The Inclusive Society Institute’s expert panel looking into electoral reform in South Africa met on 3 August 2020 to further elaborate on the boundaries of the research to be undertaken in the development of a new electoral model for South Africa.
The necessity to develop a new electoral model has been spurred by the recent Constitutional Court judgement declaring the current electoral model invalid. It has given the legislature two years to introduce new legislation that will enable independent candidates to stand for election in the national and provincial spheres of government.
At its 3 August meeting the panel decided to extend its work beyond the mere development of a technical model that would accommodate the requirement for independent candidates to stand for election. It would also use this window to come up with proposals as how to address the limitations of the current electoral model. The panel would for example consider systems that improve accountability to the voters by elected representatives, the improvement of oversight over the executive and the promotion of meaningful and inclusive demographic representivity within the legislatures.
Whilst not discarding an eventuality that may require some form of constitutional amendment, the preferred option of the panel to date, is to restrict its design to fit within the current boundaries of the Constitution and prescripts of the Constitutional Court judgement. That is, the retention of an electoral system that results, in general, in proportional representation, together with mechanisms providing for independent candidates to stand for election at all three spheres of government.
In its next phase of deliberations, the panel will consider the current applicability of the outcomes contained in the 2003 Van Zyl Slabbert Commission into electoral reform. It will also be receiving presentations on electoral models in other jurisdictions that combine proportionality with the right of independent candidates to stand for election.