File photo: African News Agency (Ana) Archives
Cape Town – No political parties have indicated they want to participate in a court case which challenges South Africa’s electoral system.

Non-partisan movement the New National Movement (NNM) and several others have approached the Western Cape High Court for an order declaring the Electoral Act unconstitutional and invalid, as it does not allow South Africans to both vote for and stand as independent candidates.

When the case began earlier this month, Judge Siraj Desai said political parties needed to be afforded an opportunity to choose to make representations. 

He postponed the matter to yesterday and ordered advocate Alan Nelson, for the NNM, to approach political parties to determine whether they wanted to be included in the proceedings. By yesterday, no party had indicated that they wanted to participate.

The Presidency, the Electoral Commission of SA and the Speaker of the National Assembly are among five respondents in the matter.

Yesterday, Nelson argued the wording of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution made provision for candidates to stand independently. 

He said it stated every citizen was free to make political choices, including the right to form a political party, to participate in the activities of (or recruit members for) a political party, and to campaign.

“We submit this is a watershed case, to bring peace and unity to South Africa,” Nelson said.

Advocate Steven Budlender, for the IEC, had argued that seeking an application before the imminent 2019 elections on May 8 would result in a constitutional crisis. The case was postponed to April 17 for judgment.

Cape Times