(Khanyisani Dlomo968, News24 user)
Durban – The National Freedom Party will know on Thursday whether or not it will be allowed to contest the August 3 local government elections after it was disqualified for failing to meet the Independent Electoral Commission's payment deadline.
The party's spokesperson Sabelo Sigudu said the party was expected to appear at the Electoral Court on Thursday.
"People must not panic, the leadership is working on rectifying the matter and we are confident that the court will rule in our favour and we will contest the elections."
He warned rival political parties who were already eyeing NFP supporters that the battle was not over yet. "We will fight until the end," he said.
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South Africans were first introduced to NFP's Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, a former school principal and mayor in Zululand, in 2011.
KaMagwaza-Msibi, who is also the deputy science and technology minister, left the Inkatha Freedom Party just before the local government elections and her party formed a coalition in KZN with the ANC after the 2011 local government elections left 19 hung municipalities in the province.
Internal battles for positions
The ANC recently announced that it was going all out to win all the municipalities around the province and that it would not co-govern municipalities with any parties.
Since its formation, the party has been plagued by internal battles for positions with leaders reportedly taking each other to court.
The party suffered a further blow when kaMagwaza-Msibi suffered a stroke in November 2014.
Sigudu said they approached the Electoral Court last week "and there is a sitting in Bloemfontein tomorrow, where we will hear whether we can contest or not".
He said the NFP president was informed on Tuesday and she had accepted the news.
The party was in the process of investigating allegations of sabotage, he added.
"Action is going to be taken against those who allegedly sabotaged the party because people were responsible [for complying] with the IEC and they did not."
On Tuesday, a reliable source told News24 that the person responsible for making the payment sent the commission a blank cheque which allegedly bounced. The source claimed that the money was then deposited to the commission after the deadline date of June 2.
Sigudu said the party was investigating the allegations and was confident that the party would be able to recover from the situation.
"We already have Zululand and we are targeting uThukela and uThungulu."
He denied that the party was cash strapped.
"We do have money, it's just that someone sabotaged us."
IEC KZN chairperson Mawethu Mosery said the commission had an election timetable which was gazetted and parties had to strictly comply with it.
He said parties had until June 2 to submit candidates lists and pay the deposit.
"We had a duty to inform political parties about candidates who did not qualify because they did not submit copies of their ID's or their acceptances letters. We have already disqualified some candidates who did not comply."
Mosery said on June 27, the commission released the final list of candidates who qualified and were disqualified.
"The rules are clear - if you did not pay the deposit by June 2, you are immediately disqualified. It does not matter whether you submitted your lists or not."
He said the IEC followed all legal processes.
NFP 'a step closer to death'
"They remain disqualified pending the court's decision. The court will decide whether they remain disqualified or it can be lenient and allow them to contest."
He said he was not sure how much the party was meant to pay, but that the amount depended on the number of municipalities they were going to contest.
"It costs roughly R490 000 to contest the whole country and less if you select a few municipalities," he said.
Politics professor at the University of the Witwatersrand's School of Governance Susan Booysen said the NFP was a step closer to its death.
Booysen said the party did not need another debacle as it was already faced with various challenges.
"The rules of the IEC are very clear and I imagine that it is going to be difficult for the IEC to vote in the NFP's favour, because it would open a floodgate of appeals from other parties."
Caught between ANC, IFP
She said it would be a sad ending to a small political party who had a good footing in the local government.
"They had internal battles for positions and financial problems because, let's admit it, they are not rolling in the money. I am not sure how well they would have done in these elections considering that some of their supporters had gone back to the IFP and the ANC had divorced it in some of the municipality it was co-governing with the NFP."
She said she felt sorry for NFP members as the party was vulnerable because it was caught between the ANC and the IFP. Of the two parties, Booysen said, the IFP stood a better chance of benefiting from the NFP's disqualification.
If the party remains disqualified, it will have to wait until 2021 to contest local government elections.