The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Electoral Court setting aside the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision on the DA’s statement that Minister Patricia De Lille was “fired” from the Party.
In April, the IEC ruled that the DA’s comment was “false” and issued a directive that the Party not only “cease and desist” from making such comments, but that the DA apologises.
The Electoral Court found that the IEC had no power or authority to adjudicate this matter nor did it have the power to issue remedial action. Further to this, the judgement found that the statement was permissible in terms of free speech and therefore did not have any bearing on the outcome of the election itself.
The Electoral Court ruling now sets an important precedent for the future conduct of the IEC.
Throughout the election period, the IEC conducted itself in an inconsistent and lethargic manner when dealing with complaints brought to its attention, despite prima facie evidence of violations of the Code of Conduct by political parties.
The IEC’s primary mandate is to ensure free and fair elections. It is therefore essential that the Commission at all times ensures that it conducts its business without fear or favour and is careful not to allow itself to be used as a political football or to be perceived to be partial.
The judgement can be obtained here.