Electoral reform has been at the forefront of major debates leading up to the National Elections of 2024, marking 30 years of democracy in South Africa. However, reforming the electoral system has been on the national agenda for the past two decades. Central to this discussion is the degree to which low levels of political accountability are a result of our electoral architecture, or if the system is not the root of the problem. 

The two most prominent government-led processes that considered options for electoral reform are the van Zyl Slabbert Commission report (2003) and the Ministerial Advisory Committee report (2021). Ultimately, substantive recommendations in both reports were never implemented and our electoral system remains largely (with the exception of the recent inclusion of independent candidates) unchanged since 1994. The 2020 Constitutional Court ruling included a crucial clause that has once again opened the opportunity for electoral reform. 

In 2020, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that found the Electoral Act to be unconstitutional for failing to provide for independents to contest provincial and national elections. When the Electoral Act was amended to remedy this defect in 2023, a crucial clause was included that has once again opened the opportunity for electoral reform. The Electoral Amendment Act, 2023 (Act No. 1 of 2023) requires the Minister of Home Affairs, in consultation with the Electoral Commission, to appoint an Electoral Reform Consultation Panel. Appointment to the panel is subject to the approval of the National Assembly. and in accordance with the criteria specified in section 23(9)(a) of the Amendment Act. The functions of the panel are to independently investigate, consult on, report on and make recommendations on the potential reforms of the electoral system for the election of the National Assembly and Provincial legislatures in respect to the pre and -post 2024 Elections. These processes continue to be delayed by the Minister, ultimately delaying the work that the consultative reform panel is meant to have embarked on prior to the 2024 elections towards electoral reform. 

It is against this background that My Vote Counts is undertaking the process of establishing a Civil Society Electoral Reform Panel which will be a civil society led effort towards electoral reform, increasing accountability and deepening democracy. The Civil Society Electoral Reform Panel will embark on a parallel process to that of the Electoral Reform Consultation Panel which will be appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs. The panel will consist of both appointed and nominated individuals and/or civil society organisation representatives with known extensive knowledge, background and experience of electoral systems and/or democracy. 

MVC calls for the public nominations of any interested parties for the three remaining vacant positions on the Civil Society Electoral Reform Panel. Nominated individuals/civil society organisation representatives must possess the following qualities: 

  • A passionate and dedicated individual committed to deepening democracy and fostering civic participation within society. With a profound belief in the principles of inclusivity, transparency, and social justice 
  • Electoral experience and may include demonstrated/applied knowledge of electoral systems; experience in electoral administrations; and Knowledge of electoral legislative frameworks). 
  • Constitutional Legal Framework (Demonstrated understanding of the Constitutional and National legislative imperatives relevant to electoral systems). 
  • People who demonstrated a willingness to explore options and solutions rather than hold fixed views in relation to democratic systems and electoral systems 
  • People who; are influential and/or thought leaders on electoral matters and/or democracy, foster collaborative work, able to strategically use their networks to effectively communicate on the campaign/agreed upon advocacy messages and be a change catalyst 
  • People who do not hold elected political office in any political party. 

All nominations, along with a 300-word motivation must be submitted by 12 April 2024, to the following email address: Boikanyo@myvotecounts.org.za.  

Any enquiries related to the establishment of the Civil Society Electoral Reform Panel must be addressed to: 

  1. Boikanyo Moloto (Political Systems Researcher): boikanyo@myvotecounts.org.za
  2. Minhaj Jeenah (Executive Director): minhaj@myvotecounts.org.za