We need a new electoral system to transform SA - Mcebisi Jonas

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Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. (Gallo Images)
Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas. (Gallo Images)

Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas says South Africa needs a new electoral system to transform itself.

Jonas blamed the problems the country was facing, including corruption, on the electoral system and party politics.

He was addressing the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation under the theme "Defeating State Capture and Rebuilding State" in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

Jonas said the country was in crisis because of party politics, adding there was something fundamentally flawed with our electoral system.     

"You don't need to be a genius to realise that." 

Jonas made examples of how some chairpersons of parliament committees were appointed.

"The problem is, it starts with the flawed electoral system that we have. We need a national campaign to change the electoral system in this country, so we can enhance accountability, etc.

"We need to run a campaign. We need to make it a talk that it is problematic. Effectively, our system says our role is to vote for parties and parties can decide what they do.

"In fact, if they decide that they can deploy criminals so be it. We must run that campaign and run it as a national campaign and drive discourse and debates around that," he said. 

WATCH | Mcebisi Jonas to complete his testimony at #StateCaptureInquiry

"If Nasrec votes went the other way, where [would] we be?"

Without mentioning names, Jonas said many people did not realise that a few years ago the country had "funny creatures" in positions of power. 

"The only way to counter this is a creation of a strong and independent bureaucracy in levels of government. The issue about the state assuming character is so fundamentally important.

"… This is not only about ending the infestation of corruption, but about enduring and ensuring functionality of the state. The functionality of the state remains a problem. If we can't devise means of dealing with this, we will actually be doomed. 

"… We need to think through strategies for execution in a short term. [The] state is very difficult to transform by its very nature."

Going forward, Jonas said, there was a need to build a more robust civil society that would shift from a short- to long-term agenda.

"Civil society has the biggest potential to counter the politics of polarisation and the politics of fear. That's real in our economy. We are sitting here and don't realise how many South Africans are in hiding, seriously there are many who are in hiding.

"We need to think carefully about organising and co-ordinating civil society."

Jonas said there was a need to co-ordinate a process of setting a new national strategic narrative for the country.

"At the moment, if you think about it, we are a country with no national agenda. We are so fractious and there is no national agenda."

Programme of civic education

"… We need to rally for a co-ordinated programme of civic education. This is important. Citizens are always vulnerable to misinformation, what comes from social media, etc. People are misinformed on a consistent basis.

"We need to think how to run a national programme around civic education to educate people on the basis of what we stand for as a country and rebuild the concept of a South African nation that is actually being fragmented on a daily basis. In addition to this, we need to think about a couple of big campaigns," Jonas said.

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