ANC project.

“If the IFP had done the same, it would have been treated as a big issue”.

The parties’ complaints followed DA leader Helen Zille announcing on Monday that her party would go to court for an interdict if the president and several of his ministers failed to put an immediate end to departments handing out blankets, food parcels and the like.

The DA said it laid complaints with the public protector over these incidents - and 51 Gauteng government billboards in yellow, black and green ANC colours, and over the similarity between yellow ANC T-shirts and that of the Agriculture Department’s Fetsa Tlala (End Hunger), which show Zuma’s face against a yellow, black and green background under the food security programme’s motto.

But it remains unclear who, if anyone, is responsible, for investigating such complaints.

André Fourie, spokesman for the FF+, which complained in November about the Gauteng government billboards blurring the lines between party and state, said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) simply informed it the matter “did not fall within their authority”.

Neither has the IEC res-ponded to a February complaint against the Economic Freedom Fighters for racist and inflammatory language, he added on Tuesday.

It is understood the DA decided on the recourse of letters to the president and ministers, followed by potential court action, after the IEC told it a legal opinion found such matters outside its mandate.

The legal opinion, seen by Independent Newspapers, relates to the FF+ complaint about the Gauteng billboards.

It argues there was no case for the IEC to investigate as the political party framed its complaint “in the language of an abuse by the executive (the Gauteng government) of taxpayers’ funds in relation to an advertising campaign” promoting government successes.

Neither did the party argue the billboards were election material, covered by the electoral code of conduct or the Electoral Act. Instead, the FF+ had inferred the Gauteng government sought to use its position to influence the elections, the legal opinion argued, but this did not amount to an act making it impossible to have a free and fair election, nor did it amount to an electoral dispute.

The ANC dismissed claims it was using state resources, saying it did not tell government departments what to do.

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