IFP to take legal action against IEC hiring

2014-05-01 00:00

THE IFP has threatened to take legal action against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) for hiring teachers belonging to the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) as electoral officers.

This despite the IEC last year providing parties on its liaison committee with names of presiding officers and having offered parties an opportunity to object to those appointed if they held leadership positions in any organisation.

The party decided to look at the legal route after their written objection to the hiring of teachers by the IEC was dismissed last week.

“We sent our written objection on April 17 and we received a response on April 24. They responded by saying they don’t have time to deal with it,” IFP lawyer Lourens de Klerk said yesterday.

He said the IFP Sadtu members were disqualified from being electoral officers because their union supported and actively campaigned for the ruling party.

“In light of these facts, the appointment of Sadtu members as electoral officers constitutes a flagrant contravention of section 8.2 of the Electoral Act, and violates the constitutionally entrenched notion that the IEC should be independent at all times and should not be associated with any political party.”

De Klerk also said in their yet to be lodged court action that they will call on the chief electoral officer to remove all electoral officers who are Sadtu members, on the grounds that their membership of Sadtu constitutes a “material contravention of [section 8.2], rendering the upcoming elections on May 7 neither free nor fair.”

However, the legal action is unlikely to impact on the elections as the IFP will not pursue the application on an urgent one.

“We will bring a court application in a normal way. I don’t think there is time to do it,” he said, adding that there were few days left before May 7.

However, De Klerk said they would still lodge papers as a matter of principle.

“If anything comes in the elections, we will include it. If there is a problem at voting stations, we will show this is a problem,” he said.

Although confirming that parties had been afforded an opportunity to object to presiding officers, De Klerk said the court action was also motivated by the possibility Sadtu teachers who supported and campaign for the ANC could be biased.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleka said the legal action was ill-informed because the IEC appointed staff who had capacity and expertise to run the elections.

He said the IEC did appoint its personnel on the basis that they were Sadtu members.

Malulela described the legal action as a last kick of a dying horse that did not acknowledge it was no longer relevant in the political landscape.

The IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela could not be reached for comment.

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