South Africa: IEC Adjudicates Registration of Political Parties

Left: BLF logo. Right: IEC logo.

The Electoral Commission has met to adjudicate on two appeals received against the registration of the African Transformation Movement (ATM) and the Black First Land First (BLF).

This as the Commission met to adjudicate on two appeals received against the registration of political parties.

The Commission dismissed an appeal by the South African Council of Messianic Churches in Christ (SACMCC) against the registration of the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

The SACMCC had objected to the registration on the grounds that the ATM had not submitted all the required documentation.

However, the Commission found that the ATM had met all the necessary requirements for registration in terms of the Electoral Commission Act.

"On careful consideration of the documentary evidence before the Commission, there can be no doubt that the ATC and ATM are the same political party and further that the two registration applications are interlinked. The supplementary application only sought to deal with those particulars in the initial application that had rendered the ATC inadmissible, (i.e. the name and logo)," the Commission found in its ruling.

In April, the ATM said it remained unbothered amid reports that it was registered as a party fraudulently. This as a breakaway group wrote to the Commission claiming that the party has been established fraudulently.

These claims came ahead of South Africans heading to the polls to cast their vote in the May 8 elections, which were contested by the ATM.

In the second case, the Commission found in favour of an appeal lodged against the registration of the Black First Land First (BLF) party by the Vryheidsfront Plus (VF+).

The Commission has deregistered the BLF.

The VF+ lodged the appeal on the grounds that the BLF excludes its membership on the basis of race.

"The Commission defended the original decision to approve the BLF's registration in 2016 as it said the BLF's constitution did not expressly exclude white people from membership. However, subsequent admissions by the BLF in its response to the appeal had served to clarify the position of the party - namely, to exclude white people from membership," it said.

The Commission said the admission settles any ambiguity in relation to clause 4 that previously existed.

"It also resolves the dispute as to whether the BLF is a party with a constitution that entitles it to registration: It is not. Section 16(1) (c) of the Electoral Commission Act gives the CEO (and, on appeal, the Commission) no discretion but to reject an application for registration if membership of a party is excluded on any of the grounds prohibited under subsection (ii).

"Consequently, the registration of the BLF as a party is unlawful on the grounds that it was prohibited under section 16(1) (c) (ii) of the ECA and is invalid," the Commission ruled.

The Commission has written to the appellants and affected parties to inform them of the decisions.

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