'There is nothing that they can do to stop us' - BLF not deterred by court ruling

2019-04-29 17:18
Andile Mngxitama, leier van die BLF. Foto: Wikus de Wet

Black First Land First (BLF) says it is not deterred by the Electoral Court's finding that the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) erred when it did not publish the party's registration in the Government Gazette in 2016.

The party says it is looking forward to the looming elections.

"There is nothing that they can do to stop us. We are going to Parliament. On the 8th of May we are voting. Our people must know that. The court says the IEC must publish one segment of our application, but it does not mean anything, has no consequences on our status as a registered party," BLF leader Andile Mngxitama said after the ruling.

Mngxitama added that the party was clear about its membership policy in its constitution and the FF Plus was wasting its time by taking the party to court.

The court ruled on Monday that the chief electoral officer of the IEC was obliged to publish a decision to have a party registered in terms of section 15(5) of the Electoral Commission Act 51 of 1996.

Registration

On Monday, the FF+ argued that a segment of BLF's application to have it registered was never published and that it did not have the opportunity to object to the party's registration. The IEC did, however, publish BLF's application for political party status. 

FF+ lawyer Neil Snellenberg submitted that the BLF membership policy, which excludes other races and accepts "blacks only", amounted to blatant discrimination in contravention of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.

"The [IEC CEO] has failed to publish this registration. He has caused any aggrieved party not to be able to exercise its right of appeal," Snellenberg argued.

However, the IEC argued that the FF+ had no grounds to call for BLF to be deregistered when it never objected previously. 

The IEC's advocate submitted that from June 10, 2016, parties could appeal the registration.

The advocate added that the FF+ could not approach the courts three years later.

Arguing on behalf of his party, Mngxitama also submitted that it was too late.

Interested to see what happens

However, the court ruled that the IEC failed to publish the registration and that the appeal period therefore did not commence.

The FF Plus said while they were interested to find out what the IEC would do to rectify the mistake, they believed the commission still had other options to exclude BLF from the elections.

"There are certain regulations and certain sections that allow the electoral commission to say, for instance, when a political party contravenes the electoral code of conduct, that says although a political party participated in the election, the electoral commission can make a decision to not count the votes," FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said after the ruling.

Groenewald said they were happy about the finding.

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