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Support for status quo on elections

04 March 2012 - 02:15 By SIBONGAKONKE SHOBA

PROPOSALS to hold a single election for national, provincial and local government could be shelved if the drafters of the ANC policy discussion documents have their way.

The document on legislature and governance recommends that local government and national elections should continue to be held on separate dates.

Opposition parties have opposed the combined election plan, saying it would only benefit the ANC.

But delegates at the ruling party's policy conference in June could still push for a single election, an idea that enjoys strong support within the ANC.

Backers of the idea argue that a single election would be cheaper and free up party funds for other priorities. They say a single election could give the ANC the opportunity to deploy "capable cadres" to each sphere of government, and could reduce candidate selection battles.

They argue that too much time is spent on separate election campaigns instead of governance and organisation-building.

But others in the party dispute the cost-saving argument and say separate elections give the ANC more opportunity to reconnect with constituents.

The discussion document recommends that the system used to calculate proportional representation (PR) seats at local government level be retained.

Some in the ANC had complained that the current system allocates PR seats to parties that do not win any wards. But the document warned that changing the system could cost the ANC, especially in areas where it is not in control of councils.

"In strong areas we may increase our number of councilors slightly, but in weak areas where we win almost no wards, we may get fewer."