IEC Rejection of ActionSA Application Will Not Stop Us

Yesterday, 28 September 2020, ActionSA was informed by the IEC that it had rejected our application for registration as a political party. This follows our lodging of our registration documentation earlier this month.

The IEC’s decision is based on a perceived similarity with another political party and the use of the South African flag in our logo. We have already written to the IEC, initiating our right to appeal their decision as a result of its incorrect applications of the law.

We regard the IEC to have acted irrationally in their decision. We submit that our identifying features remain sufficiently different from the Party of Action (POA), a political party that has never contested elections before despite registering. As a matter of fact, POA changed their name on social media platforms the day after the launch of ActionSA to Party of Action SA – seemingly to make their case for similarity.

We note that no such exercise in IEC authority was demonstrated when the African Independent Congress was allowed to register despite its far greater similarities to the ANC, as well as many other cases that we will include in our appeal.

It is a fact that there are over 630 political parties in South Africa, of various registration statuses. The notion that similarities exist is a natural consequence of this situation, but cannot be seen to rise to the required level of “voters not being able to notice the distinction…” The IEC’s decision in this matter is regrettable, and inconsistent.

The IEC also raises the issue of the use of the South African flag in respect of The Heraldry Act of 1962. It is important to note that the IEC, as a Chapter 9 Institution, has no legal authority to decline an application outside of its specific parameters of section 16 of the Electoral Commission Act of 1996, which deals specifically with a political party’s identity either 1) being similar to that of another party to the extent that it would confuse voters or 2) engendering violence through hate speech. By including this in the rationale for their decision, the IEC has applied legislation to ActionSA that has not been applied to any number of political parties whose logo’s draw inspiration from the South African flag. This is a clear case of the IEC acting beyond its legal mandate.

ActionSA has instructed its legal teams to file an appeal and, if necessary, proceed to court in order to defend its legitimate registration. Our logo is derived from The People’s Dialogue, a process in which millions of South Africans legitimised the formation of ActionSA. We have filed a trademark application with the Registrar of Trademarks and we will defend the identity of ActionSA without hesitation. 

We are disappointed by the position of the IEC, and trust that it will come around to make the correct decision in the appeal process without this matter having to proceed to court.