A draft bill that aims to amend relevant electoral legislation in order to allow independent candidates to stand for public office in provincial and national elections is in the pipeline.
The Draft Electoral Laws Amendment Bill was drafted by Mosiuoa Lekota, a Congress of the People member of parliament.
The plan is to table the private member’s bill in parliament during the first quarter of 2019.
The draft bill’s explanatory summary was published in Government Gazette 42095.
According to the explanatory summary, the Electoral Act currently does not provide for candidates to contest provincial or national elections independent of a political party.
Only political parties are able to contest elections at this stage.
The explanatory summary emphasizes that section 19(3)(b) of the Constitution stipulates that “every adult citizen has the right to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office.”
The draft bill will, inter alia, seek to amend:
• the Electoral Commission Act, 1996 (Act No. 51 of 1996), so as to provide for, and to regulate, independent candidacy;
• the Electoral Act, 1998 (Act No. 73 of 1998), so as to, inter alia, give full effect to section 19(3)(b) of the Constitution, which provides that every South African citizen has the fundamental right to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office; to ensure that individuals can stand for office as independent candidates without having to stand for office by virtue of his or her membership of a political party; and to promote democratic governance and electoral accountability; and
• any other relevant legislation so as to provide for independent candidates to participate in election broadcasts and political advertisements on an equitable basis with political parties; to provide for independent candidates to receive financial and administrative assistance to enable them to perform their functions effectively; and to provide for related and other consequential matters.
Written comment on the proposed content of the draft bill is invited until 21 January 2019.