Parliament, Friday, 18 March 2022 – A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has completed the first of three legs of the Eastern Cape public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill, with the residents of Qonce impressing upon the committee that the Bill is a necessary aid to ensure that South Africa’s democracy functions optimally. The committee is conducting nationwide public hearings to gather the public’s views on the Bill.
There was widespread agreement that the inclusion of independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections will ensure accountability and improved service delivery. Participants also said that independent candidates supported by the people will aid service delivery and ensure that the gains of the democratic process are enjoyed by everyone and not just a select few. To ensure accountability, the civic movement must be reenergised to ensure that politicians are held accountable, residents also said.
Those supporting the Bill also made the case for a recall clause so that the community can recall a representative who is not performing. They also said that the process to amend the Act should not inadvertently create the impression that the electoral system since 1994 has been unreliable. The credibility of the electoral process should not be undermined. This amendment process is simply enhancing the democratic process, they said; thus, a complete overhaul is neither necessary nor obligatory. Participants highlighted that representative democracy has increased inclusiveness, particularly for women and the youth.
Residents raised concerns about the ability of independent candidates to raise election deposits. However, there were those supporting the Bill who said that independent candidates should be required to pay these deposits.
Despite the general agreement that the inclusion of independent candidates is necessary and timely, those opposing the Bill highlighted that while they support the intention of the Bill, they did not agree with the Bill in its current form. Some said that, with a few tweaks, the system currently used in local government should form the basis of the amendment. Others said that independent candidates should be financed to enable them to run viable election campaigns. Some participants also called for an overhaul of the entire political structure to create a constituency-based system to ensure accountability.
The committee welcomed the views presented during the public hearings and is confident that the hearings have been fair, inclusive and meaningful. The committee further emphasised that its current work is primarily to listen to every view and that all submissions are considered equally.
Today the committee moves to Cradock for the second scheduled public hearings in the Eastern Cape. The committee invites all individuals and interested organisations to come and make inputs on the Bill, to ensure that the final product is reflective of their will and aspirations. The committee recognises that these hearings happen while the risks posed by Covid-19 continue. Covid regulations will be implemented to ensure the safety of all participants.
Details of the hearings
Date: Friday, 18 March 2022
Venue: Nomsa France Hall, Cradock
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE LEADER OF DELEGATION OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HOME AFFAIRS, MR BRANDON PILLAY.
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