The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says it will wait for the court process to unfold in the war room allegations that have rocked the African National Congress (ANC) before intervening.
The IEC says it has noted the media reports but would not be commenting on the matter until the case has been finalised.
"The Electoral Commission 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," IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said.
Businessman Shaka Sisulu and ANC general manager Ignatius Jacobs have been fingered as allegedly running a covert campaign aimed at discrediting leaders of other parties. The party has been fielding questions after businesswoman Sihle Bolani approached the Johannesburg High Court to compel the organisation to pay her R2 million for work she did before the elections. She claimed she was part of a R50 million covert operation called the War Room to tweet and retweet messages, driving a smear campaign against the opposition parties leading to the 2016 municipal elections.
In her affidavit, Bolani said Sisulu and a businessman, Joseph Nkadimeng, were to provide the funds for the operation, which is said to have involved creating fake posters of Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema holding a gun. Bolani said she was approached by Nkadimeng for the project. She said after months of trying to get the party to settle the bill, party general manager Ignatius Jacobs agreed to pay her R1 million, which ultimately wasn't paid.
The party has distanced itself from the two and added that it did not authorise such a covert project. Sisulu has also said there is no truth to the allegations.
The electoral body said it has also noted the response by the ANC, and Bapela said commenting on the matter while it is still in court would be premature. The organisation will however be compelled to take action depending on the outcome of the court case and complaints brought forward by other parties.
"The Electoral Commission has also noted that the political party implicated has strongly denied that there is any substance to these allegations. 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," said Bapela.