In a groundbreaking judgment today the Constitutional Court declared South Africa’s Electoral Act unconstitutional for requiring that candidates in national and provincial elections belong to political parties.
The judgment, which has been hailed by proponents of electoral reform as “a watershed moment for SA” and “the great reset”, gives Parliament 24 months to remedy the law to allow independents to contest elections in accordance with Section 19(3)b of the Constitution which states that every adult citizen of SA has the right to stand for election to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures and to hold office if elected.
Today’s victory in the application by New Nation Movement (NNM), Princess Chantal Revell of the First Nation people and two others was a culmination of four year’s of civil society activism by Kingdom-minded marketplace leaders with a dream of transferring political power from parties to the people. The applicants had waited 10 months for this day since the Constitutional Court reserved judgment in their appeal against an April 2019 Western Cape High Court ruling dismissing their application for the Electoral Ac to be declared unconstitutional.
The application was opposed by the Minister of Home Affairs (who was ordered to pay the applicants costs in the High Court and Constitutional Court), the Independent Electoral Commission, the President of South Africa and the Speaker of Parliament.
Bulelani Mkhohliswa, NNM national coordinator and executive director, mobilisation and operations told Gateway News there was an atmosphere of excitement and also of serenity this morning when Justice Mbuyiseli Russel Madlanga handed down the judgment in a courtroom with no more than 20 people in attendance due to Covid-19 regulations.
“But there was something deeper about it. Almost everyone there was a believer and for me there was a sense that God has heard the cries of His people. Like when He was talking to Moses in Exodus 3 — that was the kind of sense that we had.
“Yet we are under no illusion that the real work begins now because the issue is not just for independents to stand but to find the right people, of right character, who are competent and who have a proven track record of serving their community,” he said.
He said: “I think it is really from this place [of electoral reform] that we can start to build a new nation under God — a nation which all South Africans can feel proud of, where they can feel that they belong, where they can feel that they can contribute wholeheartedly.”
He said he hoped the judgment would encourage key groups to become part of SA’s solution — such as millions of young people who did not bother to vote in last year’s election, and the Christian majority whose voice has not been heard at the polls.
He said NNM will be rolling out a campaign to encourage communities to become part of a move to see power moved from the hands of a small political elite to communities by empowering citizens to make full use of what the Constitution allows and to take ownership and responsibility for their communties.
Dr Michael Louis, a Cape Town businessman, One South Africa Movement activist and a pioneer of the 4-year civil society legal activism for the right of independents to contest elections, said today’s Constitutional Court ruling was “a big victory for courageous civil society and the long-standing fight for giving power back to the people”.
“The judgment could not be more relevant and its timing is perfect in light of our experience with the overreach of Government powers in the past few months regarding the regulations relating to the Covid pandemic.,” he said.
At a virtual prayer meeting last night, he said that he was informed yesterday morning that the judgment on the Electoral Act case would be handed down in the Constitutional Court today.
He said it was amazing to get this news at this time following the healing and restoration campaign led by Chief Justice Mogoeng with 50 days of hope, healing and restoration prayers leading up to Pentecost Sunday.
He recalled that although he had been repeatedly asking God when he was going to come through for them in the court case, he had a peace in his heart about the matter after Pentecost.
“This is really the birthing of a new nation. This is the prayer of our hearts for many, many years. This is the great reset. And it is the God of ‘suddenlies’ who is going to come in when nobody expects something. We will see God usher in a new government,” he said