IEC cannot deregister BLF from running for 2019 elections

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The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it cannot deregister the Black First Land First (BLF) party from running for the 2019 elections.

The IEC was clarifying its powers following public calls that the party be scrapped from the ballot for contravening the Electoral Code of Conduct.

This is after its leader Andile Mngxitama‘s comments relating to the killing of white people in Potchefstrom, North West, last weekend.

Freedom Front Plus  leader Pieter Groenewald is amongst those that have called for the Black First Land First party to be deregistered as a political party.

“South Africa doesn’t need instigators specifically, political instigators to create polarization in South Africa. The Freedom Front Plus wants peace. We want stability and we say we must comply with the principles of democracy so as far as I am concerned they should be deregistered as a political party,” says Groenewald.

The IEC has written a letter to the party warning that Mngxitama’s utterances constitute hate speech – which is in breach of the Electoral Commission Act and the Constitutions of the land and the party itself. Those that have taken issue with the BLF’s comments regarding the killing of white people include the ANC, DA, Congress of the People, Union Solidarity and the South African Human Rights Commission.

It says however that it has no powers currently to act against the party in terms of the Electoral Code of Conduct. “The Electoral Code of Conduct is only applicable in terms of our law once an election has been called outside an election which is the period we are currently in the Electoral Code is not in force so if these allegations had been made once an election had been called the Electoral Commission would be in a position to act because it has certain rights conferred to it when an election has been called,” says IEC Deputy CEO, Masego Sheburi.

Sheburi says that those who feel aggrieved can approach the Equality Court and the Electoral Court to get relief. “One cannot have recourse in terms of the Electoral Code because it is not in force the other laws of the country still have recourse for example you could take the party to the Equality Court for example you could make a case to the Electoral Court and the court might just decide to hear the matter because it has jurisdiction over political parties whether an election has been called or an election has not been called.”

According to reports the South African Human Rights Commission has vowed to haul the party before the Equality Court.

Meanwhile the BLF has said Mngxitama’s comments were taken out of context saying they were in response to those made by the Chair of Richemont Johann Rupert who said during a Power FM interview last week that he had an army from the taxi association that could deal with the EFF should it wish him harm.

The IEC says it is waiting for the BLF’s response to its letter.