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By Stephen Tau

Journalist


South Africans are looking for a real alternative, not another political party

The Electoral Amendment Bill continues to be a talking point among many South Africans, including former DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.


South Africa’s Electoral Amendment Bill continues to be a talking point among many. Among those taking part in the discussion, is former DA leader, Mmusi Maimane.

The Constitutional Court recently granted Parliament a six-month extension of the deadline to amend the Electoral Act, to allow independent candidates to stand in national and provincial elections.

In June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that “the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 is unconstitutional to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties”.

The One South Africa Movement led by Maimane has been in the forefront, calling for the Electoral Act to be changed, so that more independent candidates can take part in the provincial and national elections.

Speaking to The Citizen, Maimane said this is arguably the single most important piece of legislation put before Parliament since the dawn of democracy.

He said the country’s system of politics and governance is suffering from low levels of accountability, slow levels of policy making, and from low quality representation.

“The people of South Africa know that this electoral system is more than ripe for change.

“Therefore, it is a task that ought to be undertaken sincerely, soberly and seriously,” said Maimane.

He said the purpose of the new law is to remove the tight stranglehold political parties have on our country and give communities back their power to elect, direct and if need be, fire those in government.

Meanwhile, political analyst – Professor Dirk Kotze said the impact the new law could have on political parties, in theory, can be enormous.

“Because it would mean that the new law proposes 50% of all members of the Nasional Assembly, must be independent candidates.

“However, that doesn’t mean all of them are independent because in terms of the current dispensation of 400 in total, means that 200 can be persons who are completely independent with no political ties with any of the political parties, or individuals who were nominated through political parties,” Kotze said.

He said it will all depend on the dynamics of the 2024 election as to how many of the 200 will be completely independent.

Kotze stressed that the new law would not mean taking political parties completely out of the picture or that they are going to play a much smaller role .

“It will all depend on how many people will vote for independent candidates,” he said.

How important is the change to the Electoral Act?

“For those who are in favour of the idea of independent candidates, it is a breakthrough and I think it is something that has been coming a long time because many members of the public feel that many of the political parties are way too dominant and there needs to be more independents,” Kotze said.

He added that members of the public also feel that there’s a need for independent canditates who will be more directly responsible for the interests of citizens.

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