Constitutional Court Ruling Limits ACT Party's Chances in South African Elections

South Africa's Constitutional Court rejects African Congress for Transformation (ACT) party's appeal to register candidates in six provinces due to technical issues with the electoral commission's online platform. The ruling hinders ACT's chances of securing National Assembly seats in the upcoming May 29 elections.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Constitutional Court Ruling Limits ACT Party's Chances in South African Elections

Constitutional Court Ruling Limits ACT Party's Chances in South African Elections

The African Congress for Transformation (ACT) party, led by Ace Magashule, faces an uphill battle in securing National Assembly seats in the upcoming South African elections on May 29, 2024. The Constitutional Court handed down a judgment on Friday that hinders ACT's chances in six provinces, excluding Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape.

Why this matters: This ruling has significant implications for the country's political landscape, as it may affect the representation of certain regions and interests in the National Assembly. The outcome may also influence the overall dynamics of the election, potentially impacting the balance of power in South Africa.

The ruling means ACT will lose the ability to get regional votes from their supporters in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, North West, and Northern Cape, making it harder for them to obtain National Assembly seats. ACT is only on the regional ballot in the Western Cape, despite contesting provincial legislatures in the other five affected provinces.

Analyst Michael Atkins explained, "ACT are on the national ballot, but the only regional ballot they are on is the Western Cape. However, they are contesting provincial legislatures in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, North West and Northern Cape."

The Constitutional Court rejected ACT's final attempt to register their candidates, citing technical issues with the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa's (IEC) digital submission platform. The court also rejected similar appeals from the Labour Party and the Afrikan Alliance of Social Democrats (SASD).

ACT spokesperson Mohau Khumalo stated, "ACT does not see this as a setback as our campaign will continue as usual without any changes. However, we are aware of false media reports that deliberately seek to mislead the public about the outcome of the verdict." Khumalo also confirmed, "We will contest the provincial elections in six provinces – (in all) except Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape."

The Constitutional Court ruling comes after ACT and the other parties blamed the IEC's online portal for malfunctioning, causing them to miss the deadline for submitting required signatures. The IEC opposed the applications, stating that granting relief would compromise their ability to deliver free and fair elections on May 29.

The Labour Party needed clarification on the court's decision and felt that the court chose a simple path by not addressing the main points of their case. Advocate Chris Loxton of the Labour Party argued, "There are frequent references to a handful or a very small minority of parties who were unable to upload their documents in time, that the vast majority of those who were required to do so did so successfully. That's just untrue. 35% failure rate is not a small minority and a 65% is not a vast majority."

The Constitutional Court will provide explanations for its decisions at a later date. Despite the setback, ACT national spokesperson Prince Mabena affirmed the party's commitment to participating in the elections, stating, "We were not going to plead with the IEC if we're not on the ballot." The Electoral Court had previously sided with the IEC, indicating that evidence showed the Online Candidate Nomination System was operational without any problems during the crucial submission period.

Key Takeaways

  • African Congress for Transformation (ACT) faces uphill battle in securing National Assembly seats in 2024 South African elections.
  • Constitutional Court ruling hinders ACT's chances in 6 provinces, excluding Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Western Cape.
  • ACT only on regional ballot in Western Cape, despite contesting provincial legislatures in 5 other affected provinces.
  • Court rejected ACT's appeal due to technical issues with IEC's digital submission platform.
  • ACT to continue campaign, contesting provincial elections in 6 provinces, despite setback.