My Vote Counts rejects the Electoral Amendment Bill

Organisation says there are free fundamental flaws that are being ignored

My Vote Counts rejects the Electoral Amendment Bill

15 September 2022

We will not be submitting comments to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on its proposed changes to the Electoral Amendment Bill. We reiterate our position that the Bill is fatally flawed and marred by a wholly inadequate public participation process. To submit comments on any proposed changes is to legitimise the flawed Bill. We, therefore, reject the bill!

On 5 September 2022, the Portfolio Committee made a call for public comment only on its proposed changes to the flawed Bill and with a deadline of 16 September 2022. The Committee was clear that it will not consider any submissions that address the substantial flaws in the Bill or any proposals to ensure an electoral system that could meaningfully enhance accountability and reflect the constitution.

The Electoral Amendment Bill is fatally flawed

The three fundamental flaws have already been highlighted to the Portfolio Committee, but ignored:

    1. The public participation process was inadequate:

The Committee did not give the required notice to the public for its public hearings on the Bill in March of this year. Further, the Committee did not provide sufficient information for the public to properly understand the purpose of the process and the complexities of the electoral system.

   2. The Minister of Home Affairs ignored the majority view of the MAC:

In February 2021, the Minister of Home Affairs established a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) to, through consultation, advise how the electoral system should reform to strengthen democracy and comply with the constitutional court judgment. The Committee compiled a report in June 2021 that included two potential options — a minority and a majority view. The majority view was ignored by the Minister, and not presented to the public and was not engaged with by Parliament.  

   3. The Bill contradicts the Constitutional Court’s ruling:

The Bill requires individuals who wish to contest the elections to secure 30% of the quota of votes from the previous election. This is much higher than what is required of political parties and discriminates against independent candidates. This is in contradiction to the Con Court’s ruling to give right to individuals to contest as independent candidates.

Further, the Bill considers provinces as constituencies. This is not workable and is clearly an attempt to make the Minister’s minority option more palatable.  

Additionally, while political parties can contest 400 seats in the National Assembly, individuals can only contest 200 seats. Therefore, the numbers of votes required per seat for individuals contesting the election are substantially higher than for political parties.  

Therefore, we reject the Bill, and we reject the call to comment and legitimise it. We call on members of civil society to reject the Bill with equal contempt. We also call on Members of Parliament to push for a Bill that will meaningfully enhance accountability and reflect the constitution.  

Further, if Parliament is to adopt the flawed Bill, we realise the risk of Constitutional Court applications and the impact this may have on free and fair elections in 2024. We call on Parliament to allow civil society to support it in minimising this risk.

Issued by Sheilan Clarke, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Management, 15 September 2022