Rob Hersov: SA’s new Electoral Act – A positive step for democracy or an unfair game rigged by the ANC?

By Rob Hersov*

Rob Hersov
Rob Hersov

Cyril the Loadshedder has at last signed something that sounds like a positive move for all South Africans – the new 2023 Electoral Act, which at last allows independent candidates to stand in the 2024 election for seats in Parliament and, for once, represent the communities who elected them.

A positive step for democracy in our country? 

A brave move by a weak and useless President?

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A lot of smart, impressive, trustworthy, and honest people don’t think so and are furious at him and the ANC, and here is why, in the simplest summary thus far:

  1. Under the old 1994 Electoral Act (judged unconstitutional two years ago, thanks to the incredible work by Michael Louis and many others, particularly civil associations), you only needed 1,000 signatures to qualify as a political party for National Elections. To Register for local government Municipality elections, you required 100 signatures. 
  2. Under the 2023 Amendment Act just signed, to stand as an independent candidate you need, taking three examples, 13,890 signatures in Gauteng, 13,280 in the Western Cape and 11,329 in Limpopo.
  3. Each signature needs to be accompanied by a full and accurate name, ID number, and other information which under normal circumstances (assume you are standing at a Mall asking for support) would take at least 10minutes to fill out and confirm. If you had 8 friends helping you it would still take about 6 months of active campaigning (assuming 8 hours per day) to get these signatures. 
  4. Under the old 1994 Electoral Act, you would need on average 43,000 votes to secure one seat in Parliament. With this 2023 Electoral Amendment Act to qualify on the new regional thresh holds you will need as a Independent , taking the same three examples, 92,000 votes in Gauteng, 88,000 votes in the Western Cape and 75,000 in Limpopo.
  5. To make it even more unfair, these numbers are 82% more voters required than the ANC (or any other political party) is required to get a seat in Parliament.
  6. And to put the unfairness into a number’s perspective, at the last election the following parties got a total number of votes across the whole of South Africa in the National elections : COPE 47,461, UDM 76,000, GOOD Party 70,000.
  7. There are 400 seats in the National Assembly . Independents qualify to contest for only 200 and not 200 Compensatory seats. All political parties’ votes are added together to determine their proportional representation votes. However, if an Independent Candidate stands in all nine provinces and receives 10,000 votes in each province (90,000 votes in total) , his/her votes are not added together and they will only qualify for 10,000 votes and therefore will not qualify for a seat.
  8. Last but not least , if an Independent Candidate vacates a seat, there will be a recalculation of the seat allocation and the Independent Candidates seat will go to another political party. However, if a member of a political part vacates a seat , the seat will go to the next member on the political party list.

The ANC has “gamed” the new electoral act in its favour, and a seat in Parliament becomes nearly impossible to achieve for Independents. 

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There are many other reasons this new Electoral Act is unfair, wrong, and should be thrown out, as Mmusi Maimane and other brave and powerful voices from civil society are shouting.

Do the math, folks – we have been conned, by the ANC. 

Again.

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*Rob Hersov is a global entrepreneur based in Cape Town.

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