New bill could allow individuals to stand for elections in South Africa

Cope political party president, Mosiuoa Lekota, has announced his intention to table a private member’s bill to Parliament, which could have a major impact on South Africa’s election rules.

The bill, published in a Government Gazette, would enable people not representing a political party to be elected to provincial legislatures and Parliament.

Under the current electoral system for the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures political parties (and not individuals) contest elections.

Each party is allocated a number of seats in the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures calculated according to a formula, reflecting as closely as possible the proportion of votes that party obtained in the general elections.

Each party determines which of its members fill the allocated seats.

The new Electoral Laws Amendment Bill (2019) notes that while there are advantages to this system, there are also a number of weaknesses.

These include:

  • A lack of accountability of members of the relevant legislatures to its voters;
  • Alienation of voters from the political system;
  • No provision is made for the voting public to vote for individual members (there is merely a link between the public and political parties).

As such the new Electoral Laws Amendment Bill seeks to amend the current Electoral Bill to:

  • Provide for and to regulate independent candidacy;
  • Give full effect to section 19(3)(b) of the Constitution, which provides that every South African citizen has the fundamental right to stand for public office and, if elected, to hold office;
  • To ensure that individuals can stand for office as independent candidates without having to stand for office by virtue of his or her membership of a political party;
  • To promote democratic governance and electoral accountability;
  • To provide for independent candidates to participate in election broadcasts and political advertisements on an equitable basis with political parties;
  • To provide for independent candidates to receive financial and administrative assistance to enable them to perform their functions effectively;

Interested parties and institutions are invited to submit written representations on the proposed content of the draft Bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly by no later than 21 January 2019.


Read: This is what Maimane, Malema and other South African MPs are getting paid

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New bill could allow individuals to stand for elections in South Africa