South Africa

The ANC wants a tougher rating for independent election candidates and new parties

  • The ANC wants to make it harder for independent and new parties to participate in national and provincial elections.
  • The party is in favor of making minimal changes to the current PR system in the Voting Law Amendment Bill.
  • The party put its colors on the mast when a public hearing on the bill began in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

The ANC wants to make it harder for independent and new parties to run in national and provincial elections, as currently proposed by the Electoral Bill.

As the process of public participation in the bill began this week, the ANC put its colors on the mast and explained its position on the bill in a very long statement.

Under the guise of ensuring the “will of the people”, the ANC is proposing a stricter rating of independent candidates and new parties by preventing long ballots.

The bill a Judgment of the Constitutional Court in June 2020 in the New Nation Movement case. The verdict found the Electoral Act No. 73 of 1998 unconstitutional in that adult citizens should be elected to the National Assembly and the provincial legislature only on the basis of their political party membership.

While the resolution gave the National Assembly two years to amend the law, the parliament postponed the drafting of the law to the executive. The bill was approved by the Cabinet only at the end of last year.

Interior Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has appointed a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) chaired by former Minister Valli Moosa. The majority proposal of the MAC provided for a mixed single-member constituency and proportional representation (PR) system.

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Motsoaledi and his department took the minority council and drafted a bill that relied solely on a PR system and amended it as little as possible.

This was in line with the ANC’s political position.

“The ANC has always supported a system of proportional representation, as it is best suited to a country like ours in terms of race, class and language. This ensures that all political views in which more than a quarter of the population shares representation in parliament, and speaking on behalf of the constituency “, the ANC said in a statement.

“We have never supported going beyond the constituency system, as it is very difficult to achieve the same level of diverse representation if only one, or perhaps a handful, of people are selected to represent a given geographical area. Each geographical area has its own. levels of division.

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“The PR system has meant that even small parties with 0.25% of the vote will remain in parliament and speak in every legislature.”

The party also said the PR system had increased the representation of women, young people and other marginalized groups.

ANC supporters in Lamontville, Durban.

“We generally support it as the best solution for enforcing an order of the Constitutional Court. However, we have very serious concerns about the practicality of some of the proposals currently in the bill.”

Ballot papers

The ANC was concerned that the system proposed in the bill could lead to a very long, impractical vote.

“Ultimately, if voters find it difficult to vote and find the election they prefer on a ballot paper, the election will not reflect the will of the people. We need to review the conditions for running as an independent candidate and a new party. .

“We recommend that new parties that are not yet represented in the legislature or parliament, as well as independent candidates, be able to prove that they have voter support and some chance of winning a seat. We recommend that the threshold be at least one in the previous election. one third of the quota required for a mandate. “

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While the virtues of proportionality have been praised by the PR system, the ANC didn’t want too much of it either.

“It is possible that many small parties and non-attached Members may occupy key positions that maintain a balance of power in a legislature or parliament where no party reaches 50%.

“This is happening at the municipal level and often leads to unstable and transitional coalitions. It can be much worse than national and provincial government, where the government can be paralyzed by small parties with a small fraction of voters but capable of stable governance. It is impossible.”

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The ANC has proposed a two-step procedure where everyone who reaches the full quota required for one seat will receive a seat. The remaining seats can then be given to the parties with the most average votes.

“An independent obviously can only take one seat and his extra votes will be thrown away.

“Each party with more than one vote must add them to its aggregate mandate and divide it by the number of seats it has already won. The party with the highest average will get one remaining seat. This is the only way to maintain proportionality and prevent a a situation such as the current one, where many parties still have less than 0.25% support. “

Public hearings

Meanwhile, a public hearing on the bill began on Monday in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal.

“All participants in the public hearing at Richards Bay emphasized their support for the bill, although amendments address some of its shortcomings. One such shortcoming is that the bill does not explicitly define the mandate of provincial legislators. This element is explicitly stated by the national parliament. for.

“The bill currently proposes 400 seats in the National Assembly, of which 200 will be elected from nine provinces or regions (200 regional seats) and the remaining 200 will be compensatory mandates with which political parties will challenge,” the National Assembly said in a statement. .

“There are also concerns that the bill could have unintended consequences, especially for the representation of women. It has been argued that South Africa’s current patriarchal society could put women at a disadvantage, who are often poorer than men, by raising compulsory elections. deposit.

“This excludes them from struggling with the positions. The proposed remedy was that the bill specifically regulates the benefits for women and men.”

Further concerns have been raised that the bill in its current form may be unfair. This could lead to a situation where Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal occupy 50% of regional seats based on population and votes received.

Another committee delegation was in Thulamela, Limpopo.

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“While expressing support for the bill and the intention for citizens to run in national and provincial elections without political party membership, some residents have questioned the implementation of the new system,” the parliament said in a statement.

“Others have warned that the proposed changes to the electoral system could result in very long ballot papers, and multi – page voting could be a problem for both the Electoral Commission and voters, and voting could take several days.

“Some residents told the committee that the bill is long overdue and that parliament and provincial legislation should be set up in the same way as municipal councils, where independent candidates run in elections without political party membership.”

On Tuesday, the Home Affairs delegations of the Portfolio Committee were in Pietermaritzburg (KwaZulu-Natal) and Lenyenye (Limpopo).

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The ANC wants a tougher rating for independent election candidates and new parties

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