The Constitutional Court has made a ruling regarding the legal controversies surrounding the Electoral Amendment Act. The decision specifically addresses the inclusion of independent candidates in the forthcoming general elections. As per the court’s ruling, independent candidates seeking to participate in the 2024 general elections will be required to gather one thousand signatures. Additionally, the court upheld a provision in the Act related to the allocation of seats in the National Assembly. It dismissed concerns that the provision could impose a higher vote threshold for independent candidates compared to those from political parties.

By Staff Reporter

In a much-anticipated ruling, the Constitutional Court has issued its decision on the controversial Electoral Amendment Act, specifically addressing the inclusion of independent candidates in the forthcoming 2024 general elections.

Following the presentation of arguments in August, the court issued a ruling on Monday addressing the concerns raised by the IEC and independent candidate Zackie Achmat regarding the insufficient time available for the required election preparations.

The court has decided to eliminate the requirement for independent candidates to obtain the support of 15% of the constituents in their intended electoral district as a prerequisite for their eligibility to run in the forthcoming provincial and national elections in 2024.

The court delivered a ruling with a majority opinion indicating that a minimum of 1,000 signatures is required. Justice Jody Kollapen cautioned that the advancements made through the Electoral Amendment Act, allowing independent candidates to engage in elections, would be invalidated if Parliament introduced barriers.

In allusion to the prior ruling of the court, which facilitated the participation of independent candidates, Justice Kollapen characterized this as a significant milestone, noting the unprecedented nature of the signature requirement.

The justification for mandating a signature was to deter “frivolous election participation.” However, the legislature’s adoption of a quota system, utilizing provinces as constituencies, resulted in independent candidates and emerging parties being required to collect a significant number of signatures, ranging from 10,000 to 14,000.

The majority opinion concluded that this represented an unreasonable obstacle and imposed a significant workload on candidates, necessitating a substantial investment of time and effort.

“Why a signature requirement now when one was never needed before?” Justice Kollapen asked.

Kollapen explained that the imminent election left inadequate time to return the matter to Parliament for amending the Act. As a result, he instructed the addition of a new provision mandating 1,000 signatures through a “reading in” process.

In contrast, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo expressed a dissenting view, indicating that he would have dismissed the application brought by Mmusi Maimane and One South Africa Movement NPC, as it did not affect the rights of any specific individual.

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