News / South Africa / Courts

Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
21 Oct 2021
4:52 pm

Court reserves judgment in ActionSA case against IEC over ballot paper omission

Molefe Seeletsa

The judgment will be delivered 'as quickly as possible', according to the Electoral Court's chairperson Judge Boissie Mbha.

Herman Mashaba speaks near Bree Taxi Rank in Johannesburg as Action SA launches their first government election campaign on 9 September 2021. Picture: Neil McCartney

The Electoral Court on Thursday reserved its judgment in ActionSA’s application over the absence of its name from the ballot paper for the upcoming local government elections.

Court bid

ActionSA had lodged urgent papers with the Electoral Court earlier this month in an effort to set aside the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) decision to exclude its name from the ballot paper for the municipal elections.

The court’s chairperson Judge Boissie Mbha – who presided over the proceedings – reserved judgment in the matter after he heard a day of arguments from ActionSA’s counsel, as well the IEC.

ALSO READ: Mashaba takes IEC to court over ballot paper omission

Mbha, a judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), noted the urgency of ActionSA’s application, saying the judgment would be delivered “as quickly as possible” with the elections around the corner.

“I’m sure [the counsel] will well appreciate that this is not quite a straightforward case and it’s urgent. We have to decide as quickly as possible, but we will do our best,” he said.

Mbha then added: “Depending on how it goes we might perhaps choose to grant an order if we are in agreement and reasons may follow later.”

Omission

ActionSA previously threatened to take legal action against the IEC, with the party giving the commission a chance to correct the ballot list.

However, the IEC indicated that it was unlikely it would be able to add the names of political parties that were omitted from the ballot paper.

READ MORE: No South Africans, no business, says Mashaba in election campaign

The commission said it was unlikely to change this because the parties had elected not to register an abbreviated name or acronym when they registered their political parties.

It also rejected claims it was not acting impartially, saying the allegations were “without foundation and mischievous”.

The IEC had presented final draft ballot papers for wards in Gauteng, but ActionSA’s name was not on the list, although the party’s logo does appear.

The local elections are set to take place in less than two weeks on 1 November.

Ballot production

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo told eNCA on Wednesday that if the commission suffers defeat in the case, it would have to recall ballots that have already been printed.

A recall will affect six municipalities as the IEC is 60% complete with the printing process.

“It is indeed so that [a recall] would affect a number of municipalities. We have submitted our papers and now the matter is now in the hands of the court which will obviously exercise its mind judicially to the dispute.

“And whichever way the matter is finally determined, it is for us to ensure that we remain compliant with the orders of court. To that extent we will comply as we have done in other previous cases,” Mamabolo said.