ActionSA has taken the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to court after its name was omitted from the ward ballot papers after it left the space requiring an abbreviated name empty when registering.

ActionSA has argued that its name does fit the technical description of eight characters and therefore does not need an abbreviated name on the paper.

While making submissions to the Electoral Court on Thursday Morning on the urgent application to force the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to add its name on the ward ballot papers, the commission stated that the party chose not to register its abbreviated name and should not expect the IEC to interfere with that.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said it could not rectify the matter with the elections just over a week away and said it could not make de facto decisions reviewing its rules just for one political party.

The IEC said its requirement for an abbreviated name of political parties for the ward ballot was nothing unusual and no one ever complained about the rule before.

The IEC said ActionSA’s challenge against the design of the ballot must fail as their decision was lawful and constitutional.

IEC lawyer advocate Michael Bishop said: “What is really at the heart of this case is that the applicant seeks differential treatment from the commission. So, it accepts that the commission was entitled to use only abbreviated names for most parties, and it must be so because the full names would not fit. But it argues that, because its full name is only eight letters long, it should be treated differently.”

The party argued that it would be prejudiced at the polls should the IEC not be ordered to reflect its full name on the ward ballot papers.

The IEC has urged the court not to rule on the matter, but rather request Herman Mashaba’s party to allow the municipal elections to go ahead, and rather lodge an ex post facto (after the fact) application should the omission of the name prove to have affected the party in the polls.

“The commission also lacks the capacity to comply with such an order [that compels it to reprint ward ballot paper to use stickers or stamps to add the omitted ActionSA name],” said advocate Michael Bishop who represents the IEC in the matter.

ActionSA said the decision was unconstitutional and unlawful, and given the degree of new party entrants in the political fray, it was important for ActionSA’s name to appear in full.