Two options for the amendment of Electoral Act to comply with legal conditions
Share this article:
Cape Town - The Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), which was established by Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has presented two options for the possible amendment of the Electoral Act.
The Cabinet recently approved a report that would allow independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections.
In June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that independent candidates could contest both elections to be MPs and MPLs, and not be restricted to local government level only.
The apex court gave Parliament two years to fix the electoral laws to allow independent candidates to contest elections at national and provincial levels.
Motsoaledi told Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs about concerns of patronage politics being exacerbated should independent candidates contest national and local government elections.
Option 1, presented by the minority report, suggested that the slightly modified multi-member constituency (MMC) accommodates independents, but requires relatively minimal changes to the constitution. This option, Motsoaledi said, favoured inserting independents into the existing electoral system, enabling independents to compete with political parties for votes.
He explained that the current composition of seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures would remain unchanged. The NA would comprise the 200 regional seats and 200 compensatory seats.
Under option 2, the majority report recommended the single-member constituency option which favours introducing single member constituencies, “with proportionality secured via party lists. Here, independents would stand as individuals in constituencies and compete together with associates for the party-list vote.
This option involves electing MPs from 200 single-member constituencies and the remainder from a single national, multi-member constituency.
“Voters would vote for a single MP to represent them in single-member constituencies (their first vote), and for a party to represent them in the single national, multi-member constituency based on competing closed party lists (their second vote),” Motsoaledi explained.
Chairperson of the committee Mosa Chabane noted the presence of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in the meeting, but advised fellow MPs that they were not participants in the meeting and suggested that the commission report to the committee at a later stage based on the presentation by the department.
ANC MP Tidimalo Legwase said that the presentation by the department was informative, but raised concerns that Parliament only had six months left to meet the ConCourt’s deadline.
IFP MP Liezel van der Merwe supported Legwase’s concerns about the time constraints, especially with Parliament going into recess. “When we return in February next year, we will only have four months left to finalise this amendment bill,” Van der Merwe said.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota was, however, of the view that the ConCourt had given Parliament more than enough time to consider the matter.