Leader of Build One South Africa (BOSA), Mmusi Maimane, says the process to bring about a new electoral system was manipulated by the ANC and supporting political parties in Parliament.
He says a strong, open system would weaken their power.
The Constitutional Court dismissed an application by BOSA and the Independent Candidates Association seeking to declare the Electoral Amendment Act unconstitutional.
The Apex court ruled that the act meets constitutional muster, which will ultimately be the legislation that governs next year’s hotly contested general elections.
The court also ruled that independent candidates will only need 1 000 signatures to contest the 2024 general elections.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the new bill in April, allowing independent candidates to contest general elections.
However, the two applicants challenged the constitutionality of independent candidates’ only being allowed to contest 200 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.
They argued that the act restricts the participation of the independents.
Maimane says it’s disappointing that the judgment favours the status quo dominated by old, stale political parties.
“New entrants and independent candidates face an uphill battle with the odds stacked against them. Individuals will lose out on the proportional vote, which can only be captured by a political party.
Therefore, our decision to form BOSA as a political party to benefit from proportionality has been vindicated and we will contest next year’s elections on that basis.”
Maimane has emphasised that the fight for independent candidates to be fairly accommodated is far from over.
“Following next year’s election, new BOSA MPs will take this issue to the floor of Parliament, standing with communities in demanding more accountable, direct representation in government.”
Maimane says a substantive electoral reform is urgent.
Founder of the Independent Candidates Association, Dr Michael Louis, says the Apex Court’s ruling has set the tone for electoral reform in the coming years.
“They’ve laid the foundation for an electoral act to govern us for the next five years.”
He says they will continue the fight in respect of democracy.
Meanwhile, the ANC says the ruling will allow the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to avoid any uncertainty in discharging its constitutional mandate of ensuring free and fair elections.
“We are pleased that the Independent Candidates’ Association South Africa’s application was unanimously dismissed vindicating Parliament which opposed the matter.”
The IEC says it will put in place the regulations necessary to give practical effect to revisions of the electoral system in light of the judgment.
In a statement, the electoral body says the Constitutional Court confirmed an important part that contestants in the regional tier of the elections are subject to the same number of votes per seat.
Furthermore, no votes of independents are to be transferred to political parties.
The IEC says it will now finalise adjustments to the signature requirements portal, so that prospective independent candidates and unrepresented parties can start collecting and capturing.
Written by: Lindiwe Mpanza