Our politicians can’t use their conscience

2017-10-15 06:18
Omry Makgoale

Omry Makgoale

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No conscience can be accommodated under the current electoral laws in South Africa, be it at municipal level or at parliamentary level.

The recent expulsion of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) chief whip Simanga Mthombeni and his five colleagues in Mogale City for voting in support of an ANC motion against the DA lays bare the insignificance of individual accountability of politicians to South African voters.

The party HQ instructions must be followed, right or wrong. The conscience of individual politicians is not tolerated. This attitude turns politicians into stooges or robots, as the only way for politicians to survive in the council chambers or in parliament is to tow the party line. Do as the party leader says, or you get fired.

This echoes the 2015 explusion of EFF members of Parliament, led by Mpho Ramakatsa, and their subsequent removal from parliament. The truth is they were in parliament at the mercy of the party leader Julius Malema.

Under the current electoral laws of 100% proportional representation, it is a party dictatorship. You either toe the line as per the party leader or you are booted out.

There is no democracy in this system. It is an electoral law that breeds dictators and despots and turns politicians into robots, stooges and puppets of the party HQ. This law must be discarded.

Without constituencies and specific wards for politicians in the electoral law, there will be no guarantees of individual accountability of politicians. Without accountability, there is no way to stop rampant corruption, state sponsored crime and fraudulent activities.

In the National Assembly, EFF leaders mobilised ANC MPs to vote with them to oust President Jacob Zuma. This was on the basis of their conscience and against their own party’s instructions. But the same EFF does not tolerate such conscience-driven action in Mogale City when it is done by their own members. Is this not hypocrisy?

Party leaders are virtual dictators

According to EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu they have taken a conscious decision that the ANC has failed the people of South Africa for 22 years. As such, the EFF must not support the ANC or vote with them in municipalities or in Parliament. But then the EFF expelled the six councillors who voted with the ANC in Mogale City. So much for consistency and principle from the EFF.

One thing is clear: Under the current electoral laws, there is no voting by conscience in politics. If you do, it is at your own risk. It is the same for all political parties in the country. Party leaders are virtual dictators.

Consider the report by JP Landman into the ANC branch membership figures that were recently released by Luthuli House. By Landman’s analysis, the figures show that the “less populated, inland rural provinces have shown growth in the number of delegates, some considerably so”. ANC membership in North West has grown such that the province will have 129% more branch delegates at the national elective conference in December than in it did in 2012. This translates into greater influence over the ANC in the next Parliament.

Delegates from Mpumalanga have increased by 57.6% and from Free State 26.23%. Put together, delegates from North West, Mpumalanga, Free State, Limpopo and Northern Cape – five rural provinces with only a single metro between them (Mangaung) – will make up 53.33% of delegates to the ANC elective conference. They will have the power to decide on the next cohort of ANC MPs. In contrast, writes Landman, “Only 32% of the country’s population live in those five provinces.”

By the same process, Gauteng and Western Cape will be given even less influence over the country’s future as a result of South Africa’s crazy electoral system. These two provinces now have 36.8% of the country’s population, and are the two provinces “where in-migration is the strongest”. At the ANC’s December conference both provinces will only have 15.5% of delegates each – which is even less than what they brought in the 2012 conference.

This is anti-democracy. It is a recipe for fraud, corruption and oppression. Is it a surprise that a councillor from northern KwaZulu-Natal reported last month that 4 000 illegal ANC membership cards had been discovered bearing a fake stamp from the Zululand region? He said the fake members were linked to “certain branches” of the ANC Youth League.

Last week The Witness newspaper reported that hundreds of ANC membership cards in Richmond in northern KwaZulu-Natal had been “flagged as being fraudulent”. An anonymous ANC source – who was kept secret by the paper due to rising political murders in the province – told the newspaper that fraudulent membership cards were used to influence the outcomes of the branch general meetings which selected councillor candidates.

They would have come in handy for the “captures” during the upcoming ANC conferences, the source said.

When will we wake up and reform our crooked electoral system? The only sane and safe alternative is for electoral reform, bringing politicians under the control of voters, not party bosses.

Makgoale is an ANC rank and file member

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  politics  |  eff

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