New Election Amendment Act Planned

Several civil society institutions have criticized the Election Amendment Act being processed by Parliament.

Chief executive officer of the Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) Darly Swanepoel said the bill as presented had a minimalist approach and the opportunity to push for more electoral reforms had been missed.

According to Swanepoel, there had to be an emergency system with multi-party representation with overall proportionality, which is reflected in the National Assembly.

He said ISI was proposing a new electoral system formed by a panel of experts that needed more focus on improving accountability and key sentiment in the country.

“A mixed constituency system, where 300 candidates would be elected nationally through 66 multi-member constituencies (MMC), consisting of three to seven members per MMC, and 100 members through compensatory proportional representation, which will be used to ensure to ensure overall proportionality in terms of the number of votes cast in the elections,” he said.

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“The MMCs would be based on the existing district and metropolitan municipal boundaries and the same concept will be applied at the provincial level. The Institute is convinced that the model it proposes offers the best balance between accountability and representation, with practicality and simplicity, while generally adhering to the constitutional requirement of proportionality.”

Swanepoel added that the ISI welcomed the introduction of the bill. Yesterday was the first day of oral submission to the Home Affairs portfolio committee on the bill. Parliament must approve the bill in June, following the instructions of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).

A spokesman for the South African Movement, Mudzuli Rakhivhane, criticized the committee for wasting time processing the bill.

She said it had been going at a “snail’s pace” for 18 months and now wanted ConCourt to give it more time to process the bill.

“Not only does the amendment bill in its current form fail to address the transformative opportunity, it has the potential to discourage people from voting,” she said.

“It adds yet another reason why people are not exercising their constitutional right to vote, rather than reforming our electoral laws in a way that gives the electorate new energy and franchise. This part of the bill has the potential to perpetuate inequality in society, where some votes matter and some don’t.”

Rachel Fischer of the Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) told the committee that the bill was problematic on a number of levels. She said Outa had discovered a lack of public participation in the process.

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