Pretoria - The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has
been ordered by the court to recognise Luthando Mbinda as the Pan Africanist
Congress (PAC) leader for purposes of the upcoming local government elections.
Granting the order in the High Court in Pretoria, Judge
Tati Makgoka said, although his ruling should not be understood to mean that
the Mbinda faction were the legitimate leaders of the PAC, it was in the public
interest for the IEC to be given direction with whom it should interact.
The PAC faction - led by Mbinda, the party's sole
representative in the National Assembly - applied for a court order after
the IEC suspended public funding to the party until its leadership struggle had
The IEC in June last year suspended the allocation
of funds to the PAC and withheld recognition of both opposing factions of
The Mbinda faction and a faction led by former PAC leader
Letlapa Mphahlele have been at loggerheads for years about who the real leaders
of the party are, with Alton Mphethi also claiming to be the party's
The leadership battle has led to a series of court
applications between the warring factions, which are still ongoing.
PAC secretary general Narius Moloto said in court papers
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, in fact, no leadership dispute which the
IEC could use as a reason to prevent the party from taking part in
the upcoming elections.
remains expelled from the PAC'
IEC deputy chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said in an
affidavit that the commission was in the unfortunate position that it did
not know who the PAC's leaders were, and that the dispute should be resolved as
soon as possible, either through the political process, or through the courts.
Mphahlele was expelled from the PAC in 2013, but obtained
a court order to set aside his expulsion. The Mbinda faction appealed and
a full bench of the court upheld his expulsion in October last year.
Mphahlele never appealed against the full bench's ruling,
but claims he has since been re-elected as the PAC's leader.
Judge Makgoka said Mphahlele remained expelled from the
PAC and that it was an untenable proposition that he could circumvent the
appeal process by simply "re-instating" himself.
He said all parties were in agreement that it was in the
public interest, especially for the PAC members and supporters, to make a
provisional order on which faction of the PAC the IEC should interact with for
purposes of the elections.
He turned down the Mphahlele's appeal that the IEC
should recognise both the Mbinda and Mhahlele factions as representing the PAC,
saying this would give rise to more complex issues.
"Much as one would wish to be as accommodative as
possible to the various factions in the PAC, I have to defer to the views of
the IEC, and not hamstring it with a complicated and difficult-to-implement
"... Mbinda's faction has been successful in
upholding Mphahlele's expulsion from the PAC. There is currently no pending
litigation between the PAC and Mphahele concerning the leadership of the PAC or
his expulsion from the PAC. He therefore remains expelled from the PAC.
"All his conduct and actions, purportedly on behalf
of the PAC, while his suspension remains, are obviously without any
force," Judge Makgoka added.