ACDP to challenge Cape election barring in court

The African Christian Democratic Party is confident of winning its Constitutional Court challenge against being barred from contesting the Cape Town municipal poll.

“We believe we have a strong case,” ACDP legal adviser Vincent Bergh told reporters in the city on Wednesday after hearing the party has been granted leave to appeal against an earlier Electoral Court ruling.

The party maintains the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is at least partly to blame for a “mistake” that saw no deposit being paid for the ACDP to contest the March 1 election in Cape Town.

The party has the third-largest representation on the city council.

Bergh said the IEC deviated from a requirement that parties pay a deposit by bank-guaranteed cheque for each area contested.

Instead, the commission allowed for a party to make one central bulk payment, accompanied by a list of all the municipalities to be contested.

When it paid its deposit on January 17, the name of Cape Town was left off the ACDP’s preliminary list by accident, Bergh said.

It was included on the final list submitted by the final deadline of January 19, but without proof that a payment had been made specifically for the Cape Town municipality with its 105 wards.

Bergh said the IEC was responsible for checking that the required deposit had been paid for each of the municipalities on the list.

The ACDP had paid the IEC an excess R10 000, R3 000 of which the party contended could easily be regarded as the Cape Town deposit.

The critical issue, Bergh claimed, is that voters be given the opportunity to exercise their right to vote for the party of their choice.

“Technical hiccups like this, especially when not prescribed in the [Electoral] Act, should not be able to preclude a party from participating in an election.”

The ACDP is to argue its case before the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon. It is likely to give a ruling no later than Friday, said Bergh. This allows enough time, if the party wins, for the reprinting of Cape Town election ballots.

“It is not going to be the easiest job, but we have spoken to the printers and they said they can do it.”

If the court’s decision goes against it, the ACDP said, there is nothing further it can do.

The ACDP will not advise its supporters on voting for other parties, as it believes none other shares its particular biblically grounded principles.

“We are in there until the end,” said the party’s provincial leader Hansie Louw. “We will not quit until the end.”

The IEC said it is awaiting the outcome of Thursday’s court hearing.—Sapa

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