Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

ANC changes its stance on Electoral Amendment Bill

The governing party says it's prepared to listen to civil society organisations about their concerns with the draft legislation.

It appears the African National Congress (ANC) has had a change of stance over its support for the controversial Electoral Amendment Bill before Parliament.

Electoral Amendment Bill

The amendment bill is headed to the National Assembly (NA) for consideration after parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on Wednesday adopted its report on the bill.

It was anticipated that the legislation, meant to reform South Africa’s electoral laws to allow for independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections, would be passed in the NA due to the ANC’s majority in the house.

ALSO READ: Electoral Amendment Bill adopted – What happens now?

The country’s two biggest parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), do not support the bill in its current form.

Several civil society organisations, including Defend our Democracy and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, have also raised objections over the bill and called on MPs not to pass the legislation into law.

Civil society organisations have argued that the bill does not go far enough in allowing for a mixed electoral system, that makes provision for both a single-member constituency and a proportional representation (PR) system in order for voters to hold politicians accountable.

ANC has ‘a change of heart’

Speaking at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s annual lecture on Saturday, ANC veteran Snuki Zikalala said the governing party had changed its position on its support for the Electoral Amendment Bill.

Zikalala said he was sent by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to inform the gathering that the ANC doesn’t support the bill as it stands.

Zikalala said the party was prepared to listen to civil society organisations about their concerns with the draft legislation.

“The ANC as it stands now does not really support the amendment bill [and] it is prepared to engage with members of civil society because civil society is very important to the ANC.

“In our constitution, we make it very clear that people shall govern, and if we don’t listen to civil society, it means we’re a dictator to society and society will take us out immediately.”

Former Cabinet minister and anti-apartheid struggle veteran, Valli Moosa, was the keynote speaker at the foundation’s annual lecture on Saturday.

The event was held under the theme: ‘the people must govern’.

Zikalala, who is also the president of the ANC Veterans League, said he was speaking on behalf of Motsoaledi because the minister had to attend to other engagements in Limpopo.

“The ANC is committed to listening to its electorate [and] to listen to South African citizens, and to make amendments that are needed to ensure that society participates actively in governance,” he said.

Parliament has a tight deadline to complete its work on the bill and have it signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa by 10 December 2022.

This after the Constitutional Court in June granted the national legislature a six-month extension.

NOW READ: Electoral Amendment Bill remains a complex issue

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