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AUP contests security deposti requirements

03 April 2014, 13:33
A FLEDGLING political party has gone to the highest court in South Africa to stop the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from charging parties "among the highest security deposits of any democracy in the world".
The Africa Unite Party (AUP) is the second party to approach the courts over the IEC’s requirement of a deposit of up to R605,000 for a party to contest the May 7 national elections. Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also recently sought court relief to avoid paying the deposit.
AUP attorney Michal Johnson said on Wednesday that the party had notified the IEC of its intentions on March 24 and brought an application to the Constitutional Court on March 26 to have the stipulation ruled unconstitutional.
Party leader Robin Denton said the AUP hoped to have the deposit requirement abolished or significantly reduced, as the cost of contesting elections in South Africa was higher than that in even mature democracies.
"We have international funding for the court case from sponsors who believe the commission should put its money where its mouth is," he said. "I would have been prepared to put up my house to pay the security deposit if I thought it was worth it.
"But what is expected of us disenfranchises the poor in the political process. India is the largest democracy in the world. Parties there pay a R4,500 deposit for the same thing."
Mr Denton said his party did engage the EFF over its legal challenge to the deposit but decided to challenge its constitutionality on its own after the EFF eventually paid the deposit.
"We have already been given directions from the chief justice," he said. "We have submitted our affidavit and the IEC will have opposing arguments. We are not sure if this will be in open court or in chambers. It should be over before April 22 and, if (the deposit requirement is) overturned, we hope to contest elections."
IEC deputy chairman Terry Tselane would not respond to Mr Denton’s arguments and only said the commission would oppose the application.
"I can’t get into the merits of the case while it is before the courts. We are opposing the substance what is being said. We would rather wait until after the Constitutional Court has pronounced on the matter," Mr Tselane said.
Last month, the High Court in Johannesburg dismissed the urgency of the EFF’s application for temporary exemption from having to pay the deposit. The party later paid the deposit ahead of the IEC’s deadline despite claiming it did not have the money. Reply Reply to all Forward
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