Big Constitutional Court case to decide whether independent candidates can run in South African elections

The Constitutional Court is set to hear arguments as to whether independent candidates should be allowed to contest the elections.

The case is being brought by a non-partisan organisation called the New Nation Movement and is currently slated to be heard on Thursday (2 May) – less than a week before the national elections on 8 May.

The matter had previously been heard in the Western Cape High Court in March but was dismissed with no costs.

However, the fact that the Constitutional Court has deemed it necessary to consider the application on an urgent basis ahead of the elections highlights the importance of the case, the New Nation Movement said in a statement.

“The applicants in the case argue that Section 57A and Schedule 1A of the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 are unconstitutional and invalid in that the Electoral Act does not provide for the constitutionally enshrined right of individuals to contest elections as independent candidates,” it said.

“Further, that failure of the Electoral Act to regulate the position of individuals who stand for election to the National Assembly or the provincial legislatures other than through political party lists is unconstitutional and invalid.”

The New Nation Movement said that while it is mindful of the importance of the coming elections, and that it has no desire to disrupt them, it is equally important that the elections take place in manner that is both free and fair and which complies with the Constitution.

“The intention from the outset was that these amendments would be implemented timeously and that the 2019 elections would allow for the participation of independent candidates,” it said.

“Due to no fault of the applicants this matter has been delayed and postponed over the course of the past two years and more, leaving no alternative at this late stage other than to seek urgent relief from the Constitutional Court.”

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Big Constitutional Court case to decide whether independent candidates can run in South African elections