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Top take-aways from the Organic Humanity Movement

Top take-aways from the Organic Humanity Movement
Ballots on a table at a polling station in Alexandra, Johannesburg, South Africa, 8 May 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Yeshiel Panchia)

This article originally appeared as an elections newsletter by Ferial Haffajee. Here, we break down everything you need to know before the big vote. Next up are the top take-aways from the Organic Humanity Movement.

 All about

  • The Organic Humanity Movement abbreviates as OHM, the Sanskrit symbol of self within, the I, or the measurement of the basic unit of electric resistance, the volt. (You have to love that. Ed.)
  • It was started by wife and mother of four Lauren Evanthia Bernardo, who says the political system in South Africa, party-based and distant, is not fit for purpose.
  • “And with self-preservation as the guiding principle, not just for elected representatives, but for parties too, nothing positive can be achieved for the people of South Africa or the country itself.”
  • Should OHM get into Parliament, its aim is to overhaul the system completely. (You have to love that more. Ed.).

The Top Take-aways

1. OHM says parties in Parliament engage in partisan warfare and lose sight of the people

  • “If successful, political parties should lose their status and recognition in government,” it says.
  • “We transition to a system where independent candidates apply with the IEC to run for public office at all levels of government.”
  • With the entire system being run by independent candidates elected from the 52 municipal districts, it proposes people voting for people from their geographical area, who live where they represent people. (Wouldn’t that be lovely? Ed.)
  • This would do away with the current provincial government, and maintain the separation of powers.

2. Revise the ballot system

  • The OHM says the ballot should be replaced, where you vote for a number of representatives by order of preference – the mock ballot in their manifesto has eight candidates, and you mark up in order of preference, eliminating the weakest candidates.
  • The presidential ballot would be done in the same way. Those who do not become president then form part of a presidential advisory council.

3. Governance

  • Voters should be able to remove a representative from public office (except for the President) if they are negligent in their duties. The IEC would oversee this removal process.
  • The OHM, should it one day form a government, says the principles of self-governance, family governance and community governance, would inform its work.
  • Most power will be devolved, so national government will take care of only three areas: infrastructure and resources, the justice system and national defence.
  • Local government will take care of everything else.

4. Other electoral or structural changes

  • OHM would do away with several Chapter 9 institutions that protect the Constitution.
  • It will maintain the IEC.
  • It will introduce the Commission for the Preservation of Liberty and Humanity (replacing the Human Rights Commission), and the Watchdog for International Threats.

OHM says this is just one ballot sheet proposal example, if switching to their system.

What’s good?
These are fabulous ideas and we find it quite appealing because, come on, can you even name your local MP and what they have done for you lately? (This may be just me in Gauteng, and Johannesburg specifically, where the answer is f***all – so forgive my cynicism if you have an active MP. Ed.)

Reality check
But, OHM is new, not widely known and its radical ideas will take years if not decades to seed.

Sign up to Elections ’24 newsletter here. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Manifestos; voting FAQs and the latest news


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