ANC backs major electoral reform, touting single election instead of two

The ANC leadership has thrown its weight behind a proposal for electoral reform, secretary-general Ace Magashule told the media on Wednesday.
The ANC leadership has thrown its weight behind a proposal for electoral reform, secretary-general Ace Magashule told the media on Wednesday.
Image: Alon Skuy

The ANC national executive committee has thrown its weight behind a proposal for electoral reform which would see a single election as opposed to two separate events.

Secretary-general Ace Magashule told the media on Wednesday afternoon that the party would now hold talks with other parties who shared the same view, given that such a change would require an amendment to the constitution.

Currently, SA runs two elections in a five-year cycle: national and provincial, and local government.

“We are calling for a single election: a synchronised election by all spheres of government. Obviously that will need an amendment of the constitution and if you have to amend the constitution, we will engage other parties,” said Magashule.

“The EFF has also made a point about one single election. There are of course many other parties and we will engage them as well. If we agree then we will have to amend the constitution.

“As South Africans I am sure it might be better to have one single election because you can then deal with many other issues, including party funding.”

He said while the ANC was not directly calling for the postponement of next year’s municipal elections, it was aware of the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, which could affect elections. This meant a postponement of the election was not being ruled out.

“We are saying, in terms of the constitution, local government elections are supposed to take place. If the Covid conditions continue, we will be directed by the IEC. We will be directed by the courts as to whether it is possible to postpone because of conditions of Covid.”

In recent weeks the party’s national working committee (NWC) announced that it wanted the party to begin discussing electoral reform, which would also include the possibility of electronic voting.

“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,” said Magashule. “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.”

Among the reforms the NWC has touted are:

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

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