The logos of ActionSA, left, and Party of Action SA. Picture: SUPPLIED
The logos of ActionSA, left, and Party of Action SA. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has upheld its decision to reject the registration of Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA as a political party on the basis that the logo and name are similar to another party.

Mashaba said ActionSA was informed of the IEC’s decision on Monday, and is consulting its legal team to study it.

“It is clear that ActionSA stands an excellent prospect of successfully reviewing the IEC’s decision by the high court on an urgent basis, however ActionSA must now weigh the merits of its options,” he said.

ActionSA, which supports a free-market economy, nonracialism, social justice and adherence to the rule of law, was officially launched at the end of August and registered with the IEC in September.

Later that month, the electoral commission rejected the registration of the party based on a “perceived similarity” with another political party, Party of Action SA, which has never contested elections before despite registering, and the use of the SA flag in the logo.

ActionSA, appealed the decision. On the issue of the use of the SA flag, Mashaba said the IEC upheld the party’s appeal, but not on the issue of the similarity of the logo and name.  

Mashaba’s party has its sights set on participating in the 2021 local government elections. However, if ActionSA is not able to register as a political party with the IEC, it will not be eligible to contest. 

Mashaba said the party was shocked by the IEC’s decision and the basis on which it rationalised its decision to reject the appeal.

He said the IEC, in their reasons for the rejection, relied heavily on a study conducted into voters and elections, despite the same study stating that the report “does not allow for generalisation to the broader public”.

The study cited this because it involved 91 interviews and eight focus groups, which the study itself recognised was not statistically representative, Mashaba said.

He said the IEC relied on generalisations made in the report such as reasonable voters’ ability to discern subtle differences, and stated that: “Discerning subtle differences in the names and logos of political parties will escape many reasonable voters.”

“What is also rather remarkable in the decision to dismiss the appeal, the IEC accepted that they used to register political parties with similar logos but because there were fewer political parties this was acceptable to them. The IEC stated that: ‘In the past, when few political parties sought registration, the CEO [chief electoral officer] could afford to be generous in the exercise of the discretion to register them,’” Mashaba said.

He said ActionSA’s offer, made in its appeal, that the party’s marketing team present a “professional perspective” on the differences between the logos, and the inconsistencies with other logos previously registered, was not taken up.

“We are of the view that any effort to alter the logo would likely produce the similar problem precisely because there are over 600 political parties, a situation caused by the IEC’s failure to deregister parties (in accordance with its own regulations) that are not represented and do not contest general elections,” Mashaba said.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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