Cope drafts private member’s bill to amend Electoral Act

Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota and party colleague Farouk Cassim briefed Parliament’s home affairs committee on the bill on Tuesday.

FILE: Cope's Mosiua Lekota signs the IEC code of conduct. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - The Congress of the People (Cope) has drafted a private member’s bill to amend the Electoral Act and allow for independent candidates to stand in provincial and national elections.

Cope president Mosiuoa Lekota and party colleague Farouk Cassim briefed Parliament’s home affairs committee on the bill on Tuesday.

Parliament has two years to amend the Electoral Act after the Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional in that it did not allow independent candidates to stand for election to the national and provincial legislatures.

READ MORE: ConCourt rules independent candidates may in future contest elections

Cope’s private member’s bill comes while the Cabinet must still approve the new policy when it comes to elections.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi could not give the committee details on this policy, saying that Cabinet must approve it first.

READ MORE: Motsoaledi mum on electoral reform until Cabinet approves new policy

Cope’s draft bill provides for a mixed system of proportional representation and constituency-based voting, with the country split into 52 constituencies, based on metros and district municipalities.

Kgalema Motlanthe’s high-level panel noted in 2017 the weakness of accountability in the proportional representation system that South Africa currently uses because MPs and MPLs are elected by their parties rather than by voters.

Lekota said: “This makes them beholden to the party and its leadership rather than to voters and places party politics and loyalties ahead of effectiveness and delivery. The point here having been that the Freedom Charter declared that the people shall govern - that it is the people who will say what needs to be done, not somebody on their behalf.”

Proposals in the draft bill include an open list system so that voters can vote for a candidate on a party’s list without voting for the party, and a clause that says all those elected must in a personal manifesto state how they intend to advance the Bill of Rights, while one-third of those elected must be women. It also proposes fewer seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures during tough economic times.

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