April 2023 | President Ramaphosa signs law permitting independent candidates to contest elections
On 17 April, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into law the Electoral Amendment Act, a piece of legislation that allows independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections. It gives effect to a 2020 Constitutional Court ruling that declared the Electoral Act’s bar on independent candidates to be unconstitutional. The Act also provides for the establishment of an Electoral Reform Consultation Panel to make recommendations on future electoral reform. The law was welcomed by South Africa’s Electoral Commission, which said that it provided the necessary legal certainty to prepare for the 2024 general elections. However, an opposition party and several civil society organisations have declared their intention to challenge the constitutionality of the Electoral Amendment Act in court, alleging that its provisions unfairly disadvantage independent candidates and make it impossible for them to compete equally against candidates from political parties.
November 2022 | Independent panel finds President Ramaphosa may have abused his powers
A report by an independent panel of legal experts commissioned by the National Assembly, has found that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa may have violated the constitution and anti-corruption laws by allegedly covering up the theft of large sums of money from his game farm in a scandal commonly referred to as ‘Farmgate’. Ramaphosa responded to the report (released on 30 November) by denying that he was guilty of any of the allegations made against him. The panel’s findings open up the possibility of impeachment proceedings being brought against the President by the National Assembly, the lower house of South Africa’s parliament, although legislators are not bound by the report. The commencement of such proceedings would require a simple majority in the National Assembly, where the President’s party, the African National Congress, holds 230 out of the 400 seats.