Mounting legal battles for IEC as elections loom
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BLACK First Land First (BLF) is the latest political party to challenge the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) legally in the run-up to next month’s local government elections.
BLF was eager to have more than 80 of its candidates re-registered and be in the eThekwini Region mix when voting happens on November 1, but the IEC remained unmoved and maintained that the party had not complied with its regulations.
The party’s investigation revealed that there were network connection problems in Durban on September 21. This prevented the BLF from re-registering their candidates in question on the IEC’s voter portal.
They then proceeded to do manual registrations, but the IEC refused to entertain the approach.
The dispute between BLF and the IEC reached the Durban High Court earlier this month.
ActionSA, the party led by Herman Mashaba, is also locked in a legal tussle with the IEC, which is being handled by the Electoral Court.
Their dispute is that the IEC’s draft ballot papers, which emerged earlier this month, were without ActionSA’s name.
Only the party’s logo appears on the form, but the space available for the ActionSA name remains blank.
The IEC were ordered to file their responding documents on Tuesday and ActionSA were expected to respond by Friday (October 15).
The IEC also made a Constitutional Court application to have the local government elections postponed, claiming that it would not be “free and fair” because of the impact of Covid-19.
But their application was dismissed and they were ordered to stage the elections on any day between October 27 and November 1.
With the elections fast approaching, BLF, represented by law firm Makhanya Naicker Incorporated, logged their urgent application on October 7.
The crux of BLF’s application is that they had exhausted all the internal systems of the IEC to receive assistance with the re-submission of their candidates’ registration, which was not possible on September 20 and 21 due to network issues.
BLF claimed it was no fault of theirs they could not submit their candidates within the open period.
Judge Vusi Nkosi presided over the matter and granted an interim order, which compelled the IEC to show why an order that allowed the party’s candidates to be registered cannot be made final.
The hearing was set down for October 27.
However, in the response, the IEC brought a reconsideration application against the interim order.
The IEC’s application was handled by Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel on Thursday.
Judge Ploos van Amstel overturned the interim order granted to BLF on October 7, saying the IEC was not given enough time to attend to the urgent application.
BLF’s served its application documents on the IEC around midday on October 7 and the matter was set down for 2pm on the same day.
Judge Ploos van Amstel advised it was permissible for BLF to relaunch their application and suggested that the IEC be afforded at least 24 hours to respond.
Siboniso Makhanya, a director at Makhanya Naicker Incorporated, said: “Our office has been instructed to provide further legal assistance to the BLF in considering a further application against the IEC in light of Thursday’s order.”
The IEC did not respond to the Sunday Tribune’s questions.