Some things that are decided in Parliament and South Africa’s courts make headline news and remain topical for a while. Other decisions, however, sometimes slip by with hardly anyone noticing. On 11 June this year, the Concourt ruled that sections of our Electoral Act were unconstitutional and gave Parliament two years to change them. This crucial ruling, which has the potential to reshape the democratic landscape of our country, has inexplicably gone “quiet”, and Parliament has done nothing about it. OUTA Supporters and all South Africans need to turn up the volume. 

Reminder: The Concourt judgment declared sections of the Electoral Act unconstitutional, because they prevented independent candidates from standing in national and provincial elections. The court allowed Parliament two years to amend the law to allow independent candidates, in addition to party candidates, to stand in elections. But nothing is happening.

Why is this important, and what is OUTA doing about it? Matt Johnson, OUTA’s Parliamentary Engagement Manager, explains: 

OUTA, which acted as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in that matter, believes that independent candidates must be allowed to stand in elections, because this will lead to a healthier democracy, with MPs and MPLs less beholden to party bosses and more to the electorate.

As time drags on, OUTA is concerned that Parliament will do only the absolute minimum to comply with the Concourt order by accommodating independent candidates and leaving everything else the same. This will not bring about accountability and real electoral reform, and will be a missed opportunity. 

We will continue to call on Parliament to stop dragging its feet and get on with making the amendments. In the wake of state capture and the systemic looting by corrupt individuals and families, the need for a broader, more representative electoral system is clear. South Africans desperately need politicians to wake up and smell the coffee: an electoral system where Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislatures are more accountable to communities instead of parties is crucial.