Mbeki takes swipe at the recently endorsed Electoral Amendment Bill

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Former President Thabo Mbeki has criticised the recently endorsed Electoral Amendment Bill. Amid protests from some of the opposition parties, parliament passed the bill that seeks to give independent candidates the right to participate in the National and Provincial Elections.

Mbeki was speaking at the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation’s Drakensberg Inclusive Growth Forum.

“And I bet, if you convened the National Executive Committee tomorrow and said, is this what you voted for? They will say no. Have you seen it? They will say no, its the first time I hear about it. They don’t know. You are the governing party. You cannot change the electoral law of this country, unless is a decision of the movement.”

On Friday, the Rivonia Circle echoed other civil organisations who were contesting the controversial Electoral Amendment Bill, saying the bill in its current form remained unconstitutional and it must be challenged.

The National Assembly on Thursday voted by 232 votes to 98 to pass the bill that will allow individuals to stand for elected office as independents, but has been lamented by observers as a missed opportunity for thorough reform to enhance political accountability.

Chairperson of the Rivonia Circle, Songezo Zibi says they are adamant in their stance in opposing the bill.

“The Rivonia circle has been involved together with other civil society groups together with other society groups in making further submissions to this bill and opposing it in its current form. We believe that in its current form it is unconstitutional and to let it stand unchallenged would be wrong, but I think it’s important for the listens to understand that the National Council of Provinces must still do its work properly. That version, if there are any amendments, must come back to the National Assembly, get passed and then it goes to President Ramaphosa. He’s obliged to consider to the constitutionality of any bill that comes before him and send it back to parliament. He must do his part. If he does not, then I’m afraid the 2024 election may happen under a legal challenge.”

The DA is confident the deposit requirement for independent candidates to register to contest national and provincial elections will be challenged successfully in court.

The DA has rejected the Electoral Amendment Bill with 73 of its MPs voting against the bill.

DA MP Adrian Roos participated in the debate during a National Assembly special hybrid sitting to consider and pass the bill, which seeks to give independent candidates the right to participate in the national and provincial elections following a June 2020 Constitutional Court order for parliament to rectify the defect in the Electoral Act.

“The requirement for deposits and support petitions are common around the world. However, the political parties have a lower requirement when they are registered. And the DA proposed that this be erased in line with the requirements of independents. This was also not accepted even though it’s a rational solution that will surely be successfully challenged in court as an unfair disadvantage to independents. Although the new judgment didn’t prescribe overall electoral reform, it is becoming more critical than ever. There is a narrative that all parties are protecting the status quo. I can tell you only the ANC voted for this bill.