Electoral Commission joins alarm calls: Concourt ruling on election case is urgent

The Commission had required finality by mid-September to avoid materially prejudicing its preparations for 2024 elections

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Photo of an election booth

The Electoral Commission has added its voice to growing concern over the Constitutional Court’s failure to deliver a crucial judgment which will determine how independent candidates can contest the 2024 elections. Archive photo: Masixole Feni

The Electoral Commission has added its voice to growing concern over the Constitutional Court’s failure to deliver a crucial judgment which will determine how independent candidates can contest the 2024 general elections.

GroundUp reported earlier this week on a letter sent to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo by activist Zackie Achmat, who has announced his intention to contest the election as an independent, in which he cautioned that the failure to hand down the ruling could jeopardise the election process.

Now the Commission, which was party to the litigation and had made submissions regarding practicalities and would ultimately abide by the court’s decision, also says the situation is urgent.

In a letter to the registrar of the Constitutional Court dated 28 November, Electoral Commission (EC) attorney Moeti Kanyane said that in its papers and oral argument the commission had underscored the need for finality by mid-September to avoid materially prejudicing its election preparations.

“The Commission understands that this may be a difficult case in which judgment should not be rushed. However, given the looming constitutional window period for the 2024 general elections and the Commission’s preparations for those elections (which may need to be altered depending on the court’s decision) the significance of an urgent determination of the issues that arise cannot be overstated,” said Kanyane.

Requesting that the letter be brought to the attention of Chief Justice Zondo, Kanyane said the Commission needed to know when the judgment or even an order with reasons to follow could be expected.

Achmat, in his letter, also proposed that a ruling could be given with reasons to follow.

Arguments in the matter were heard in August.

Two applications were brought and then consolidated, challenging the Electoral Amendment Act, which for the first time allows independent candidates to stand for office.

However, it was argued that the Act was unconstitutional, because it unfairly restricts the participation of independent candidates in the elections and their representation in the National Assembly. Independent candidates would require more votes to obtain a seat than political party candidates.

The application was opposed by Parliament and the Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Office of the Chief Justice has not yet responded to a request for comment sent on Monday by GroundUp.

TOPICS:  Court Election 2024

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