Dear all,

The possibilities & limits of electoral reform.
*There will be wine, snacks and insightful, if not entertaining remarks from our panelists.*

DATE: 22 May 2014

TIME: 17h30 for 18h00


PARKING: Street Parking free after 5pm.

We have the good fortune of having Jorgen Elklit here over the election period. Jorgen is the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Professor at UCT, attached to the Department of Political Studies. Professor Elklit was a member of the panel that Judge Goldstone established in 1993 to look into the challenges of the 1994 elections. Subsequently, he became one of the five international members of the Independent Electoral Commission, which in 1994 organised the country’s first democratic elections, where he was responsible for the implementation of the seat allocation system.
We also have well-know activist and civil society collaborator, Ebrahim Fakir. He writes on politics, the state, governance, democracy and development and is used as an analyst, commentator and facilitator by the national and international media, business and other organisations.

The hype and expectation in the build up to our fifth national and provincial elections, has now come and gone. While winning political parties are left dividing up their spoils in the allocation of seats, larger political questions remain. 20 years into South Africa’s democracy, serious fault lines have appeared, particularly in the ability of citizens to participate fully and meaningfully in our democracy, and hold elected officials to account.

Is it true that the current proportional representative system for national and provincial elections does not enable citizens to hold individuals to account? Is the current electoral system still suitable in order to address the specific socio-economic and political challenges that face our democracy twenty years on? What lessons have we learnt from the mixed system at a local level?

We propose a discussion on what such reform will look like, if necessary, and discuss ways to achieve greater accountability. Topics to be discussed include:

(i) What happened to THAT report known as Van Zyl Slabbert!?
(ii) Where should civil society focus its efforts? An ability to influence party lists? Finding ways to make constituencies work?;
(iii) Section 19 of the Constitution guarantees every person the right to stand for public office. Are ready for independent candidates?

The intention of this debate is to open up the conversation around electoral reform leading into the next local elections. It’s not as they say, “a panacea for change’,
but rather a chance to have a good old fashioned conversation.
Key texts:
Cheers,The MVC Team