The political party to end all parties…

Lauren Evanthia Bernardo, the founder of the Organic Humanity Movement (OHM) Party, advocates a political system that will remove political parties – and in which only independents will run for public office. In this interview with BizNews, she says that will enable the voter to vote directly for all of their public representatives, including the President of South Africa. “And we believe this will completely transform our country. We also want to implement a mechanism that votes public representatives out if they’re not doing their jobs.” She says a vote for a small party is not a wasted vote – and tells voters that South Africa can be on a “completely different trajectory” if those who do not vote decide to go and vote for any party not in the top three.

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Highlights from the interview

Lauren Evanthia Bernardo, the founder of the Organic Humanity Movement (OHM) Party, advocates a political system that will remove political parties – and in which only independents will run for public office. In this interview with BizNews, she says that will enable the voter to vote directly for all of their public representatives, including the President of South Africa. “And we believe this will completely transform our country. We also want to implement a mechanism that votes public representatives out if they’re not doing their jobs.” She says a vote for a small party is not a wasted vote – and tells voters that South Africa can be on a “completely different trajectory” if those who do not vote decide to go and vote for any party not in the top three.

Extended transcript of the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Chris Steyn (00:01.685)

Is voting for a small party a wasted vote? We speak to Lauren Evanthia Bernardo, the founder of the Organic Humanity Movement (OHM) Party. Welcome Lauren.

Lauren Bernardo (00:14.162)

Hi Chris, thank you so much for having me here on BizNews and I’m very excited to answer this question specifically because it seems like a huge misconception that has been going around for many, many years. And if you really break down what a true democracy means, you’ll see that this is a complete fallacy, the thought that voting for a small party is a wasted vote. In fact, voting at all, for whatever party, there is no such thing as a wasted vote. We have a crisis in this country and it is not unique to South Africa, but it’s definitely a problem in this modern world, in democratic countries, in countries that proclaim to have some sort of democracy. 

And in 2019, if you just look at the statistics, we had 18 million people not going to vote, people who are eligible to vote. So 9 million of those people were no shows. So they are registered but they chose not to go vote and another nine million that are not registered that are eligible to be registered. And then we had a voter turnout of 17 million andthat is  it’s clear that in this country people don’t like voting. 

We can completely displace this current government if you look at the timeline: elections are happening in I think it’s exactly three weeks. In three weeks time, South Africa can be on a completely different trajectory if those who do not vote decide to go and vote and vote for any party that is not the top three, because the top three parties hold 90 % of the power in our parliament.

Chris Steyn (01:51.125)

Just talking about your party. Let’s tell people what you stand for. You have quite a novel concept of system change, don’t you?

Lauren Bernardo (01:58.578)

Oui.

Lauren Bernardo (02:02.418)

Yes, actually, we like to call ourselves the party to end all parties. And that includes ourselves as well. We are striving to become irrelevant. We believe that the multiparty democracy that we have, as stated by our Constitution that is so revered by people across the world, is in fact the thing that is preventing South Africa from progressing to be a sovereign nation. So what we want to do is implement a system, a political system, that will remove political parties and where only independents will run for public office, which means you, the voter, will vote directly for all of your public representatives, including the president of South Africa. And we believe this will completely transform our country. 

But we also propose other changes to the actual ballot paper. And we also want to make changes to the government structure.

But that’s just some of the changes to the political system. 

We also want to implement a mechanism that votes public representatives out if they’re not doing their jobs. And the IEC, the Independent Electoral Commission, will still exist as a Chapter Nine institution and will have a very important role in managing candidates who want to run as independents. By doing this, you remove the middleman. If you look at politics right now, I don’t care which party you support at the moment, if you look at how they work internally, those who are elected to public office, they answer to who? Not the people of South Africa. They answer to the political party that employs them. And that’s why we have such a crisis in this country with government failure happening at all levels.

Chris Steyn (03:37.525)

What would you describe as the most important change that should come about in government structure?

Lauren Bernardo (03:45.298)

If you’re looking at government structure, there’s multifaceted changes that we want to take place. I mean, example, we’re getting rid of provincial government. That’s our proposal. But the most important change, in my opinion, is the fact that national government will be set up completely to protect the borders of this country and strengthen this nation so that we can stand strong against any international threat. 

This includes removing UNESCO influence from the national school curriculum. This includes removing the World Health Organisation trying to influence how our country responds to crisis. This includes global organisations having any influence over government policy that affects the people of South Africa. So it’s strengthening the borders, it’s strengthening our military, it’s strengthening our capacity to grow the economy so that inside the country, citizens can live as free as possible.

Chris Steyn (04:43.125)

What are the most important political changes? What would be your priorities?

Lauren Bernardo (04:49.17)

Do you mean with regards to the political system or once the system is in place?

Chris Steyn (04:54.261)

Both.

Lauren Bernardo (04:55.858)

Okay, well, we need to change the system. So I often get because we are a party, people will ask us the typical questions. What’s your policy on XYZ? What we’re saying is that let’s pause on policy for a moment. Let’s unite everyone, no matter what their opinions, stances or policies are and change the system. Once we have a new political system in place, what happens then ? is that you as the voter gets to vote for the candidates you feel will represent your morals, your values, and your beliefs. And this is going to be a very exciting time for South Africa. I absolutely for one will contest in that system as a public representative, as a candidate. And I am hoping and also confident that many of our members within our organisation will do the same, that they will run for public office as independents in the future system. 

And remember with the government changes we’re making, one thing I do want to just highlight is that it’s important to understand how the government structure is going to work to understand how your public representatives will benefit you. 

And I spoke about the most important government change to me is making the borders of this country strong, strengthening the state of the nation, literally. And that means that local governments will be given more responsibility and more autonomy. So national government will only look after three main areas. It’s the defense of the country, which will include things like international relations, military and intelligence. Then you’ve got resources and infrastructure, which will include things like nuclear power to strengthen the grid. And then you’ve got the justice system, which will be rolled out at a national framework. Everything else will be taken care of at a local government level. Anything that provincial also used to do, will also be taken care of at a local government level.

The way we have proposed dividing up the country into 52 local governments will be big enough and diverse enough to be able to take care of all the things that national government and provincial government previously did, such as healthcare, such as welfare even, such as the schooling system and many other things. And I think it’s quite exciting because now communities will be more face to face with government. All the changes we’re making brings government closer to the people.

Lauren Bernardo (07:13.874)

And that’s the biggest change is the accountability that we want to bring and strengthening the country so that we can live freely. And I really have to highlight that: let’s put our policy differences aside for the time being until we have gotten rid of the subverted form of democracy that we have been given by those that stand to benefit from our nation’s wealth and resources. Let’s put a truly South African system in place.

Once that is in place, then go and vote for people that will promote the policies you believe in.

Chris Steyn (07:51.061)

Lauren, I think our viewers don’t know a lot about you. Please tell us what inspired you to form the Organic Humanity Movement. And you’ve been working so hard these past few years.

Lauren Bernardo (08:05.778)

It’s only my children. I am actually a sound engineer. That’s what I studied. I studied sound engineering in Port Elizabeth, and I worked in the events and entertainment industry for a long time. And then I took on other roles in the industry when I had children, more administrative and marketing roles as I had more children. By the time my fourth was born, I had no doubt that I wanted to vote at least for the first time. And then when I voted that just had like a snowball effect when I got deeply involved in politics. I’ve been in politics for 10 years now, either as a volunteer or an employer or running owned by myself. So I’ve walked a long journey of a decade being involved in politics. I was with the official opposition of the country for a few years and I was employed in the City of Cape Town as well. So I saw how things work at a local government level. I also studied in that time with regards to government administration, but the motivation all along to be involved in politics was my children.

When I was involved in politics and saw how broken the system was from within and how good people and good ideas will never find success in the broken system as it stands. Then I just felt like I needed to carve my own path. And I woke up literally one morning in September of 2017 with an idea to start a new political party. And that’s what I did. And it’s been hard. It’s been challenging, but it’s also been so fulfilling and rewarding. And, you know, in the organisation, we have just over 2000 members now.

It’s been a long journey. The first two years were probably the hardest. No one in the organization gets paid. Every single person that works, including myself, for this vision does so with love and with passion, not for any monetary gain. And I think that’s what really sets us apart from any other political organisations that are thriving of taxpayers’ money and then donations of corporations. So that really makes us special. 

We are a large organisation, 2,000 members strong, of people who wouldn’t otherwise have been involved in politics if it wasn’t for that need to ensure that our children have a future.

Chris Steyn (10:12.661)

Thank you. That was Lauren Evanthia Bernardo, the founder of the Organic Humanity Movement, speaking to BizNews about why a vote for a small party is not a wasted vote. Thank you, Lauren. I’m Chris Steyn.

 Please read the OHM’s Manifesto here:

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