News / South Africa / Elections / Local Elections 2021

Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
4 minute read
6 Oct 2021
12:39 pm

ActionSA gives IEC deadline over missing party name on ballot papers

Thapelo Lekabe

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has accused the electoral body of sabotaging his party ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.

Herman Mashaba speaks during a press conference at the Radisson Blu Gautrain hotel in Sandton, 6 October 2021. ActionSA has taken legal action against the IEC for issues that include shortening their name on the ballot paper which they believe will hinder them in the upcoming elections . Picture: Neil McCartney

ActionSA on Wednesday said it had lodged urgent papers at the Electoral Court to set aside the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) decision to exclude its name from the ballot paper for the local government elections.

Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg, ActionSA’s lead attorney, Wendel Bloem, said the party wanted the court to direct the commission to reissue and reprint ballot papers to reflect ActionSA’s name. As it stands, only the party’s logo is reflected on the ballot.

Bloem said the IEC’s contention that ActionSA’s name was excluded from the ballot paper because it chose not to register an abbreviated name or acronym was without any basis in law.

“The completion of a registration form where you are given an option of having an abbreviation name on the ballot paper or not is not a waiver for your rights to have what appears on the ballot paper,” Bloem said.

ALSO READ: More ‘problems’ between ActionSA and IEC as party threatens legal action

He said the IEC had until 12pm on Wednesday to inform the Electoral Court whether they would oppose ActionSA’s application or abide by the court’s ruling.

“Should it file a notice to oppose, then it has until 12pm tomorrow [Thursday] to file its answering affidavit. ActionSA then, in the event of receiving that answering affidavit, has until close of business on 7 October to file any relying affidavit. And we want to be in court this coming Friday,” he said.

IEC is ‘sabotaging’ ActionSA

The president of ActionSA, Herman Mashaba, accused the IEC of sabotaging his party ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.

He said they had noticed a pattern of sabotage from the commission when it comes to administrative issues involving ActionSA.

“I call it sabotage because this has been a pattern since our attempt to register our party.

“And I’m unapologetic about this. I don’t really take this to be an oversight [issue]. I take it to be a deliberate effort by the IEC to frustrate our efforts to participate in these elections,” he said.

Mashaba said he was not going to allow the IEC to trample on his party’s rights, saying the commission was behaving in an arrogant manner and had reduced ActionSA to just a logo.

“There is just no way that we are going to allow anyone to trample on our rights as South Africans to participate in the elections that are free and fair. And we expect this IEC to really play that role,” Mashaba said.

We are not going to allow South Africans to vote for a logo. We are not a logo, we are a political party registered with the IEC as ActionSA.

Ballot papers gone for printing

ActionSA’s interim national chairperson Michael Beaumont said they had deliberately chosen a name that has eight characters because the IEC’s limit for an abbreviation is not more than eight characters.

He said the IEC had informed them that ballot papers had already gone to print, and questioned why the commission had ignored ActionSA’s objections.

“What is very problematic about that is that if we are identifying issues on the ballot paper on Saturday, 2 October, and we are raising objections right there and then – how can it be that these things cannot be remedied? And what is the purpose of signing off ballot papers if not to address this kind of issue?”

Beaumont referred to the study by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), which found that names and abbreviated names of parties are the most important party identifiers on the ballot paper for voters.

He said the absence of their party name on the ballot paper would disadvantage ActionSA.

“Our request for this issue to be remedied was a reasonable and rational request born out of the interest of voters in South Africa to readily express their choice without any difficulty.”

In a statement on Monday, the IEC said ActionSA was among 15 political parties contesting the elections that appeared on the ballot papers without abbreviated names.

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”.

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