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IEC says it will apply the law if ANC 'war room' allegations are true

Jan 25, 2017
IEC says it will apply the law if ANC 'war room' allegations are true

The Electoral Commission on Wednesday said that it has noted media reports of an alleged “covert” communication campaign during 2016 Municipal Elections, which allegedly included the production and distribution of fake posters and other alleged misinformation tactics intended to discredit other parties or candidates.

The African National Congress (ANC) has come under fire after it allegedly used a "war room" that created a covert campaign‚ which enhanced the ANC’s presence on social media and undermined opposition parties by printing fake election posters and engaging social media influencers to discredit them - without revealing ANC involvement. The party apparently spent around R50 million on the campaign.

"The Electoral Commission has also noted that the political party implicated has strongly denied that there is any substance to these allegations," said the IEC in a statement.

"These claims are contained in sworn affidavits, which form part of an active civil court case and the Electoral Commission believes that this legal process should be allowed to be concluded and that it would be premature to comment on such allegations.

"Should circumstances require the Electoral Commission to take any further action it will not hesitate to discharge its duties and obligations."

However, the ANC has denied the allegations

"The ANC has noted and rejects, with the contempt they deserve, reports in the media that the organisation conducted or sought to conduct a 'R50m..covert campaign targeting opposition parties' during the 2016 Local Government Election," said National Spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa.

"We further reject any allegation that the organisation owes any monies to any companies purporting to run such clandestine campaign."

He said that the party was vindicated in this matter by the South Gauteng High Court, which dismissed the application with costs on Tuesday.

"The African National Congress has always been and remains committed to running clean campaigns in all the elections we have participated in since 1994. This is because of our utmost confidence in the superiority of the ideas of the ANC, working with our people, to improve their lives for the better," said Kodwa.

"We have always, and continue to rely on our undisputed track record in fundamentally changing the lives of our people and creating a South Africa much better today than it was in 1994, as the reason we win their hearts and minds in the electoral contest.

"That there is no credible opposition party in South Africa able to match the track record, experience and capability of the ANC provides further incentive to South Africans to continue to choose the ANC, knowing that its fundamental objective is the attainment of their aspirations. Accordingly, the ANC does not need nor has it ever engaged in any clandestine 'black ops' to woo voters."

He said that the ANC reiterates that Ms Sihle Bolani, Messrs Joseph Nkadimeng and Shaka Sisulu et al were not contracted or mandated by the ANC or any of its structures tasked with the communications work of the organisation in the 2016 Local Government Election.

"Their activities were not sanctioned by the ANC and consequently, we distance ourselves against any insinuation that any such campaign was known to or approved by the African National Congress."