'ActionSA elected not to register abbreviated name or acronym', IEC responds to party

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ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba delivering the party's  inaugural manifesto on 22 September 2021.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba delivering the party's inaugural manifesto on 22 September 2021.
Juniour Khumalo
  • The IEC says that ActionSA elected not to register an abbreviated name or acronym.
  • This comes after an earlier report that the party is in talks with lawyers over missing party names in final draft ballot papers.
  • Action SA is set to take legal action on the matter.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says the only reason ActionSA's abbreviated name is not on the ballot paper is the party's fault.  

In response to complaints, the IEC said when registering as a political party, ActionSA elected not to register an abbreviated name or acronym.

"ActionSA, in their documents in which they applied for registration as a political party, and which must be publically [sic] lodged in terms of the regulations, responded with a 'Not Applicable' in the space where the political party was required to indicate its abbreviated name," the IEC said in a statement on Monday.

The IEC added that the party went further to indicate that, "... there is no abbreviation of the name of the party", as part of its application documentation.

"The application was lodged in Government Gazette 43940, published on 27 November 2020," the IEC said.

Speaking to News24 on Monday evening, ActionSA National Chairperson Micheal Beaumont said that in the registration form referred to, the party wrote: "Not Applicable" .

Beaumont added that the party further indicated that the name is not to be abbreviated and that its name will always be ActionSA which is eight characters long.

"Even if you accept that there is ambiguity there, the registration documentation has absolutely no legal link to what goes onto the ballot paper.

He added:

What is really concerning [is that] it is the IEC's obligation to safeguard free and fair elections by making it easier for supporters to recognise their political party.

As a result, ActionSA says that its legal team will immediately begin drafting court papers on an urgent basis.

News24 earlier reported that political party, ActionSA was in talks with lawyers over missing party names in final draft ballot papers.

On Sunday, the party issued a statement stating that its name had been omitted from the final draft ballot papers, which were shown to political parties at a signatory event on Saturday. News24 further reported that from the image seen by News24, ActionSA appeared to be the only party that did not have its name alongside its logo and ward candidate. 

READ | ActionSA threatens IEC with legal action after draft ballot omits party's candidate names in Gauteng

In its statement on Monday, the IEC said it had received and responded to communication from ActionSA, one of the parties contesting the 2021 Municipal Elections, regarding the ballot paper design.

It further confirmed that following the close of candidate nominations, a series of meetings of the local Political Party Liaison Committees were convened to enable political parties and independent candidates participating in the 1 November Municipal Elections to sign off on the draft ballot paper.

The IEC explained: "The purpose of this exercise is to verify the completeness of administrative processes related to candidate nomination as well as confirmation of the registered party identifiers on the various ballots. 

In terms of the electoral prescripts, the Commission is empowered to determine the design of ballot papers to be used in an election. This has been the case since the advent of democracy in the country.

According to the IEC, the scheme in the design of the ward ballots involves the following identifiers: the name of the candidate, photo in case of an independent candidate, the logo (or distinguishing mark) of the party, and the abbreviated name of the party, where one has been registered.

ALSO READ | IEC blunder gives ActionSA chair a sleepless night over Gauteng candidates

In addition, in the case of a PR ballot, the cluster of identifiers is replicated, save that the name of the candidate is replaced by the full name of the political party. "The use of registered particulars of a political party in the ballot paper design is intended to obviate ad hoc and arbitrary considerations.

"The unique identifiers are provided by each political party at the point of application for registration as a party. Thus the scheme places responsibility on the party to register whatever details and identifiers it deems appropriate," the IEC said.

The Electoral Commission further stated that 14 other political parties appear on the various ballot papers without abbreviated names. It further concluded that the insinuation that the Commission is acting without due impartiality is, "... without foundation and mischievous.

"The onus to choose party identifiers rests with the political party and not the Commission, and the scheme in the ballot design has been part of our electoral management practice since the inception of democratic local government in 2000," it said.

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