South Africa’s Electoral Act declared unconstitutional – must allow independent candidates to contest elections

South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the country’s Electoral Act is unconstitutional as it does not provide for adult citizens to be elected to the National and Provincial Legislatures as independent candidates.

The Electoral Act 73 of 1998 currently only allows political parties to contest in the country’s national and provincial elections.

In a judgement handed down on Thursday (11 June), Constitutional Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga said that he could conceive no reason that the limitation is justified. For this reason, the electoral act is unconstitutional, and the appeal must succeed, he said.

The case was brought by civil society group the New Nation Movement, which argued that the act it infringes on the right to exercise individual political choices.

“A conscious choice not to form or join a political party is as much of a political choice as is the choice to form or join a political party, and must equally be deserving of Constitutional protection,” Madlanga said.

“Once an adult citizen is forced to exercise the S19 (3) (b) right to stand for public office through a political party, that diverts her or him of the very choice guaranteed to him not to join or form a political party. That cannot be.”

The court has suspended the judgement for 24 months to give the parliament time to make the necessary amendments.

You can watch the full judgement below.


Read: ANC wants to make changes to South Africa’s elections – what you need to know

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South Africa’s Electoral Act declared unconstitutional – must allow independent candidates to contest elections