South Africa’s Electoral Amendment Bill continues to be one topic of discussion among many. Among the participants in the discussion is the former leader of the DA, Mmusi Maimane.
The Constitutional Court recently granted Parliament a six-month extension of the deadline to amend the electoral law, in order to allow independent candidates to stand in national and provincial elections.
In June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled that “Electoral Law 73 of 1998 is unconstitutional insofar as it requires that adult citizens may only be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures by their membership in political parties “.
The One South Africa Movement led by Maimane has been at the forefront, calling for changes to the electoral law, so that more independent candidates can participate in provincial and national elections.
Talk to The citizenMaimane said it was arguably the most important legislation to come to parliament since the dawn of democracy.
He said the country’s political and governance system suffered from low levels of accountability, slow policy development and 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 must be undertaken sincerely, soberly and seriously,” Maimane said.
He said the purpose of the new law is to remove the tight grip of political parties on our country and to restore power to communities to elect, lead and, if necessary, fire members of government.
Meanwhile, political analyst – Professor Dirk Kotze said the impact the new law could have on political parties, in theory, can be huge.
“Because it would mean that the new law proposes that 50% of all members of the National Assembly must be independent candidates.
“However, that does not mean that they are all independent, because in terms of the current waiver of 400 in total, that means that 200 may be fully independent persons with no political ties to any of the political parties, or individuals who have been nominated by political parties,” Kotze said.
He said everything will depend on the dynamics of the 2024 elections as to how many of the 200 will be fully independent.
Mr. Kotze stressed that the new law would not mean that political parties would be completely excluded or that they would play a much lesser role.
“It will all depend on how many people vote for independent candidates,” he said.
What is the importance of the modification of the electoral law?
“For those who are in favor of the idea of independent candidates, this is a breakthrough and I think it is long overdue because many members of the public feel that many political parties are very too dominant and there needs to be more independence,” Kotze said.
He added that members of the public also believe there is a need for independent candidates who will be more directly accountable to the interests of citizens.