Glen Mashinini, chaiperson of the Electoral Commission.
- The IEC says it will stay out of the debate on a new electoral system for South Africa.
- It will, however, provide technical support.
- This comes after the Constitutional Court ruled that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it did not allow independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections.
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), which oversees all local, provincial and national elections, will not get involved in configuring a new electoral system for South Africa.
In June, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional for not allowing independent candidates to run in the provincial and national elections. It gave Parliament 24 months to redraft the act.
At a media briefing on Wednesday, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini acknowledged the importance of the court’s ruling but said the commission’s role would be limited to technical support for Parliament.
“Immediately after the judgment by the Constitutional Court, we made it clear in principle that we will abide. We communicated this to Parliament. These are issues for Parliament to deal with. We don’t want to confuse the public about our role and responsibility,” Mashinini said.
He said the IEC had a repository of skills and competencies about the running of elections that it would avail to Parliament, as the legislature debated to what extent direct representation should be incorporated into the electoral system.
Currently, the country only has proportional representation at a provincial and national level, meaning voters can only vote for a party. Political parties draw up their own lists of candidates, which then are allocated seats in the legislature, depending on the percentage of support received.
The Constitutional Court ruled that individuals should also be allowed to contest the provincial and national elections. This effectively introduces a constituency system, where voters can vote for people who represent a party or stand as independents.
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Mashinini said the IEC shared a comprehensive list of available options and scenarios with the legislature.
“The IEC does not recommend a particular system”.
The commission will support Parliament with a technical team “who will be available continuously until the process is completed to provide them with information. We will abide with the announcement once it is made.”
Mashinini confirmed that the IEC was mandated to educate the public about changes to the electoral system and how the changes would impact the 2024 national and provincial elections.
He said the commission was exploring the use of technology to reach millions of voters on mobile platforms.
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