FF Plus and BLF both claim victory after high court showdown
The Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) and Black First Land First (BLF) both claimed victory after a high court decision on Monday instructing the IEC to publish the registration of the BLF in the government gazette "as soon as reasonably practical".
The judgment was handed down by judge Boissie Mbha at the high court in Johannesburg after the FF Plus asked for the BLF to be deregistered and prevented from taking part in the May 8 election due to procedural irregularities by the IEC.
Although the court did not venture into the merits of the case, it granted relief, in part, to the FF Plus with an instruction that IEC chief executive Sy Mamabolo "must publish his or her decision [to register the BLF] in terms of section 15 of the Electoral Commission Act 51 of 1996 as soon as reasonably practical".
The act in question dictates, among other things, that a political party's application to register must be published in the government gazette.
It adds that another political party wishing to object must do so within 14 days of the publication.
The BLF's application was published in May 2016 and no party, including the FF Plus, had objected within the stipulated time.
However, the act then stipulates that upon approval of the application to register, which was granted to the BLF by the electoral commission, the IEC chief executive must publish that. This was was not done in this instance.
The ruling, however, has no bearing on the upcoming general elections which the BLF is cleared to contest.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald claimed victory, citing the fact that the court had agreed that the IEC had failed to publish the BLF's registration.
"[The court judgment] is not necessarily saying that the BLF's registration is correct. In fact if you look into the Electoral Commission Act, then they should not have been registered and that is the merit of the case which has not been argued today," said Groenewald.
"Therefore we say it is a victory for the Freedom Front Plus. We will study the final findings and we will make the decision on the way forward.
"It is a pity that we had to come to the electoral court because the electoral commission itself should have admitted that they made a mistake and they should have approached the court to see what the way forward is - so for us it is a victory. This application is to say to all people and political parties: nobody is above the law and the law is clear that a political party cannot be registered if their membership is based on race."
Mngxitama also claimed victory, saying the FF Plus hoped his party would not be able to take part in the May 8 polls.
"Groenewald has got his party of settlers, colonialists and land thieves. Why does he want to come here to BLF because we will not accept him, he must just return land," said BLF leader Andile Mngxitama.
"South Africa is a country of black people. Twenty-five years after democracy black people, including black judges, we remain landless tenants in this country. The land is with these guys.
"We have been telling this party of land thieves that there is nothing they can do to stop us. We are going to parliament because on the 8th [of May] we are voting. Our people must know that the court says the IEC must publish the one segment of our application but it does not mean anything, it has no consequences whatsoever on our status as a registered party."