Floor crossing

2008-08-04 00:00

Political floor crossing will be a thing of the past once three bills are enacted. The system was introduced in 2001, ostensibly to allow parliamentarians to exercise individual conscience. In fact, it has been used by opportunists to advance their careers, while respect for political institutions has diminished as voters’ choices have been treated with contempt.

But simply abolishing this discredited system is not enough. If confidence is to be restored in South Africa’s political system, further reform is necessary. The list system based on crude proportional representation places too

great a distance between citizens and power and takes the country too close to a one-party state.

The hybrid system in operation at municipal level should be extended to national and provincial elections so that voters have a closer affinity with their representatives. Even better, all South Africans should have the chance to vote directly for their national president.

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