Political parties still divided on having independent candidates in Parliament

Constitutional Court granted Parliament a six-month extension to finalise the Electoral Amendment Act, which opens the door for independent candidates to take on political parties in national and provincial elections.

FILE: A National Assembly hybrid plenary sitting in line with COVID-19 regulations on 27 August 2020. Picture: @ParliamentofRSA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - It seems political parties are still pretty much divided on whether independent candidates should be allowed to compete for a seat in Parliament.

This as the Constitutional Court granted Parliament a six-month extension to finalise the Electoral Amendment Act, which opens the door for independent candidates to take on political parties in national and provincial elections.

It's now up to MPs to agree on the amendment to make the December deadline.

The electoral changes will usher in a new era in South African politics where parties will not only run against each other, but they'll also compete with independent candidates.

But MPs in the Home Affairs portfolio committee are not all in agreement that independents should be allowed to contest in any province they choose.

African National Congress (ANC) MP Kavilan Pillay said an independent should only be allowed to contest in one region.

"I would propose that it remains the way it is currently so that a candidate is allowed to contest only in one region and that could be in a way that the candidate resides or where the candidate chooses to reside."

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Liesl van der Merwe has a different opinion.

"I feel very strongly that if political parties are able to compete or participate across the country then so should independent candidates."

Parties will now have to find common ground before the December deadline and in time for the 2024 election.