Cape Town - Western Cape politicians are in behind-the-scenes talks to increase the number of seats in the legislature – to better represent the province’s growing population.
The added MPLs could cost the public R13.7 million more than the R33.5m it is paying for 42 members.
An ordinary MPL can earn up to R860 787 a year, while a Speaker, committee chairpersons and whips can earn more than R1m.
Parties want the number of members from all parties to be increased by a maximum of 16. This would increase the number to 58.
Leader of the opposition Lynne Brown said the DA and ANC had been in “informal discussions” since October with the aim of amending the Western Cape constitution and increasing the number of MPLs before this year’s general elections.
Should the proposal be adopted, it would mean that all political parties would be allocated more seats in proportion to the number of votes they won.
The DA’s provincial deputy chairman, Theuns Botha, confirmed that the party approached the ANC last year about increasing the number of MPLs.
The need for more members arose out of the population growth in the Western Cape, Botha said. “The census showed the number of Western Cape residents grew from 4.2 million to 5.8m.”
The province’s constitution allocated one seat for every 100 000 residents.
“This would mean we should have 58 MPLs... That is maybe too much, so we may increase it to 50 or 52 members, but only if we have consensus from other parties.”
Botha said the plan was part of a series of amendments to the provincial constitution that the DA wanted to get through the legislature before this year’s elections.
“We need two-thirds support in the legislature to change the province’s constitution. We will do it only if we have agreement from the main opposition,” he said.
Said Brown: “They were supposed to come back to us with a more concrete proposal by November, but we were all so busy.”
Brown said a decision for the ANC to support such a move could not be made only by its MPLs. The ANC’s national executive committee would have to discuss it as the party was thinking of reducing the number of provinces.
The DA might have to lobby national leaders and other provinces for support.