Ramaphosa urged not to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill 

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Defend our Democracy and various other civil society organisations have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to not sign the Electoral Amendment Bill in its current form that parliament will vote on later this month.

The Bill comes from the June 2020 Constitutional Court judgment that ruled that independent candidates can stand for elections at a national and provincial level.

Following the apex court’s judgment, a ministerial advisory committee was appointed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Aaron Motswaledi, to advise him on the best route to take when amending the Electoral Act.

The Majority report proposes a mixed constituency and a proportional system as a basis for electoral reform. However, the current minority report which parliament has endorsed favours the current political system and not the independents.

Rivonia Circle’s Lukhona Mnguni says, “The minority report was basically saying independent candidates can participate but the constituency is a province, that means if you are an independent candidate and you are in KwaZulu-Natal, you must fight for votes in Kokstad as much as you must fight for votes in Mangozi. The second issue was the issue of cooling off periods whether you’ve left a political party, what should happen to you if you want to contest as an independent candidate? The third issue is the signatures, the threshold, and what number will it take for an independent candidate to contest in elections. ”

The Court gave Parliament till June of this year to amend the Act, but further granted it an extension to finalise the Bill by the end of December.

However, experts warn if the Bill is passed it may put the watershed 2024 elections at risk and even result in it being legally challenged.

Civil society groups urge President Ramaphosa not to sign the Electoral Amendment Bill:

‘Unfair system’

Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) Executive Secretary, Lawson Naidoo says, “This system is inherently unfair, we need to confront and challenge it. Members of parliament don’t understand the consequences, whether they be intended or unintended. We know that members of the portfolio committee need to go through it clause by clause, what this means is that these processes place at risk the holding of free and fair elections in 2024.”

Civil Society will now embark on a mass campaign to educate the public about the bill.

Mnguni says, “It is for this reason that we are launching a public campaign to educate, mobilise and catalyse different communities into action about electoral reform, civil society organisations have avoided premature litigation on this process even when parliament had strayed. We view this process as  highly political and about the future of our democracy, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we should not allow politicians to define the nature of reform necessary to make for a more robust electoral system.”

Parliament was further criticized for not treating the bill with the urgency it deserves.

VIDEO: Defend our Democracy is launching a campaign for credible and meaningful electoral reform: