Political party fails in bid to be on ballot paper

Political party fails in bid to be on ballot paper. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Political party fails in bid to be on ballot paper. Picture: Ian Landsberg

Published Jan 19, 2024


A want-to-be political party which hoped to be added to this year's ballot paper – Arise Afrika Arise – has had its hopes dashed.

The Electoral Court sitting in Bloemfontein confirmed that this name was almost similar to that of an existing party, namely Arise South Africa, and that it was likely to confuse or deceive the voters.

Arise Afrika Arise turned to the court after the Electoral Commission earlier refused to register it as a political party on the grounds that the applicant’s name resembled that of another registered party.

The Electoral Commission also rejected the application on the ground that the signatures of registered voters submitted by the applicant did not add up.

Arise Afrika Arise now wanted the court to set aside the decision by the commission’s refusal to register it as a political party.

It also asked the chairperson of the Electoral Court, Judge Dumisani Zondi, to overlook the fact that this application was launched outside the time in which it was allowed to bring it.

Ben Suping Mothupi, who describes himself as the founder, leader and president of Arise Afrika Arise, said the delay was caused by some administrative challenges.

Judge Zondi remarked that he was concerned about the explanation for the delay, as it was lacking in substance and was not satisfactory.

Not with standing Arise Afrika Arise’s failure to give a full explanation for the delay, the judge allowed the application as he said the right sought to be asserted was a political right to which every citizen of the country was entitled under the Constitution.

This right encompasses the right to form a political party, to campaign for a political party or cause, and to participate in the activities of a political party.

In May last year, Arise Afrika Arise applied for registration as a political party, which was refused as it was confusingly similar to another registered party and because the commissioner frowned upon the list of signed voters’ signatures which accompanied the application.

Regulations for the Registration of Political Parties require that the deed of foundation of a party seeking national registration – such as Arise Afrika Arise – must be signed by 1 000 registered voters.

The deputy chief electoral officer found that the signatures of registered voters on the deed of foundation were fraudulent and that the names of some of the registered voters were duplicated.

Arise Afrika Arise contended that the decision to reject its registration application on the basis that its proposed name was similar to that of Arise South Africa was unfair and inconsistent with the electoral office’s previous actions in registering other political parties with similar names.

Arise Afrika Arise accused the respondent of being inconsistent in the manner in which it applied the regulations on the registration of political parties.

It alleged that the respondent had caused parties such as Aboriginal Khoisan (AKS), which it said bore a striking similarity with the name Aboriginal Kingdom Alliance (AKA), and African Born Freedom Fighters (ABFF), similar to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and African Economic Freedom (AEF), to be registered.

Arise Afrika Arise averred that the respondent’s decision to refuse its registration demonstrated glaring acts of corruption and abuse of power.

Judge Zondi remarked that this application was “ill-advised” and rejected the allegations of corruption and abuse of power made in relation to the electoral commission.

On a comparison of the two names – Arise Afrika Arise and Arise South Africa – the judge said it can properly be said that there is a reasonable likelihood of confusion if both are to be used together on the ballot paper.

The emphasis in both names is on the two words ‘Arise’ and ‘Afrika’. An undecided voter may cast his or her vote for Arise Afrika Arise when in fact his or her intention is to vote for Arise South Africa.

In turning down the application, the judge further said Arise Afrika Arise has no answer to the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer’s finding that the signatures of the registered voters on its deed of foundation were fraudulent.

Pretoria News

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