The historic Constitutional Court judgment which allows independent candidates to run for office in the provincial and national elections was largely lauded by political figures who were at court on Thursday.
Former DA leader and founder of One South Africa movement Mmusi Maimane, said this would change the political landscape dramatically.
Maimane said rather than only parties wanting to run a national election, the country was going to see campaigns becoming more regionalised, bringing elections to the people.
“Politics has to radically change. No longer do we get dictated by one party or two parties. Citizens can stand up and this is the change that generations who went to Robben Island fought for, this is the change that future generations now will stand for, when individuals in this country can only express their right as to who they want to elect that can stand for public office.”
He added: “Our politics will change and I believe this will bring change for our country.”
The Constitutional Court declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional. In his judgment, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga ruled that parliament should amend the Electoral Act within 24 months.
Madlanga said proportionality did not equal exclusive party proportional representation.
The judgment paves the way for independent candidates to stand for elections in national and provincial elections.
This comes after the New Nation Movement’s (NNM) went to court for an order allowing independent candidates to run for elections. It challenged the Electoral Act 73 of 1998, arguing that it infringed on the right to exercise individual political choices.The NNM wanted the Electoral Act to be amended to allow independent candidates to run in provincial and national elections.
NNM leader Bulelani Mkhohliswa said the landmark judgment brought back the power to the people. He acknowledged that the judgment would not close gaps in the political system of the country, adding that core of all the challenges was the incumbent.
“The key thing is go back to community and say to people who are already servicing communities with a proven record, people of character and integrity, people that are competent, these are the people that must emerge from those communities.
“When those candidates are captured, they must be held accountable by communities. They must have the power to be recalled. It must be clear the seat is not a personal seat but it’s for the community. Once you want to jump ship from an independent candidate to join a political party, go as yourself. The seat must remain for the community, the community must elect someone else to replace you,” he said.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said: “We can say now with confidence that whatever else may (have) gone wrong, the people of this country with full political power will be able to correct on a good cause and South Africa will make this the best nation around the world.”
Former Johannesburg mayor and founder of The People’s Dialogue, Herman Mashaba, said the relevance of the judgment lay in its ability to pave the way for electoral reform.
“The problem lies with members of parliament, and our current political parties, being vehemently opposed to any form of direct accountability. The fallout they would experience from any form of direct accountability would be disastrous for them, given the poor calibre of candidates that political parties put forward to represent the people of South Africa,” Mashaba said.