Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips African News Agency (ANA) Archives

ConCourt judgment gives Parliament chance to 'fix a broken' political system - Maimane and Mashaba

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jun 11, 2020

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Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court judgment allowing independent candidates to contest for national and provincial elections has been welcomed with some politicians saying this was an opportune time for electoral reform. 

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and former Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba have both hailed the judgment and have called for Parliament to use the opportunity to “fix a broken” political system. 

The apex court found that certain parts of the Electoral Act, which only allowed candidates to stand for political positions through political parties, was unconstitutional. The court has given Parliament up to two years to fix the law.  

The matter was brought by the New Nation Movement along with other interested parties including Chantel Dawn Revell, a representative of the Khoi and San communities. The group had lost at the High Court in 2019 and were appealing the ruling at the Constitutional Court. 

Mashaba, who left the DA in 2019 and plans to launch a political party through his platform People’s Dialogue, said the ruling was the perfect opportunity for Parliament to change the electoral system. He said Parliament cannot just change the sections that deal with independent candidates and that to give it weight they would need to pave the way for a mixed electoral system. 

He said currently even if independent candidates were allowed they would likely be forced to share their votes gained with other political parties that did not earn the votes. 

“Parliament must amend the Electoral Act to provide for a mixed electoral system, providing for at least half of the 400 seats to be directly elected through constituencies. This would allow for a situation, for the first time in democratic South Africa, where voters could hold individual members of Parliament accountable for their performance and their voting records,” Mashaba said on Thursday following the Constitutional Court judgment. 

He said the problem now was that political parties were against being held accountable directly by voters and would probably fight to keep the system in place.
 
“The problem lies with members of Parliament, and our current political parties, being vehemently opposed to any form of direct accountability. The fallout they would experience from any form of direct accountability would be disastrous for them, given the poor calibre of candidates that political parties put forward to represent the people of South Africa,” Mashaba said.

Maimane also expressed similar views tweeting to his followers; “If you are feeling abused by your party, you now have options”.

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