MPs guard their positions by being loyal to party instead of Constitution: iLIVE

04 April 2016 - 11:54 By Clive Dennison, Pietermaritzburg

Following the Constitutional Court’s recent ruling, it strikes me that there is a fundamental flaw at the heart of our electoral system, which might explain how Parliament came to be in dereliction of its duty in the Zuma/Nkandla affair (and many others).

Houses of Parliament, Cape Town. File photo.
Houses of Parliament, Cape Town. File photo.
Image: Maryann Shaw/Gallo Images

Under our present proportional representation system, parliamentarians essentially have no constituencies and instead are answerable only to their parties.

This means that their first loyalty is to their party, and its leader, rather than to the Constitution of the country.

Any parliamentarian who put the Constitution ahead of their party would soon face dismissal.

However, MPs would most probably not be able to earn equivalent salaries elsewhere, and so are motivated to jealously guard their positions, which they can best do by simply backing the leader in all matters.

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In fact, one wonders at the relevance of Parliament, since the system almost guarantees that MPs will have no independent “backbone”.

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