The current version of the bill proposes that where there is a vacancy created because somebody (an independent candidate) has passed away or has resigned, the seat should only be filled at the next election.
Parliament senior legal adviser Siviwe Njikela warned MPs, saying the electoral system should be designed in a way that enfranchises people.
“If people have voted for a candidate and that candidate, for whatever reason, is no longer able to fulfil that function, is it fair and constitutional to keep that seat vacant for the remainder of the term, or should there be a system that will ensure the seat is filled based on the will of the people?”
He said the principle of one man one vote and each vote counting equally has to be upheld.
Njikela acknowledged there have been practical issues raised in terms of how cumbersome it may be for the electoral system to have to fill a seat by means of a by-election each time an independent candidate is no longer able to keep his or her seat.
“We defer to the department in as far as that issue is concerned,” he said.