ConCourt bid to halt elections over independent candidates fails
Johannesburg - The urgent court bid to force postponement of the upcoming elections until independent candidates are allowed to run for office has failed at the Constitutional Court.
The New Nation Movement (NNM), a non-profit organisation fighting for inclusion of independent candidates in the ballot, was told by the apex court yesterday that it had failed to impress why the matter should be heard urgently.
Reading the order, Justice Edwin Cameron said: “The applicants have not succeeded in making out a case for an urgent hearing today.”
Allen Nelson SC, arguing for NNM, had told the court his clients sought an order amending the elections legislation before this year’s polls could happen.
Elections will be held on Wednesday.
The amendments should allow South Africans wishing to run for Parliament and provincial legislature seats as independent candidates to do so, said Nelson. Without these amendments, elections would not be free and fair, he said.
Nelson said the primary relief they sought was that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should include independent candidates in the ballot.
“If that can’t be done, postpone the elections,” he said.
“I’d suggest that you do have the power to postpone elections.”
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa could be ordered to reconstitute the dissolved Parliament, which could then amend the legislation within three months.
According to the Constitution, the country had until August to hold elections.
“We’re saying that the three months period is more than enough,” Nelson said.
Asked if the applicants held the view that past elections were not free and fair, Nelson retorted: “Absolutely. But we have to worry about the past elections. We’ve seen what they have done.”
He had earlier told the court the current political dispensation had brought ills such as state capture, which he said cost the State over a trillion rands.
Nazeer Cassim SC, for Home Affairs, told the court the matter did not have to be heard urgently.
It could be heard at a later date, he said. “The issue itself is a real issue. It must be debated in fullness.”
Steve Budlender SC, for the IEC, told court the applicants were seeking an “extraordinary relief” that would affect over 40million South Africans with an interest in the elections.
He said the applicants had previously elected to register a political party with the IEC, but that never happened.
“It’s a remedy they had and they elected to forego. It counts against them,” said Budlender.
“This is a case which should never have been brought to this forum in this manner.”
The Constitutional Court will hear the matter in August.