Luthando Mbinda (Thulani Gqirana, News24)
Cape Town - The Pan Africanist Congress on Wednesday accused
the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) of trying to make it difficult
for the party to contest the municipal elections, after its demand that the
party prove who its leader is.
"There is no leadership dispute," charged MP
Luthando Mbinda at a media conference in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Mbinda said that in spite of several court challenges to his
position, he is the rightful president of the party. Unless the IEC recognised
this by the end of Wednesday, the PAC would be forced to take action such as
going to court.
On June 15, the IEC told the PAC that it had to provide a
court order to prove that Mbinda is indeed the leader of the PAC before it
could recognise PAC candidates that were submitted for the August 3 elections.
He found this outrageous and explained that one claimant to
the presidency, Letlapa Mphahlele, was expelled in 2013 for bringing the party
into disrepute. The other, the previous deputy president Alton Mphethi, who
initially took over from Mphahlele, was also expelled because he did not reveal
that there was a criminal case against him.
Last year Mphethi was sentenced to seven years in jail, with
five suspended, for the murder of a Swazi national in a love triangle.
Party funding suspended
Mbinda said that after Mphethi's expulsion, he became
president so that the position would not be vacant. This was then confirmed at
an elective congress in December 2015.
However, the IEC had suspended its party funding to the PAC
while various court battles over leadership played out, because it said it did
not know who to deal with.
In April the court said the IEC must recognise Mbinda for
the purposes of the August 3 elections.
The party intends putting up candidates for most metropolitan
Mbinda said that by questioning who the true leaders of the
PAC are, the IEC is denying the party its right to take part in the August 3
municipal elections. It had already battled to get its candidate lists
accepted, particularly in the Eastern Cape, which it considers its stronghold,
saying the IEC had instructed officials not to engage with them.
He said his lawyers had checked and there was no appeal
lodged by any other disgruntled PAC supporters, so the judgment that the IEC
deals with him, stands.
He claimed party representatives in the province were forced
to leave the IEC's offices in East London because of a missing document on the
June 2 deadline for registration of candidates, but the IEC was accepting others'
late documentation, which he felt was inconsistent. He said the representatives
were also chased out of the office even though they got through the doors
before the deadline on the same day.
He questioned why the IEC was having so much difficulty with
who its leader was, given that he was the one that signed the Electoral Code of
Conduct earlier this year.
"It has now become a ritual of sorts that before
elections the IEC must distract the PAC from its core business of campaigning.
The present election campaign period is no exception at all," said Mbinda.
He suggested political interference by the IEC in favour of
the ruling African National Congress and claimed there had been communication between
Mphahlele and the ANC.
"Elections are not only rigged on the day of the
voting. Elections are always rigged long before," he alleged.
Comment was not immediately available from the IEC.