New election laws coming for South Africa ahead of 2024 vote

 ·3 Aug 2023

The Electoral Commission(IEC) has opened several regulations that will support the recently-passed Electoral Amendment Bill for public comment.

The largest change in the Electoral Amendment Bill – signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June 2023 – allowed independent candidates to run for positions in the National Assembly and provincial legislature.

This followed a court case that said it was unconstitutional to bar people not aligned with a political party from running for National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

Other amendments in the bill included:

  • The requirements which must be met by persons who wish to be nominated as independent candidates;
  • The inspection of copies of lists of independent candidates and accompanying documents;
  • Provision for objections to independent candidates;
  • The inclusion of a list of independent candidates entitled to contest elections;
  • Requirement for the appointment of agents by independent candidates;
  • Obligation for independent candidates to abide by the Electoral Code of Conduct;
  • A revised formula for the allocation of seats and their re-allocation in the event of vacated seats; and
  • Stipulation for the Minister to establish the Electoral Reform Consultation Panel.

The IEC has now released a series of draft regulations for public comment, which it says is a sequel to the promulgation of the Electoral Amendment Act.

The six new draft regulations are as follows:

Amendment to the election regulations

The IEC said that these regulations are intended to simplify the procedures for South Africans voting by special votes outside of the country.

They also state that voters who want to vote in voting stations in which they are not registered must give a prior indication of their intention to do so by a date that is specified in the election timetable.

This means that a request of this nature cannot be made at a voting station on election day.

Amendment to the voter registration regulations

These amendments allow for the provision of online registration modalities for possible votes in South Africa and those living outside of the country.

It also clarifies what particulars must be entered on the voter’s roll.

Amendment to the regulations relating to activities permissible outside voting stations on voting day

This amendment widens the scope of application to include independent candidates and their agents.

Amendment to the regulations for the registering of political parties

This amendment allows for the registration of a party to be done via an online application.

It also states that party information is protected under the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

Additionally, it explains that a party’s distinguishing symbol registered with the IEC is used on a ballot paper.

Amendments to the regulations on party liaison committees

Continuing with the broad theme of the amendments, this change aims to extend the application of the regulation to independent candidates and their representatives.

They will also facilitate the representation of independent candidates in Political Liaison Committees (PLCs). 

Amendment to the regulation concerning the submission of candidates

These regulations aim to facilitate the nomination procedure for independent candidates.

Sections 27(3)(a) and 31B(3)(b) of the Act state that political parties and independent candidates must deposit amounts to be prescribed by the IEC if they want to run in the elections.

The draft regulations also contain the proposed amounts to be paid as election deposits for both political parties and independent candidates.

“The legitimate purpose for levying a deposit is to minimise frivolity and to establish contestants who are earnest in their participation. This, in turn, enables the Commision to make proper arrangements for the exercise of the right to stand for public office,” the IEC said.

Below are the proposed amounts for running in the elections:

The IEC said that the last change to deposit amounts was in 2014, and the new amounts are adjusted for inflation.

The deadline for public comments on the aforementioned regulations is Sunday, 27 August 2023.

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