Parliament, Saturday, 19 March 2022 – Residents of Cradock in the Eastern Cape informed a delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs that the Electoral Amendment Bill is long overdue and will ensure that the people indeed govern as per the spirit of the Constitution.
With general support for the Bill, the residents highlighted that the Bill will lead to heightened competition which is desirable in a democratic dispensation. The participants emphasised that service delivery to the community is central and that should always be the guiding force within government structures, which they hoped the Bill will unlock.
Despite the support, residents urged the committee to revisit the clause relating to vacancies that might arise midterm. Participants called for balance and fairness because the Bill as it currently stands is unfair to independent candidates as a vacancy caused by the unavailability of an independent candidate can only be filled at the end of the term while political parties are allowed to nominate a replacement. Participants suggested that this will leave communities unrepresented which is both unconstitutional and unfair.
There was also a call for fairness regarding funding for independent candidates. The view was that political parties will have an unfair advantage to win elections as they have the financial muscle to campaign. The non-funding of independent candidates was considered to be exclusionary and defeats the spirit of the Bill.
Some participants also called for the threshold to be revisited in respect of the allocation for a seat. The view was that the threshold should not be exceedingly high leading to the exclusion of independent candidates.
Those opposed to the Bill underscored that the Electoral Amendment Bill is not the solution that was envisioned by the Constitutional Court judgment. The view expressed was that South Africa was facing an existential threat with a system of governance that has not brought freedom or prosperity to many South Africans. There was also a view that there are various solutions, including the Van Zyl Slabbert report and the Lekota Bill, that would have provided the necessary solutions aimed at taking the country forward.
Today the committee moves to Gqeberha for the last scheduled public hearing 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 is cognisant that these hearings happen while the country continues to face the risks posed by Covid-19. Covid regulations will be implemented to ensure the safety of all participants.
Details of the hearings
Date: Saturday, 19 March 2022
Venue: Nangoza Jebe Hall, Gqeberha
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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