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Both FF+ and BLF claim victory in electoral court scuffle

By Lelethu Tonisi 30 April 2019
Caption
epa07488388 Black Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama (C) arrives at the party's election manifesto launch in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, 06 April 2019. South Africa on 08 May 2019 will hold its 5th general elections since the end of white apartheid rule in 1994. EPA-EFE/YESHIEL PANCHIA

The Electoral Court sitting at the Johannesburg High Court has ordered the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to publish the registration of the BLF in the government gazette ‘as soon as reasonably practicable’. The court found that the IEC erred in failing to publish the BLF’s registration in the government gazette. BLF can still contest the 8 May national election, however.

The IEC did not comply with legislation when it failed to publish the BLF’s registration in the Government Gazette as per the Electoral Commissions Act section 15 of 1996, Johannesburg high court judge Boissie Mbha ruled.

The court ruling is one of several developments between the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) versus Black First Land First (BLF) scuffle since the FF+ first lodged an appeal back in February to the electoral court to have the BLF de-registered as a political party. Then it argued that the BLF’s constitution was unlawful in that it “promotes racial disparity and encourages racism”.

On Monday, 29 April the court did not entertain those preliminary arguments by the FF+, instead it focused on the integrity of the IEC’s actions which it found were flawed.

According to Mbha, the IEC failed to uphold the Electoral Act which stipulates that a political party’s registration must be published in the government gazette. A failure to publish the registration meant that the 30 days in which appeals could be made against the registration was not applicable.

The IEC was not available for comment after the judgment.

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald claimed victory for his party and said that it was a pity that they had to come to the Electoral Court as the electoral commission itself should have admitted to its wrongdoing.

We said from the start that the Electoral Commission made a mistake and the court findings have now also confirmed that, so in that sense, it is a victory for the Freedom Front Plus,” he said.

Groenewald emphasised that through their application they were also seeking to send a strong message to all citizens of South Africa including political parties that “nobody is above the law and the law is quite clear that a political party cannot be registered if their membership is based only on race”.

The ruling, however, does not have a negative bearing on the BLF’s participation in the upcoming elections on 8 May.

This led BLF leader Andile Mngxitama to also claim the court ruling as a victory.

We beat Freedom Front Plus in all elements. Initially, they came to this court and then ran away to the IEC and they were rejected. The essence is that we are on these elections. The FF+’s main hope was that we will be disqualified because they are terrified of BLF going to Parliament. They know we are the only party that is going to make sure that we take the land that was stolen from us.

My advice to FF+ is that they must start preparing to leave the farms because we are going to Parliament to force the EFF and the ANC to do the right thing because when we are in Parliament they can’t sell out,” said Mngxitama.

The FF+ said that findings by the court will inform a way forward for the party. BLF, on the other hand, said they will salvage the time wasted by the FF+ on their behalf to continue canvassing ahead of the elections. DM

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