IEC will ‘vigorously’ oppose legal action by disgruntled parties

Parties raised concerns, among others, about the ink used to mark voters' thumbs being easy to remove.
Parties raised concerns, among others, about the ink used to mark voters' thumbs being easy to remove.
Image: SAGov

The Electoral Commission (IEC) says it will "vigorously" oppose any legal action aimed at interfering in the conduct of the elections and finalisation and announcement of results.

In response to a letter from disgruntled parties demanding that the IEC undertake an independent audit by an auditor of the parties’ choosing and a “rerun” of the elections, the electoral body said on Saturday it had written to lawyers representing the parties advising that their demands were unreasonable and unlawful.

Fairly low voter turnout and a few parties’ growth were the highlights as the IEC officially declared the results of the 2019 elections on 11 May 2019.

PODCAST: Smaller parties suspect fraud

In a statement, the commission noted that only it was empowered by law to adjudicate on the outcome of elections, declare the outcome and announce results. It said aggrieved parties had ample recourse to raise objections through the normal objection process and, if still unsatisfied, to appeal against decisions of the commission in court.

“The law makes no provision for preemptive legal action to interdict the commission from abiding by its constitutional and legal mandate,” it stated.

Twenty-seven disgruntled political parties put the Independent Electoral Commission on terms, threatening Electoral Court action if the body didn’t appoint an independent auditor and review election results by 11am on Saturday.

In a lawyer’s letter bearing the title “extremely urgent”, the parties staged an eleventh-hour effort to have their parlous performance at the polls reviewed.

The parties concerned were: Forum 4 Service Delivery, African Content Movement, International Revelation Congress, Ecoforum, Better Residents Association, CPM, South African National Congress of Traditional Authorities, Women Forward, Land Party, ATM, PAU, SRWP, Alliance for Transformation, COPE, African Renaissance Unity, African Security Congress, SANCOTA, Compatriots of South Africa, NPA, IRC, NAPF, NFP, PAC, PRM and African Covenant.

The commission said in its response on Saturday it had received 47 objections, of which five were upheld and five withdrawn by the objecting parties. Most of the objections did not meet the requirements of section 55 and lacked any evidence of irregularity, it said.

“The commission is satisfied with the integrity of its systems. Additionally, the commission has further  instituted an independent technical assurance process involving a random sample of 1,020 voting districts to be conducted by the Statistician-General and is awaiting the findings of this process.

“Based on the findings and all other complaints and objections received, the commission will make a decision on the outcome of the elections later today (Saturday),” the statement read.

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