Even before a single vote was cast, independent candidates across the country won a massive victory at the Constitutional Court on Monday.
The court has found invalid the previous requirement that independent candidates should first secure signatures of thousands of would-be voters to qualify to contest the elections.
Judge Jody Kollapen ruled that the threshold should be no more than 1,000 signatures across the board.
This is a huge improvement from the first draft of the law but remains a big ask for candidates in farmlands and rural areas with less population density compared to urban areas like Johannesburg.
With elections under 10 months away, the court acknowledged that there is no way to achieve complete fairness in the electoral laws.
It has given Parliament another 24 months to come up with a more reasonable and justifiable solution.
Justice Kollapen warned that the entrance requirements for independent candidates should not be a barrier against their participation in the democratic process.
“We must be cautious and guard against such a requirement becoming a barrier to contestation. In effect, the signature requirement, if left undisturbed, will render somewhat hollow the enormous promise that the new nation heralded in unlocking and giving effect to section 19 of the Constitution fully and properly.”
Before the ConCourt ruling, for an independent candidate based in the Eastern Cape to contest a seat in the National Assembly would have required an upfront backing of 11,656 people.
That’s 15% of the 77,713 votes that were required to secure a parliamentary constituency in the EC in the 2019 elections.
The required quotas as outlined in the Electoral Amendment Act differed by province.
In the Free State it was 11,314, Gauteng (13,819), KwaZulu-Natal (13,046), Limpopo (11,329), Mpumalanga (11,924), North West (10,652), Northern Cape (10,271) and the Western Cape (13,201).
Founder of Build One SA (Bosa) Mmusi Maimane, who brought the matter to the court, said it was an important first step towards a more fair electoral system.
Maimane said 34 independents would contest the elections under the umbrella of Bosa, adding that he was expecting more to join.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202312050144.html
Author : [email protected] (Scrolla)
Publish date : 2023-12-05 08:30:47