20 October 2022

The National Assembly will today vote to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill. If the Bill is passed, Parliament will threaten our right to vote and inflict a grave injustice to our democracy. We call on Members of Parliament to vote with their conscience and Reject the Bill.

The Electoral Amendment Bill is fatally flawed

Considering its fundamental flaws, it is clear that little thought has been given to the Bill. This, despite civil society raising these floors to Parliament on many occasions. These flaws include:

 1. The public participation process was inadequate:

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs did not give the required notice to the public for its public hearings on the Bill in March of this year. Further, the Committee did not provide sufficient information for the public to properly understand the purpose of the process and the complexities of the chosen electoral system.

2. The Minister of Home Affairs ignored the majority view of the MAC:

In February 2021, the Minister of Home Affairs established a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to, through consultation, advise how the electoral system should reform to strengthen democracy and comply with the constitutional court judgment. The Committee compiled a report in June 2021 that included two potential options — a minority (proposed including independent candidates to contest with political parties in the existing electoral system) and a majority view (proposed a mixed electoral system, with half seats in the NA being voted directly from single member constituencies and the other half being allocated according to proportional representation. The majority view was ignored by the Minister, and not presented to the public and was not engaged with by Parliament.

 3. The Bill contradicts the Constitutional Court’s ruling:

The Bill requires individuals who wish to contest the elections to secure 20% of the quota of votes from the previous election. This is much higher than what is required of political parties and discriminates against independent candidates. This is in contradiction to the Con Court’s ruling to give right to individuals to contest as independent candidates.

Further, the Bill considers provinces as constituencies. This is not workable and is clearly an attempt to make the Minister’s minority option more palatable.

Additionally, while political parties can contest 400 seats in the National Assembly, individuals can only contest 200 seats. Therefore, the numbers of votes required per seat for individuals contesting the election are substantially higher than for political parties.

We remind Members of Parliament that they have taken an oath to the electorate to uphold the constitution in the interests of the people, not of political parties. Therefore, they have no choice but to Reject the Bill.

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