MPs want more time to consider policy options on independent candidates judgment

Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission, Glen Mashinini.
Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission, Glen Mashinini.
Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Netwerk24
  • The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has said it stands ready to assist Parliament in implementing a Constitutional Court judgment around independent candidates.
  • The IEC presented several policy options to implement the judgment to Parliament's Home Affairs Committee.
  • The judgment is suspended for 24 months for Parliament to amend the legislation.

The Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) has thrown the ball in Parliament's court to consider policy options to implement the Constitutional Court judgment on the participation of independent candidates in national and provincial elections.

Last month, the court declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional following the New Nation Movement's (NNM) bid to allow an independent candidate to run for elections.

The organisation challenged the current Electoral Act 73 of 1998, arguing it infringed on the right to exercise individual political choices.

The NNM wanted the act to be amended to allow independent candidates to run in provincial and national elections.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini and his executive team presented several policy options to Parliament's Home Affairs Committee during a virtual sitting on Tuesday night.

"In reflecting on these various electoral systems in use around the world today, we would have to balance, as a country, the elements and characteristics of this system against our own constitutional principles and our unique social, political, economic, historic, cultural and other conditions," he said.

READ | Constitutional Court rules Electoral Act is unconstitutional, opens way for independent candidates

"We continue to stand available to support the committee. Parliament must give a firm direction," Mashinini added.

Comparing singular systems and multi-winner systems, IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo said at times it made sense to elect just one person in instances where there was a single position.

"However, when electing a legislative body, there is a real decision to make between using single-winner and multi-winner districts. Choice of electoral system has profound consequences," he added.

But mixed systems - which combine single-winner and winner-take-all elements with multi-winner proportional elements - are increasingly popular.

"Many consider them to be 'the best of both worlds' because they maintain the link between constituencies and representatives in single-winner districts, while embracing proportionality," he added.

ALSO READ | Outa joins ConCourt bid to change electoral system to allow independent candidates to run

MPs were unanimous in their calls to consider the policy options individually and among their constituencies.

ANC MP Richard Dyanti said the options would be helpful in determining the best way forward.

"This is food for thought for us [the committee]. We need to approach this as South Africans, not as party this and party that. We want to protect the IEC from becoming player and referee in this matter because we can see they are being carefully here. Let the committee take this matter forward. Let's have a symposium and bring experts in and decide the way forward," he added.

EFF MP Mgcini Tshwaku said with independent candidates already allowed to contest local government elections, there were possibilities for the same to be applied in national and provincial elections.

"There should be a way that we can see a way of allowing this," he added.

Cope MP Mosiuoa Lekota said: "We need more time to deal with this. We need to find a way to publish this to all committees. We need this to reflect on these options properly".

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