The first I heard about Mamphela Ramphele is that she wants electoral reform.
The basic argument was Constituent Representation versus Proportional Representation.
I've done some research and come out with a crude understanding of the differences between them. I'm not sure though which is better for this country, and am looking to start a discussion.
The Democratic Alliance also called for electoral reform, and so let's, for a moment, discuss a relatively simple but very important election issue.
South Africa currently works on proportional representation.
A political party registers with the IEC to run for seats in parliament. When the National Elections come along, we vote for parties. Seats in Parliament (the law-making body of the country) are distributed according to the ratios of party votes. So if the ANC gets 60% of the votes, they should get 60% of the seats.
The IEC simply tells each party how many seats they have and they fill the seats with whomever they choose. If the EFF were to win one seat then it would be the party's choice who will occupy the seat - not directly the choice of the voters.
May I remind you that Parliament are responsible for electing the President who is responsible for electing the Cabinet - and this whole executive branch (President and Cabinet) is responsible for carrying out Parliamentary decisions and running the country.
(Yes, the ANC could win next year and, together with the rest of the Assembly, elect anybody from Parliament - doesn't have to be Zuma - to be President).
Constituent Representation is the system used, most famously, in the United States.
Each constituency chooses a representative (or more than one) to represent them in Parliament. So you are electing individuals, but of course party politics still plays heavily. The only thing is that you can have a variety of people within a party one of whom is first chosen to represent the party before they go up against the other party (recall that they have primary elections where it's Republican individuals versus Republican individuals before it's party versus party).
In South Africa this would mean that the country might be divided into 400 constituencies or at least the equivalent of the total number of constituency seats adding up to 400 (bigger constituencies would have more seats).
This would mean something like the people of Kokstad choosing an individual (from whichever party) to go and represent them in Parliament. They would know his name and hopefully how to contact him, and the whole promise of Constituent Representation is greater accountability - if you are a die-hard ANC supporter but this fool is a disgrace to your constituency, you can recall him and elect another ANC person.
And the people elect their representatives, it's not the party management.
Now, obviously, the reason the opposition is looking at this is because they think it will help them win more seats (always be sceptical of politicians motives), but that's not a good reason for us not to consider the proposal.
And even ANC supporters should take these suggestions to heart - you love your party, well and good, but surely you agree that certain people really don't belong in certain posts, and wouldn't you rather elect somebody you know and trust to represent you instead of leaving it up to the ultra-rich and influential and well-surnamed individuals in the upper levels of the so-called Party of the People?
It seems like a good idea to me - Constituent Representation - but I haven't been able to poke some good holes in the system which means I probably haven't thought about it well enough.
I submit this now to the NEWS24 community for discussion in the hopes that some stellar points will be brought up as we go into this very decisive election year.
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