Elections to go ahead as case into independent candidates postponed

The ConCourt has found that the applicants failed to show urgency in the matter of whether South Africans have the right to run for national and provincial elections independently.

FILE: A voting station sign was put up at the Capital Hill primary school in Pretoria during voter registration on 6 March 2016. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Constitutional Court has postponed the matter regarding independent candidates to 15 August this year.

The New Nation Movement, Chantal Dawn and others made an urgent application to the apex court asking that it heard their submissions seeking to set aside as unconstitutional and invalid the Electoral Act's silence on the regulation of individuals’ ability to stand for election.

The parties want to appeal against an April decision of the Western Cape High Court which dismissed a similar case.

The Constitutional Court’s decision to postpone the matter meant that the applicants who hoped to contest the elections next week will have to miss out on this year’s polls.

The court found that the applicants had failed to show urgency in the matter and, therefore, the case of whether South Africans hadthe right to run for national and provincial elections independent from a political party would only be heard in three months’ time - after the national elections.

The applicants warned the court that its delay in settling the matter had led to a constitutional crisis.

Making their argument, Advocate Alan Nelson SC said the country’s elections, which are held under the proportional representation system, were not free and fair as they excluded the participation of independent candidates.

Lawyers for the government and the Independent Electoral Commission argued that the application was not in the interest of justice – agreeing that it could be postponed to August – as close to 45 million South Africans had an interest in the elections taking place timeously.

South Africans will be taking to the polls next Wednesday, with elections held last weekend in over 100 foreign missions across the world.