The BLF made an application to the IEC to register as a political party on May 20, 2016. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission (IEC) came under attack in the Electoral Court in Johannesburg for its failure to publish the names of all political parties contesting the upcoming national elections on the government gazette.

This was the unanimous ruling of the full bench of the Electoral Court following an appeal application of Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on the IEC decision not to grant them condonation on their application to have the Black First Land First (BLF) to be removed from the list of parties contesting elections.

The FF+ application in the Electoral Court focused on the IEC’s decision not to grant them condonation after they argued that the electoral body made a mistake not to publish all the names of the political parties contesting elections. The FF+ through their counsel Adv Neil Snellenberg SC argued that, if they had adhered to section 15 and 16 of the Electoral Code, it would have allowed aggrieved parties to lodge a complaint against any party which did not meet the requirements to contest the elections.

The IEC, however, during their oral argument objected to the FF+ application.

IEC legal counsel Adv Vincent Maleka argued that the BLF made an application to the IEC to register as a political party on May 20, 2016. The IEC then published the application for its registration as a political party on May 27. 

Adv Maleka argued that during the publication of May 27, 2016, all parties and interested persons were given a period of 14 days express their objections.

“Following no objections. The Chief Electoral Officer then confirmed the registration of the BLF as a political party on June 10, 2017. Since then there had been no objections. The applicant has ignored the 14 days period to object. They raised their objection after two years and 10 months. Their appeal application should be rejected,” Maleka said.

BLF president Andile Mngxitama - who represented himself in the application, used the same arguments to that of the IEC but the Judges had none of it.

The Judges unanimously found that the IEC failed to comply with the laws of the Electoral Court which obliges the Sy Mamabolo - the chief electoral officer - to publish the names of all political parties in the government gazette. Mamabolo was also required to give aggrieved parties 30 days to object to the names of parties on the list.

However, the court ruling did not bar the BLF to participate in the upcoming elections as it only ordered Mamabolo to publish the list of all political parties in the government gazette “as soon as it is practically possible”.

Political Bureau