Pretoria - The large deposits required by the IEC excluded poor people from exercising their constitutional right to be elected into political office, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.
Dumisa Ntsebeza, for the EFF, said disadvantaged communities would be stripped of this right if the court did not interdict the Independent Electoral Commission from charging “huge amounts” for contesting the polls.
“It is a violation of the rights which are enshrined in the Constitution,” he told the court.
Ntsebeza said the IEC's demand for such large deposits - more than R600 000 to fully contest elections - disenfranchised poor communities, and was similar to apartheid.
Judge Joseph Raulinga said the IEC used the financial deposit requirement to guarantee the “seriousness” of political parties vying for public office.
The EFF's justice spokesman, Dali Mpofu, speaking to reporters outside the court, said there were numerous alternative methods for a party to prove their seriousness.
“The means of testing the seriousness cannot only be financial. Our counsel (Ntsebeza) has emphasised that discriminating against people on the basis of class is not different from what happened under apartheid.
“Our commander-in-chief (Julius Malema) has said we cannot lose this case. If we lose this case in the technical sense (in court), it means we have won in showing that the Constitution is capitalist and favours only the rich,” he said.
The EFF is seeking an interdict against having to pay a deposit to the IEC when submitting lists of candidates for the upcoming elections.
It has taken President Jacob Zuma, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor, and the IEC to court on the matter.
Political parties wishing to contest the elections nationally have to pay a R200,000 deposit, while contesting the provincial elections requires a deposit of R45,000 per province. The total for parties wishing to fully contest the elections, both national and provincial, is R605,000.
Mpofu said it was “unacceptable” that Zuma and Pandor had elected not to be represented in court. The two parties had indicated they would abide by the High Court's decisions.
“The IEC is supposedly an independent body, it should not be tainted. It cannot be the IEC defending legislation in court, as is happening now,” he said.
“Putting the IEC in a position where it must defend legislation... taints its independence.”
EFF leader Julius Malema sat near his legal team during court proceedings on Wednesday. He got a resounding welcome from supporters as he walked into the court premises in central Pretoria.
A crowd of EFF members had braved the rainy weather, singing and dancing at the court entrance. Additional security guards were inside court.
On Tuesday, Malema said his party would not pay the amount required by the IEC.
“We are tired of being dominated by capitalist ideas. Let us find less capitalist mechanisms of verifying the seriousness of political organisations. Money is not everything,” he told reporters.
The EFF would be willing to comply if the electoral body proposed a figure of around R100 or R200. Malema said the current IEC requirement excluded poor people from contesting the elections.