The recent expulsion of Simanga Mthombeni, Economic Freedom Fighters Chief Whip in Mogale City, together with his five colleagues for voting in support of an ANC motion against the Democratic Alliance lays bare the power of the party HQ and the insignificance of individual accountability of politicians to voters in South Africa. The party HQ instructions must be followed whether an individual believes they are right or wrong. The conscience of individual politicians is not tolerated; this turns politicians into stooges or robots as this is the only way for politicians to survive in the council chambers or in Parliament. Do as the party leader says or get fired.
It is a similar story to when EFF Members of Parliament led by Mpho Ramakatsa were expelled from the EFF and later removed from Parliament in 2015. The truth is they were in Parliament at the mercy of the party leader, Julius Malema. It is a party dictatorship under the current electoral laws of 100% proportional representation. You either toe the line as per the party leader or you are booted out. It is an electoral law that breeds dictators and despots and turns politicians into robots, stooges and puppets of the party HQ.
There is no democracy in this system. It is an electoral law that must be discarded.
Without constituencies and specific wards for politicians in the electoral law, there will be no guarantees of individual accountability of politicians. Without individual accountability of politicians there is no way of stopping rampant corruption, state-sponsored crime and fraudulent activities.
In the national assembly, EFF leaders mobilised ANC Members of Parliament to vote with them to oust President Jacob Zuma against their own party instructions on the basis of their conscience but the EFF does not tolerate that in Mogale City when it is done by their own members. Is this not hypocrisy?
According to Floyd Shivambu, deputy president of the EFF, the party has taken a conscious decision that the ANC has failed the people of SA for 22 years and the EFF must not support the ANC or vote with them in council or in Parliament. The party has thus expelled the six councillors who voted with ANC in Mogale City.
One thing is clear – under the current electoral laws, there is no voting by conscience in politics. If you do, it is at your own risk. It’s only what the party HQ decides that must be followed or else you will be booted out. It is the same for all political parties in SA. Party leaders are virtual dictators.
This is a moral disgrace. It is not what the ANC was founded for.
Consider also the report by JP Landman into the ANC branch membership figures that were released by Luthuli House this month. By Landman’s analysis, the figures show that the “less populated, inland rural provinces have shown growth in the number of delegates, some considerably so”.
Supposed ANC membership in North West province now means this province will have 129% more branch delegates at the national elective conference in December than in 2012, which in turn means more influence over ANC in the next Parliament.
Delegates from Mpumalanga will be up 57.6% and from Free State up 26.23%.
Put together, delegates from North West, Mpumalanga, Free State, Limpopo and Northern Cape – five mainly rural provinces with only a single metro (Mangaung) – will make up 53.33% of delegates to the December elective conference, with power to decide on the next cohort of ANC MPs. In contrast, writes Landman: “Only 32% of the country’s population live in those five provinces.”
By the same process, Gauteng and Western Cape will be given even less influence over the country’s future, as a result of South Africa’s crazy electoral system. Though these two provinces now have 36.8% of SA’s population, and are the two provinces “where in-migration is the strongest”, at the December conference they will only have 15.5% of delegates, even less than in 2012.
This is anti-democratic. It is a recipe for fraud, corruption and oppression. Is it a surprise that a councillor from northern KZN reported last month that 4,000 illegal ANC membership cards had been discovered bearing a fake stamp from the Zululand region? He said the fake members were linked to “certain branches” of the ANC Youth League.
Last week the Witness reported that hundreds of ANC membership cards in Richmond in northern KZN had been “flagged as being fraudulent”. An anonymous ANC source – whose identity was kept secret by the paper because of political killings in the province – told the paper that “fraudulent membership cards had been used to influence the outcomes of the branch general meetings which selected councillor candidates and said they would have come in handy for the ‘captures’ during the upcoming ANC conferences”.
When will we wake up and reform our crooked electoral system? The only sane and safe alternative is for electoral reform, bringing politicians under the control of voters, not party bosses. DM
Omry Makgoale is a rank-and-file member of the ANC. These are his personal views