Getting voters is not the same as gaining followers on social media, says Shivambu on Electoral Act

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, left, and EFF Commander-In-Chief Julius Malema briefing the media on the VBS Bank scandal in Johannesburg, 16 October 2018. Picture: ANA

EFF leader Julius Malema says a way must be found to practise at a national level independent candidates running for elections to strengthen the country’s democracy.

EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu on Thursday tweeted their reactions to the Constitutional Court’s judgment on the constitutionality of the Electoral Act.

On Thursday, the court declared the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 unconstitutional “to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the national assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties”.

The declaration, effective from Thursday, was suspended for 24 months to allow parliament “an opportunity to remedy the defect giving rise to the unconstitutionality”.

The minister of home affairs, the second respondent in the matter, was ordered to pay the costs of the four applicants, namely, the New Nation Movement NPC, Chantal Dawn Revell, GRO and Indigenous First Nation Advocacy SA PBO, both in the high court, where the matter was initially heard and dismissed and in the Constitutional Court, including the costs of two counsel.

The hashtag #electoralact was trending on Twitter by Thursday noon following the judgment in the morning.

Many, including politicians and former political leaders, tweeted their reactions and comments on the judgment.

Malema tweeted:  “Nothing new because we are already doing it at a local government level, we must just find a perfect way of practising it nationally to strengthen our democracy. By the way, in the last local government elections, independent candidates collectively garnered 341,214 votes.”

Shivambu tweeted: “Let’s welcome independent candidates to electoral politics in SA. Many will realise that convincing voters to vote for an agenda is not the same as gaining followers on social media. Let the independent candidates register and we will meet on the ground. Best wishes!”

Comments and reactions also came from former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, and former DA Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who both resigned from the main opposition party last year, as well as one of the party’s senior leaders in KZN, Mbali Ntuli.

Ntuli tweeted: “Excited by the Concourt judgment. Going to read it properly after these school visiting debriefings. At long last! This could change the nature of our politics and democracy.”

Mashaba, founder of The People’s Dialogue, said the “landmark judgment” by the court “paves the way for electoral reform”.

“In our view, for the Constitutional Court ruling to be given full expression, parliament must amend the Electoral Act to provide for a change to our electoral system. Parliament must amend the Electoral Act to provide for a mixed electoral system, providing for at least half of the 400 seats to be directly elected through constituencies.

“This would allow for a situation, for the first time in democratic South Africa, where voters could hold individual members of parliament accountable for their performance and their voting records,” Mashaba said in a statement.

Forum 4 Service Delivery (F4SD) said in a statement that it was “vindicated” by the ruling, following its march in October 2018 to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) head office, demanding, among others, that independent candidates should be allowed to stand for national and provincial elections.

The F4SD said the ruling “is a victory” for it and exposed “the inability of the government to interpret its own Constitution”.

“The IEC has clearly ignored advice from the F4SD and has referred the call for changes to the Electoral Act to parliament,” the statement reads.

The IEC said it welcomed the judgment and would study it in detail “to reflect on its full implications for the current electoral system and legislative framework”.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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