Today was the last day for the public to give feedback to the National Council of Provinces on the Electoral Amendment Bill. And while some civil society groups voiced their concerns to the NCOP at Parliament, others gathered at the Old Church down the road to raise their misgivings with the Bill.
They say they have already submitted these matters to the Portfolio Committees dealing with the Bill.
The groups say the bill in its current form is unconstitutional and they called on President Cyril Ramaphosa not to sign it off.
The bill should be enacted by the 10th of December.
One South Africa Movement’s Dr Michael Louis says, “The president took on average, took 45 days to consider and apply his mind, our estimation is in this process and his only going to have ten days and eight or five working days to consider one of the most controversial and important legislations since 1994. So we believe and plead to the president that he has to send this bill back because he won’t have enough time to sign it off or otherwise redo a condonation application to the constitutional court for additional time.”
DISCUSSION | Passing of the Electoral Amendment Bill:
They argue the bill in its current form does not allow for equality between political parties and independent candidates.
Inclusive Society’s Daryl Swanepoel says, “For an independent to participate in the election 13 – 17 000 seconded signatories that’s a near impossible task, whereas if you want to register as a political party you only need a thousand, so there. Equality problem and what we are thinking is that even though this bill has been amended to allow independents to participate, it could very well be seen as a scheme to keep independents out.”
In its explanation of seat allocation to the NCOP on Wednesday, the electoral commission confirmed that while independent candidates can stand in all nine provinces, they cannot add those votes together for them to be elected to parliament.
Daryl Swanepoel says, “So their votes can only count in the various provinces but they will not be added together, on the other hand, if you are a small political party a startup political party your votes will be counted together from across the country there again you can see the equality problem.”
Muslim Judicial Council Sheik Islam says, “Gone with the closed system of proportional representation gone with the system where we as citizens vote for parties but we’ve got no say in who is representing us in the national parliament, we want to have people seated there whom we can remove when they do not have our best interest and our best aspirations.”
Civil society groups say when MPs were sworn in they took an oath of office to uphold and protect the Constitution.
United Independent Movement’s Neil De Beer says, “We now have a major part of parliament who will go ahead and in my opinion breach their oath of office and if it starts with the electoral bill, what other laws, what other judgments will be disregarded in the future?”
The groups vowed to go to the constitutional court if the bill is passed.