Thursday, 11 June 2020 16:24

 

The Electoral Commission has noted the judgment of the Constitutional Court declaring parts of the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

The highest court in the land on Thursday ruled that the act was unconstitutional in requiring that only candidates of political parties contest national and provincial elections.

“The Electoral Commission welcomes the clarity the court has provided to the interpretation of the rights of citizens to stand for public office. We will study the judgment in detail to reflect on its full implications for the current electoral system and legislative framework governing national and provincial elections,” said Commission Chairperson, Glen Mashinini.

The commission said the timing of this judgment, and the Parliamentary review of the electoral system it prompts, is opportune given both the maturing of South Africa’s democracy and the looming impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on election processes around the world.

Judge Mbuyiseli Madlanga handed down the judgment.
 
“It is declared that the Electoral Act of 1998 is unconstitutional to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the national assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties. The declaration of unconstitutionality is prospective with effect as of the date of this order but its operation is suspended for 24 months to afford Parliament an opportunity to remedy the defect.”
 
The court has provided Parliament with 24 months to revise the legislation and the Electoral Commission stands ready to provide technical assistance into this process to help enhance the country’s electoral system. 

Meanwhile the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has welcomed the judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court that declares parts of the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

This had prevented people from standing as independents in the national and provincial legislatures.

The SAHRC said in a statement that the dominance of political parties in the process has until now, hindered the development of democracy in South Africa.

The commission also said many poor people who could not afford to pay for the establishment of a political party were excluded.