ConCourt's landmark ruling on independent candidates welcomed
Johannesburg - Parliament has been given 24 months by the Constitutional Court to align the Electoral Act with the Constitution after it was found to be unconstitutional for not allowing individuals to directly contest elections at provincial and national levels.
The landmark ruling, which was triggered by a court challenge of the New Nation Movement (NNM) and Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa, will now see independent candidates contesting for representation in provincial legislatures and the National Assembly.
The organisations argued that the party political system imposed by the Act had unjustly denied constituencies to directly choose individuals to represent them when they did not want to vote for political parties.
The NNM welcomed the judgment as it would enhance the country’s democracy.
Indigenous First Nation Advocacy South Africa chairperson Anthony Phillip Williams said the ruling had given power back to the people from dominant political parties which were running amok .
“People can now put into political office accountable leaders that can account to the people and ensure that we don’t have these runs around and rogue elements that we currently have,” Williams said.
The organisations unsuccessfully tried to have last year’s general elections postponed as they wanted the matter to be finalised and for independent candidates to be allowed to contest.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said the invalidity of the Electoral Act would not be retrospective and that it would also be suspended for two years to allow time for the necessary legislative changes to the Act.
“It is fitting to suspend the declaration to afford parliament the opportunity to correct the defect,” Justice Madlanga said.
Several leaders of opposition parties and other organisations attended the ruling, including Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, former DA leader and One SA leader Mmusi Maimane.