South Africa: Independent Candidates Seek Right to Contest Elections

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 26-Apr-2019

The list of candidates contesting elections could change should the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) uphold an application to have independent candidates allowed to contest elections.

As it stands, there are 48 political parties approved to contest the general elections on May 8, but this number could climb dramatically if the court rules in favour of New Nation Movement.

The ConCourt issued a directive informing the respondents – the IEC, the president of SA, minister of home affairs, speaker of the National Assembly and the chair of the National Council of Provinces – that the matter is set down for May 2 and that they need to file their responding affidavits and arguments by Monday. The argument New Nation Movement has brought forward challenges sections 57A of the Electoral Act of 1998, which it believes is unconstitutional.

“The [Electoral] Act 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 … other than through political party lists, is unconstitutional and invalid,” New Nation Movement said.

The IEC said “in accordance with the directions issued by the Constitutional Court, it would file its answering affidavit tomorrow (today)”.

The office of the state attorney, representing the president, minister of home affairs and the speaker, said its belief was that “there are no prospects of success” in the case and would file the same arguments it filed in Western Cape High Court where the matter was first heard in March. Judgment was handed down this month.

Although it is unlikely that the ConCourt would rule that the date of the general elections be changed, it is likely that it might tell the IEC to open up the list of those contesting elections should the applicants be successful.

The IEC would not be drawn into commenting about the matter.

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