ANC discusses possibility of electronic voting during Covid-19 pandemic

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says the ANC national working committee wants discussions on the electoral system.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says the ANC national working committee wants discussions on the electoral system.
Image: Masi Losi

The ANCs national working committee (NWC) wants its structures to begin discussing reforms in the electoral system - including the possibility of electronic voting.

The NWC discussed a number of proposals around the challenges Covid-19 will present for next year’s local government elections, which its representatives will be taking to the Independent Electoral Committee's national party liaison committee.

Door-to-door campaigning, large rallies and other traditional campaign methods are likely to be ruled out in the absence of a vaccine for the virus.

“The NWC noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has, and will continue to have, a major impact on all aspects of our national life, including the manner in, and time at which, elections are held.

“It noted that the pandemic has resulted in the Electoral Court ordering the postponement of a number of municipal by-elections. It also noted that public participation processes for the delimitation of municipal wards in preparation for local government elections in 2021 have been delayed by the pandemic,” a statement issued by party secretary-general Ace Magashule reads.

Among the reforms the NWC has touted are:

  • A synchronisation of elections at national, provincial and local spheres of government;
  • The introduction of elements of constituency-based representation at national and provincial spheres, consistent with the constitutional requirement for an electoral system that results, in general, in proportional representation;
  • Alternative methods of conducting elections, including the use of electronic voting.

Magashule's statement says that the party is aware of the level of widespread consultation which would have to precede the suggested reforms.

“The NWC discussed these proposals in the context of strengthening the accountability of responsiveness of democratic institutions and the building of a more effective and capable developmental state. In this regard the NWC also considered the impact of the electoral system on the strengthening of the district development model seeking to align planning, budgeting, and implementation across national, provincial and local spheres of government,” said Magashule.

It would now be up to the subcommittees of the party which deal with governance to further workshop and solidify the preliminary proposals.

“The NWC emphasised that these proposals must be supported by a rigorous evidence-based approach, including clarity regarding their constitutional implications. It mandated the legislatures and governance sub-committee of the NEC to conduct research to further develop these proposals,” said Magashule.

Also on the NWC's agenda was the government's response to Covid-19, along with the alliance’s discussion paper – published last week – which provides a blueprint for the government on how to go about managing the virus.

Magashule said the meeting condemned “ongoing racist and sexist attacks”, against Cogta minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who is a member of the NWC.

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