What's in a name? Quite a bit, says IEC

The law prohibits the registration of political parties whose names or logos are so similar to those of other parties that they may confuse voters, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said on Friday.

The African National Congress (ANC) had reportedly written to the IEC, asking it to protect the party’s name amid threats by former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota to form a breakaway party.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) reported on Friday that the names being bandied about for the new party included ANC-1912, ANC-Democratic Front and ANC-SA.

The ANC could not confirm whether such a letter had been sent to the IEC.

The IEC would not confirm receiving such a letter either, when asked in writing by the South African Press Association (Sapa).

However, IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela reportedly told the SABC the letter had been received and “is currently being dealt with within the IEC”. She also told the national broadcaster she could not “divulge the contents of the ANC’s letter”.

After insisting that Sapa submit its questions to the IEC in writing, Bapela issued a terse response that quoted the Electoral Commissions Act.

She said any party aggrieved by a decision on a registration can appeal to the IEC within 30 days of being notified of the decision.

In considering the appeal, the IEC considers the fact that the party which has been associated with the name the longest should be entitled to it.

Bapela said a party applying for registration has to publish a notice of its intention to do so.

“This affords other interested parties the opportunity to object to the registration of the applying party,” she said.—Sapa

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