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Herman Mashaba calls for mixed electoral system after landmark Constitutional Court judgment

11 June 2020 - 13:21 By Sisanda Aluta Mbolekwa
Herman Mashaba. File photo.
Herman Mashaba. File photo.
Image: Sunday Times

Herman Mashaba, former mayor of Johannesburg and founder of The People’s Dialogue, has called for parliament to amend the Electoral Act to provide for a mixed electoral system, providing for at least half of the 400 seats to be directly elected through constituencies.

This comes as the Constitutional Court delivered a landmark judgment on Thursday, allowing for independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections.

Mashaba said that more needed to be done to ensure that parliament took the necessary steps to amend the Electoral Act to create direct accountability for South African voters.

“This would allow for a situation, for the first time in democratic SA, where voters could hold individual members of parliament accountable for their performance and their voting records. The problem lies with members of parliament, and our current political parties, being vehemently opposed to any form of direct accountability,” Mashaba said.

Mashaba said that the relevance of the judgment lay in its “ability to pave way for electoral reform, a fundamental value of The People’s Dialogue emanating from the submissions of 2.4-million South Africans”.

“For parliament to give expression to this judgment, it cannot stop at amending the Electoral Act simply to allow for independent candidates to contest at a national or provincial level,” he said.

He said the political party he was working to establish had electoral reform as a key value and would “live the principle of accountability internally”. 

He said his party had already committed to subject aspirant candidates to a primary system, where members of the public would be able to vote for the candidate they would like to see standing in their community.

“What will arise from this is a much higher level of candidate, chosen by the residents of that area, to serve that community. This same system will be used as a performance management system to hold candidates to account should they fail the residents who elected them,” Mashaba said.

“This,” he said, “would create the scenario where an independent candidate could garner more votes than required for a single seat in the National Assembly or a provincial legislature and the remainder of the votes would have to be redistributed to other political parties who were not chosen by those voters. For the Constitutional Court ruling to be given expression, parliament must amend the Electoral Act to provide for a change to our electoral system,” he added.