Linda Gobodo of Vuka Africa Foundation briefs the media on the ruling of the Cape High Court in matter of the New Nation Movement and others vs the president, minister of Home Affairs, the IEC and the speaker of the National Assembly. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court will hear an application for leave to appeal in the matter on the rights of Independent candidates to contest elections. 

The chief justice has directed that the application be set for hearing on Thursday at 10am, six days before the country is due to go to the voting polls on 8 May.

"The case, in the matter of the New Nation Movement (NNM) NPC and others versus the President of the Republic of South Africa and others, was argued before Judge Desai in the Western Cape High Court on 27 March and judgment was handed down on 17 April," New Nation Movement spokesperson, Tshego Motaung said.

"The case was dismissed and consequently the New Nation Movement (NNM) brought an application to the Constitutional Court to appeal the judgment and seek relief on an urgent basis," he said.

"The fact that the Constitutional Court has deemed it necessary to consider the application for leave to appeal the ruling of the Western Cape High Court on an urgent basis is indicative of the court's view of how gravely important is the right of citizens to fully exercise their political rights, as enshrined in section 19 of the Constitution."

Applicants in the case argue that section 57A and schedule 1A of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 are unconstitutional and invalid because it does not provide for the constitutionally "enshrined right of individuals to contest elections as independent candidates; and further, that failure of the Electoral Act to regulate the position of individuals who stand for election to the National Assembly or the provincial legislatures other than through political party lists, is unconstitutional and invalid". 

The NNM, in support of its application for leave to appeal, says that while it is mindful of the importance of the coming elections and does not want to disrupt them, the issue is of equal importance.

NNM says it is important that the elections are free and fair, and that they comply with the Constitution.

"To this end the NNM commenced a long time ago with a number of interventions to ensure that due attention be given to the need for the Electoral Act to be amended and provision made for independent candidates to contest elections.

"The intention from the outset was that these amendments would be implemented timeously and that the 2019 elections would allow for the participation of independent candidates," the party said. 

"Due to no fault of the applicants this matter has been delayed and postponed over the course of the past two years and more, leaving no alternative at this late stage other than to seek urgent relief from the Constitutional Court."

African News Agency (ANA)