Pretoria - Residents in Pretoria yesterday expressed mixed views during the public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill, which seeks to allow independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs hosted the hearing in Hammanskraal to solicit public views on the introduction of independent candidates in the general election.
In June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 was unconstitutional for prohibiting independent candidates from participating in the national elections.
Committee chairperson Steve Chabane said the court directed Parliament to correct that anomaly within 24 months.
Yesterday’s hearing marked the last leg of the exercise in Gauteng, after the committee had already been in West Rand District and the City of Ekurhuleni.
The hearing was attended by members of political parties, non-governmental organisations and community members.
The EFF reiterated its stance against the Electoral Amendment Bill, saying it would not strengthen democracy. Regional party chairperson Obakeng Ramabodu said: “As the EFF we don’t support the bill. We are of the view that as a country, administratively and otherwise, we are not ready for this bill.
“There is nothing democratic about this bill. In fact, this bill is going to make sure that those who want to infiltrate the system get in there. I am talking about those who have money and can control individuals because they are not accountable to anyone. But because we respect the law we will respect the decision of the Constitutional Court.”
He said the EFF proposed that, in the event that independent candidates were allowed to contest elections as MPs, “they must at least have 20 000 people who guarantee that they are going to vote for them”.
He said those supporting the candidates must be registered voters who must be verified by the Electoral Commission of SA.
One SA Movement Pretoria co-ordinator Douw Meyers bemoaned the fact that the current electoral system “has created a two-tier system in South Africa with the line between party leadership and corporate South Africa blurred”.
He was disappointed that a career in party leadership nowadays promised riches with no accountability.
“The only way to ensure public accountability is to introduce independent candidates in the political landscape,” Meyers said. According to him, the IEC should not place deposits as one of the requirements for registering candidates who want to contest elections, saying the move would only marginalise the poor.
Local resident Thembeka Ncube was against the introduction of independent candidates, saying the country was grappling with the presence of too many political parties.
She said that independent candidates often resulted from divisions within political parties, and that allowing them to contest elections would promote factionalism in parties.
“My request is that independent candidates should be limited to local government, and they shouldn’t be opened up to higher spheres of government,” she said.
Another resident, Teboho Chakedi, said that under the current electoral system politicians were often found wanting in terms of service delivery.
“I think independent candidates can come with changes. I believe that the independent candidates will also do what we want because we would have the right to remove them if they are not serving us,” he said.