On 17 April 2023, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Electoral Amendment Act 1 of 2023. The Act amends South Africa’s Electoral Act of 1998 to allow independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections, thus giving effect to a Constitutional Court judgment handed down in June 2020. The Act also requires the Minister of Home Affairs to establish an Electoral Reform Consultation Panel to make non-binding recommendations on future electoral reforms.
This comes after long delays which required Parliament to seek two extensions from the Constitutional Court after missing the initial deadline to address the issues identified in the June 2020 judgement.
The President described the Act as “a significant milestone in the evolution of our democracy” and a “development that can only enrich and sustain our growing constitutional democracy.” Yet the Act has attracted significant criticism from some quarters of civil society, who support allowing independent candidates to contest elections but who are concerned that the Act may not be constitutional. A key point of concern raised in Parliamentary submissions on the Bill is that it puts high barriers to entry for independent candidates to take part in elections, and favours larger parties over individual candidates.
A group of civil society organisations reportedly intend to challenge the Act in the Constitutional Court.
- The Electoral Amendment Act of 2022 is available here.
- The President’s statement on the Electoral Amendment Act is available here.
- A briefing by OUTA on criticisms of the Act is available here.
Please note: The information contained in this note is for general guidance on matters of interest and does not constitute legal advice. For any enquiries, please contact us at [email protected].