Court bid to nullify election results amid government of national unity talks

Electoral Commission of SA chairperson Mosotho Moepya has denied that the May 29 national and provincial election results were compromised. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Electoral Commission of SA chairperson Mosotho Moepya has denied that the May 29 national and provincial election results were compromised. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 9, 2024


THE Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is facing its first legal challenge to the election, with a number of political parties lodging objections to the final results and calling for them to be declared null and void.

In papers filed by the Hola Bon Renaissance (HBR) Foundation this week, the non-profit organisation approached the Electoral Court about what it calls the IEC’s failure to discharge its statutory obligations.

The HBR Foundation wants the 2024 national and provincial elections to be declared null and void in terms of the Electoral Act, which empowers the commission or the Electoral Court to decide – whether as a result of an objection or appeal brought under section 55, which deals with objections material to the final election results, or otherwise – that a serious irregularity has occurred concerning any aspect of the polls.

In terms of the act, the IEC or the Electoral Court may order that the votes cast at a particular voting station do not count in whole or in part, or that the votes cast in favour of a registered party or candidate at a particular voting station must be deducted in whole or in part from the votes cast in favour of that registered party or candidate in that election.

According to the HBR Foundation, various political parties, including former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), lodged objections with the IEC in compliance with the act, which requires objections to be made to the commission in the prescribed manner not later than 9pm on the second day after the voting day.

According to its court papers: ”The respondent (IEC) did not meaningfully decide the objection of the MKP or of the other political parties who laid objections. The respondent failed to provide reasons for it’s failure to meaningfully decide the objections of the MKP and other political parties and inform them of the same.”

In addition, the HBR Foundation states that the IEC failed to discharge its statutory obligations in terms of the act to decide objections and to notify the objector and any other political parties involved in the objection of its decision.

The foundation contends that the IEC screen did not correctly reflect the actual votes cast by the electorate.

”The respondent’s (IEC’s) failure to comply with provisions of section 55(4) of the act (to decide on the objection and notify the objector and other political parties) is irregular, irrational, arbitrary and illegal,” charged the HBR Foundation.

The deadline for objections was Friday, May 31, at 9pm, but the IEC was forced to extend it until 6pm the following day and received at least 579 objections, and in 24 instances the commission ordered recounts.

IEC chairperson Mosotho Moepya this week denied the election results system was compromised despite the results dashboard going blank for nearly two hours two days after election day.

The Electoral Court case comes as talks on the structure and form of the government of national unity announced by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa intensify, following the governing party’s dismal performance in the May 29 polls in which it obtained just above 40%.

Following last Thursday’s meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee, the party’s highest decision-making body between national conferences, Ramaphosa said the decision to invite political parties to form a government of national unity was the best option to move the country forward, and that his party had already held constructive discussions with the DA, EFF, IFP, National Freedom Party and the Patriotic Alliance.

The ANC’s negotiations task team will be under the guidance of its top seven national officials and national working committee to develop in greater detail the modalities, principles and governance framework to guide all the parties to the government of national unity, to ensure that it is coherent an effective and serves the people.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the official opposition was opposed to a ruling alliance including the MKP and the EFF, claiming that allowing this to happen would set the country’s flag and Constitution on fire.

The MKP, which emerged as the third-largest party after the elections, has indicated it will only consider going to Parliament once its threatened urgent applications to present sufficient evidence of vote rigging, to its detriment and that of other parties, are concluded.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said the country’s fourth-largest party has started discussions with the ANC on a possible coalition government based on its seven non-negotiable cardinal pillars, including among others the expropriation of land without compensation for equal distribution and the nationalisation of mines, banks and other strategic sectors of the economy.

”We are opposed to the government of national unity as it resembles what was concocted in 1994,” he said, adding that the EFF did not want to form part of a government with representatives of the white colonial and apartheid system.

Shivambu said the DA and other white minority parties represented the agenda of the white colonial and apartheid system.

ANC veteran Mac Maharaj said negotiations between political parties should identify areas in which they share a common commitment.

”Areas and issues where there is disagreement should be put aside, leaving each party the right to espouse its specific position through Parliament,” he suggested.

Independent political analyst and University of Limpopo senior lecturer Dr Metji Makgoba told the Sunday Independent that the experience of coalition governments in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape after the 2016 local government elections indicates the country is headed for a disastrous future, marked by political instability and the lack of a coherent political agenda.

”The tensions between the DA, the ANC, and the EFF showed that these parties have not been able to find common ground that intends to drive ‘national interests’,” he said.

Makgoba said the ANC and the DA have been bullying their partners with reckless abandon and have not understood the notion of coalitions.

”The ideological differences between the political parties that have won seats in Parliament suggest that the nation is headed towards political uncertainty.

“At worst, the coalition partners have not demonstrated any decency and maturity to move beyond their personal party interests, suggesting that South Africa is not culturally ready for a coalition government,” Makgoba said.