Constitutional Court says Electoral Act invalid: radical changes will have to be made

11 June 2020 - 12:41 By ERNEST MABUZA
The Constitutional Court has declared that the Electoral Act is invalid because candidates can only be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures through membership of political parties. File photo.
The Constitutional Court has declared that the Electoral Act is invalid because candidates can only be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures through membership of political parties. File photo.
Image: NICOLENE OLCKERS/GALLO IMAGES

The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) is ready to help parliament to review the electoral system after a landmark Constitutional Court judgment on Thursday.

The apex court ruled that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional.

This means independent candidates will in future be able to stand for national and provincial elections without any affiliation to a political party.

Chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the IEC was ready to assist parliament with a review as necessitated by the judgment.

Mamabolo said the judgment would have serious operational implications for the IEC as well as the infrastructure that had been built up over the years.

“The whole electoral system will have to come under review given this decision. We have to invest in new systems because our internal systems have always been predicated on delivering an electoral system based on a party list.”

Mamablo said a new wave of investment would have to be made in the electoral system.

The court declared that section 19 of the Electoral Act was unconstitutional to the extent that it required adult citizens to only be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures through their membership of political parties.

However, the court said the declaration of unconstitutional invalidity of the act was effective from the date of the latest order. It suspended the order for two years to give parliament time to remedy the defect.

The matter reached the court last year after the high court in Cape Town dismissed an application by the New Nation Movement, the Indigenous First Nation Advocacy SA and Chantal Revelle.

Revelle and the organisations wanted the high court to declare that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it omitted to regulate the positions of individuals standing for election at national and provincial level as independent candidates.

The current system allows people to be elected as public representatives on a party ticket only.

They also sought an order directing parliament to take all necessary steps to resolve these matters “as soon as possible”.


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