Political parties have refocused their attention to their own election campaigns and are now awaiting the announcement for the next voter registration weekend and election date, after the Constitutional Court dismissed the challenge against the Electoral Amendment Act on Monday.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), political parties and independent candidates participating in the 2024 National and Provincial Elections waited with bated breath on the judgment that had the power to change the course of the election.
The dispute was brought by the Independent Candidates Association (ICA) and Build One South Africa (Bosa) who believed the playing fields were not levelled in the electoral process between independent candidates and candidates for parties.
In a statement issued by the Electoral Commission shortly after the judgment was handed down, it said the IEC would now finalise adjustments to the signature requirements portal, so that prospective independent candidates and unrepresented parties can start collecting and capturing.
The signature portal, as well as the final regulations, is expected to be launched soon.
The African National Congress (ANC) welcomed the ConCourt decision, saying the progressive judgment also avoided a possible delay of the elections and now paves a clear way for independent candidates and political parties to compete in the forthcoming elections.
The party said the ruling also allowed the IEC to avoid any uncertainty in discharging its constitutional mandate of ensuring free and fair elections.
The ANC also welcomed the apex court’s unanimous judgment which dismissed the ICA’s challenge of the 200/200 split of National Assembly seats.
“The ANC agrees with the judgement that the 200/200 split passed the reasonableness test because it was grounded in proportional representation and would have little risk of ‘overhang’. We are pleased that the ICA’s application was unanimously dismissed, vindicating Parliament which opposed the matter.
“The ANC will now focus on its election campaign encouraging South Africans to exercise their right to register to vote and on the ground mobilisation of our structures,” said ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), commended the Constitutional Court for swiftly addressing the challenge and ensuring that the electoral process remained on track.
DA spokesperson Werner Horn said in light of the court’s dismissal, it now called on the IEC to expedite the announcement of the next registration weekend, and urged the IEC to conclude its consultations with President Cyril Ramaphosa on the election date.
“Time is of the essence, and a prompt declaration is essential for maintaining the momentum generated during the initial registration period,” Horn said.
Horn also called on the IEC to actively facilitate voting for South Africans abroad and emphasised the importance of ensuring that the online voter registration portal for expatriates was fully functional.
“Enabling a smooth and accessible process for all eligible voters, including those residing outside the country, is fundamental to the democratic integrity of our electoral system,” he said.
The Electoral Commission said it was always of the view that the distribution of seats of the National Assembly between the compensatory tier and the regional tier was rational and satisfied the constitutional requirement for general proportionality.
“The important confirmation of the Constitutional Court is that the contestants in the regional tier of the elections are subject to the same number of votes per seat. Furthermore, that no votes of independents are to be transferred to political parties,” the IEC stated.