ActionSA threatens legal action over missing name on election ballot papers

04 October 2021 - 08:49
ActionSA's Herman Mashaba said the party's senate has expressed reservations about what appears to be a continued pattern of decisions made against its interests and its supporters. File photo.
ActionSA's Herman Mashaba said the party's senate has expressed reservations about what appears to be a continued pattern of decisions made against its interests and its supporters. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA has given the Electoral Commission (IEC) until 10am on Monday to add the party’s name to ballot papers for the upcoming local government elections or face legal action.

According to Mashaba, the party has been “beset by issues with the IEC”.

“During our brief time as a political party we have been refused to register as a party and we have been ignored in our concerns about the multiparty democracy fund that the IEC openly advocates for people to exclusively fund parties established in parliament. The exclusion of our candidates from the candidate list published this week has been resolved but not publicised, and we must endure an arbitrary refusal to reflect ActionSA equally on the ballot papers.”

On Sunday ActionSA wrote to the IEC about having only their logo but not their name on the election ballot. 

This was discovered when the IEC held its final presentation of draft ballot papers for wards in Gauteng.

The draft ballots include the names of the ward candidates, the logos of the parties and the abbreviated names of the parties.

However, ActionSA said there was a blank space where the party’s abbreviated name should be on the ballot papers. 

“One of the reasons ‘ActionSA’ was chosen as our name is that it complies with the IEC’s eight-character limit on abbreviated party names. Thus our party’s name could always be always used in full,” Mashaba said.

“In the IEC’s drafted ballot paper, only our logo features. The party’s name does not appear and an empty space has been left in its place. The implication of this is that ActionSA supporters will be limited only to a candidate name and a logo to identify the party on the ballot, while other parties will have the benefit of their name or popularised acronym appearing.

“Despite immediately raising this as an objection with the IEC, both during and after the ballot sign-off held on Sunday, ActionSA has been informed the issue will not be addressed.”

According to Mashaba, the IEC said it relies entirely on the registration documentation for this information and the ballot paper sign-off was not intended to deal with such issues.

One of the reasons ‘ActionSA’ was chosen as our name is that it complies with the IEC’s 8-character limit on abbreviated party names. Thus, our party’s name could always be always used in full
Action SA leader Herman Mashaba

ActionSA’s stance is that free and fair elections are being undermined if the IEC refuses to address an issue where supporters could have trouble identifying the political party of their choice on a ballot paper. 

“It is redundant to hold a session to sign-off on ballot papers and then refuse to address the material objections arising from that process. 

“There is no provision in law which limits or empowers the IEC to rely solely on a party’s registration documentation for the construction of ballot papers. Our law remains silent on what information goes into a ballot paper. In the absence of such provisions of legislation, the IEC must act in the interests of free and fair elections and administrative justice. As a matter of fact, ward candidate names are submitted by political parties in local government elections and the faces of party leaders in national and provincial elections, neither of which has anything to do with registration documentation.”

According to ActionSA, the IEC commissioned a study by the Human Sciences Research Council which found identifiers like the name of the party are important to make voting easier. The party said the IEC is ignoring the findings of the study it commissioned. 

“In electing to explore a legal course of action, ActionSA’s senate has expressed reservations about what appears to be a continued pattern of decisions made against the interests of ActionSA and its supporters,” Mashaba said. 

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