SA's electoral system is ripe for radical change, OSA tells Parliament

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A voter casts her ballot at a polling station at the Johannesburg Muslim School in Newtown.
A voter casts her ballot at a polling station at the Johannesburg Muslim School in Newtown.
Luca Sola, AFP
  • One South Africa Movement says the time is ripe for electoral reform in South Africa.
  • OSA spokesperson Mudzuli Rakhivhane says the nation should move from "a snail's pace to speed rail".
  • Parliament's Home Affairs Committee heard public submissions on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

South Africa's current electoral system was never intended to last this long - and it is suffering from low levels of accountability, slow levels of policymaking, and low-quality representation.

This is according to Mmusi Maimane's One South Africa Movement (OSA), who are at the forefront of electoral reform for the nation.

On Tuesday, Parliament's Home Affairs Committee heard public submissions on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

READ | What happens if an independent MP resigns or dies? Parly hears concerns about Electoral Amendment Bill

Part of the bill only allows 200 national-to-national parliamentary seats to be allocated to independent candidates - and, if an independent candidate dies or resigns while in office, their seats will not be filled for the remainder of the term.

OSA spokesperson Mudzuli Rakhivhane told the committee the current electoral system was more than ripe for change.

"We must move from a snail's pace to speed rail. This is what the people of South Africa deserve. We urge you to put the choice to the people of South Africa. That is what true democracy requires," she said.

In its submission, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said there was an urgent need to ensure amendments of electoral legislation, so that it could implement it in time for the 2024 general elections.

READ | New political era: DA reaps the rewards as opposition parties kick ANC to the curb

"The National Assembly should pass the Electoral Amendment Bill by September 2022 and National Council of Provinces by June 2023 to give space for presidential assent, gazetting and IEC readiness by September 2023. This would give time for political parties and independents wanting to contest to commence preparations by September 2023," Cosatu's submission reads.

In June 2020, a Constitutional Court ruling declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

The New Nation Movement (NNM) launched a bid to allow an independent candidate to run for office in general elections and challenged the current Electoral Act 73 of 1998, arguing that 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.

The Constitutional Court found that channelling individuals to stand as candidates only through political parties was unconstitutional as it was a negation of political rights guaranteed under Section 19 of the Constitution.

READ | Electoral Amendment Bill: MPs have four months to meet ConCourt deadline

Furthermore, the court held Section 1(d), in that the founding provisions of the Constitution must be interpreted to denounce a one-party system of governance and not to sanction an exclusive party PR system.

The apex court ordered that Parliament should correct the act.

The judgment was suspended for 24 months for Parliament to amend the legislation.

In its submission, the Inclusive Society Institute said that single-seat constituencies ensure accountability.

"Large swathes of the country are dominated by a single party," it said.


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