Get your house in order, judge tells PAC after it takes IEC to court

2016-02-23 19:55


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Pretoria  The PAC must sort out its leadership dispute before it can participate in the upcoming municipal elections, counsel for the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has told the High Court in Pretoria.

The IEC is opposing an urgent application by the PAC, led by the party's sole representative in Parliament, Luthando Mbinda, to set aside the IEC's decision to suspend the PAC from participating in the electoral process for the 2016 local government elections.

The application will probably only be heard next week or the week after as a result of Acting Judge CP Fourie allowing the matter to stand down so opposing PAC members seeking to intervene could file further papers and for the parties to negotiate a possible settlement.

One of the parties has also described itself as the PAC.

The commission in June last year suspended the allocation of monies to the PAC and withheld recognition of the opposing factions.

The so-called Mbinda faction and a faction led by former PAC leader, Letlapa Mphahlele, have been at loggerheads for years about who were the real leaders of the party. The leadership battle led to a series of court applications between the warring factions, which are continuing.

'Demise of PAC'

The PAC's secretary general, Narius Moloto, said in an affidavit that the IEC's decision could cause the demise of the PAC, which has taken part in every election since 1994.

Moloto insisted that Mphahlele remained suspended from the party and that there was actually no leadership dispute which the IEC could use as a reason not to let the party take part in the upcoming elections.

Counsel for the applicants, Advocate Francois Botha, told the court it would not be in the best interest of the country, the public, the PAC or the IEC to allow the matter to drag on without reaching finality, as it was going to destroy the PAC and its supporters.

"If that suspension is not lifted, there is no hope for the PAC," he said.

Botha said the applicant and the IEC were in principle on the same page, but had so far not been able to reach an agreement.

"The respondent (IEC) say they still have funds which have to be paid over to the PAC but they're not comfortable to pay it over unless they're satisfied that the people they pay it to are the real leaders," he said.

Get house in order

Judge Fourie said it was important that the party should find some way of being able to participate in the municipal elections. "What should be paramount is the best interest of the political party involved, not the individuals. The IEC says get your house in order," he said.

The IEC's deputy chief electoral officer, Sy Mamabolo, said in an affidavit that the IEC was in the unfortunate position that it did not know who the PAC's leaders were and the dispute should be resolved as soon as possible either through the political process, or through the courts.

The IEC's senior advocate, Marumo Moerane, described the leadership dispute as "a two-headed creature".

"We as the IEC would very much like clarity so that we know precisely who we're dealing with and who is entitled to this public money.

"We would like a speedy resolution of this matter. Unfortunately, the best solution would come from the parties themselves agreement and not the urgent court. ...The disputes can obviously not be resolved in the urgent court," he said.

Moerane said the parties should sit down and thrash out their dispute instead of dragging the IEC to court.

Read more on:    pac  |  iec  |  local elections 2016

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