Defend Truth


We want electoral reform – and the right to choose our representatives directly


Omry Makgoale is a rank and file member of the ANC. These are his personal views.

South Africa can only be saved by the Van Zyl Slabbert Commission's majority recommendation that 75% of all members of Parliament should be elected by us, the voters. 

For 20 years, every African National Congress government has sat on the proposal of a majority of the commission headed by Dr Frederik van Zyl Slabbert that South Africa needs electoral reform in which MPs and provincial councillors are under the control of us, the voters, and not party headquarters. 

Only we, the citizens of South Africa — and not politicians — can rescue and renew the country. We need a reform of the Electoral Act so that the majority of MPs are directly elected and can be removed by the citizens of South Africa. 

It is shameful that nearly 30 years after the end of apartheid, black people should still be cut off from the power to choose their own representatives, and remain powerless. We demand an end to this electoral apartheid, in which all power over MPs is held by party headquarters. 

After the curtain closed on the 55th ANC national elective conference at Nasrec on 20 December, it is important to acknowledge that the new ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) is incapable of cleaning up Parliament, and consequently cleansing the South African state and government of corruption and mismanagement. 

Party bosses must not be allowed to continue to appoint their stooges as MPs. It’s a very destructive political racket.

ANC leaders linked to corruption

The Zondo Commission of Inquiry report has revealed that 97 ANC leaders have been implicated in corruption related to State Capture, with links to the Gupta family and Bosasa run by the Watson family.

There is Malusi Gigaba, the former minister of public enterprises, who administered the decline and destruction of Eskom, Transnet and Prasa under his watch. Gigaba is among those listed in the Zondo Commission report, yet he features in the top 20 list of the newly elected NEC. He will be an ANC member of Parliament according to the current Electoral Act, under which party bosses like him decide who becomes an MP — without a word from us, the citizens. 

Gigaba’s estranged wife, Noma Mngoma, confirmed that the Guptas renovated Gigaba’s father’s house and settled his sister’s R800,000 debts. Such NEC members cannot be trusted with the resources of the state, yet we the people are powerless to remove them. 

This is not what the struggle against apartheid was for. There is no democracy here.

Gwede Mantashe, the national chairperson and the third-most senior person in the ANC, is taking the Zondo report on review to try to expunge the section which states that Bosasa provided him with cameras and security fence as part of the security upgrade at his home in the East Rand. Such leaders cannot be trusted to protect the resources of the South African people.

Nomvula Mokonyane, the newly elected first deputy secretary-general of the ANC, had her 40th birthday party paid for by Bosasa. How can she be trusted with ANC resources? 

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These three are among the leaders recently elected by the delegates at the Nasrec 2022 conference. This means that the branch delegates have not read the Zondo commission report, or that they read the report but chose not to believe its conclusions. Or is it that the delegates just don’t care? 

It reveals that the ANC cannot cleanse itself 

This is the NEC that will continue to deploy its stooges in Parliament and as government ministers as well as members of the boards of state-owned enterprises. To expect them to clean the state is a pipe dream. 

Only we the people can sort out this mess. For far too long we as citizens of South Africa have accepted being powerless slaves of a party bureaucracy, over which we have no control. 

Only democratic control of MPs can reform South Africa from a gangster state into one that serves its people.

The solution to South Africa’s problems lies in the adoption and implementation of the Van Zyl Slabbert Commission’s majority recommendations, in which 75% (300) members of Parliament will be directly elected by us, the citizens. The citizens will elect the best from the candidates nominated by political parties and independent candidates. 

It will be the responsibility of the political parties to put forward ethical candidates for general elections. The ethical standards will be set and upheld by the people of South Africa, not by political parties over which we have no control.

The people of South Africa must now take responsibility for their destiny and elect their own members of Parliament on the basis of one person, one vote of equal value. The present 100% proportional representation — also known as a closed list system — has been a disaster for the country and must be discarded. 

The phrase “closed list” is the only official description of South Africa’s political system that is true, as the list of appointees who are parachuted into Parliament is closed to us, the people. This is not democracy, which means “power of the people”. Instead, the closed list cuts us off from any power of control over MPs and leaves us helpless while they manage our affairs. 

It is our own fault, as voters, that we have accepted being powerless for so long. We need to awaken and come together to demand that the power of choice over MPs who decide our affairs is transferred into our hands, instead of Luthuli House and other party headquarters. 

“No more apartheid between MPs and the people!” needs to be our slogan.  

We have accepted being powerless for far too long. Now is the time to resume the struggle for a further end to apartheid, as in the days of the Mass Democratic Movement. 

The current proposal of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and a parliamentary committee that only 50% of MPs (200) be directly chosen by name by us as citizens in a general election is a slap in the face.  

We must demand the right to directly elect the majority of MPs, otherwise, power will remain with party headquarters through their slavish and subservient appointees. We as citizens pay the salaries of all members of Parliament through our taxes. 

We, the citizens, as employers of all elected politicians, must have the first right to choose our representatives, ahead of any political parties. 

Let the struggle begin now to increase and expand South Africa’s democratic heritage. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • John Traas says:

    I agree 100%! South Africa is NOT a democracy, it is a country where a lot of people vote (with apologies to the political historian, Micheal Burleigh)

  • jimpowell says:

    Introduce Direct Democracy. www directdemocracy org za

  • Peter Doble says:

    It’s the true democratic ideal – actually making individual constituency MPs accountable. But of course it’s never going to happen under this totalitarian regime and certainly not in our lifetimes. Giving absolute power to the people of any country means loss of control – it’s a conundrum which even the world’s most advanced democracies are now facing.

  • Marcela Reynoso says:

    50 % or 75 %
    That’s the problem of South Africans in general when negotiating
    I’m in favor of a 75 % of members directly elected, but be real, with the ANC majority in parliament you will not achieve it!
    Take the 50 %, and keep fighting

  • Justin Hall says:

    We need to pressure parliament to ensure this happens! Well written.

  • Steve Stevens says:

    This might be a dumb question, but how do you find out who your MP actually is? Can you lobby them?

  • André Pelser says:

    Political parties choose our MPs, not the public. At local government level loyalty and subservience to the party outweighs loyalty and service to the community. One would expect activist citizens that have been involved in community NPOS, ratepayers associations etc. with a proven track record of community service to be appointed as councillors, but this is not the case. Membership of the party, participation in party activities and patronage are the criteria for selection as a public representative – despite no record of community involvement and service in the past.

  • Michael Davies says:

    The ANC leadership suffer from a form of mysogynistic narcissm because of bad parenting by the evil white forefathers. It’s very sad but hey, did you know that Narcissists cannot be cured or renewed. You can only get rid of them.

  • Linda xox Keevy says:

    I agree with the 75% . That would be the first prize but I’m inclined to go for the 50% and keep fighting.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    This goes to the heart of the political settlement in our country and the rejection of the Slabbert Commission. The decision to have a proportional system was based on the fact that you have a racially based system of settlements and you would therefore have a situation where the constituency system weighted in terms of the population distribution in urban areas would reproduce the system of Apartheid with African constituencies having a majority of MPs all the time.
    The view was that this would change over time with the economic and social mobility of the Africans. This has not happened but an elite has been produced by the electoral system reproducing the Apartheid bifurcated patrimonial state in bot rural and urban areas.
    The party proportional system one agrees has not worked at all precisely because of the constitutional and electoral system. You have currently a system where party bosses must appoint the public representative that must hold the same party leaders who are in the executive accountable. An issue and a system that has produced state capture and saved the skin of Ramaphosa from accountability on Phala Phala. We have to evaluate the current system in view of the power of leaders over MPs and Chapter 9 institutions. It is either an MP is not removable unless there is gross misconduct including criminal conduct. The ANC and the DA leadership have abused the current system. You have a very serious situation where Mantashe and Zille are calling the shots.

  • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

    Direct Democracy, as we have it in Switzerland, is not that easy to handle if you don’t have it from the beginning. We also have a federal state and the federal government is made up of only 7 ministers chosen from the parties with the most votes, which means that having to speak with one voice they have to agree between them on all proposals, laws etc. The same goes for all the different states ( cantons) which have 5 ministers each. Ask Google for all the details 🙂

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    We should also keep in mind that the Slabbert Commission proposal divided the country into 69 multi-seat constituencies of variable numbers of seats (each having between 3 and 7 seats), broadly based on the geographic borders of the current district councils and metro’s. Inside each of these constituencies the election will still be proportional, but the Commission worked this out with the expresssed vision that it should in the end become an “open list” election, i.e. where the names of the candidates of each party appear on the voting paper and the voters vote for the candidate of their choice; and then the candidates with the most votes are those that get elected and those with the least votes fall out. At that stage the idea of independent candidates was not an issue, so the commissions’ proposal did not make provision for it, but now that it is a requirement, the only sensible way to go with the electoral system is the Slabbert proposals with the inclusion of independents. The Slabbert commission also included a proportional list by which 25% of MP’s would be elected, as mentioned; this then poses a problem with the advent of independents, because normally proportional lists are linked to political parties. I proposed to parliament that the problem be solved by using the independent candidates that stood in an election as a virtual proportional list and giving the seats won by that “list” to the unelected independents who got the most votes.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    . . . Another idea that I also proposed (taken from the private members Bill of Terror Lekota) is that each independent candidate must provide a “list of beneficiaries” to which, if the candidate is elected, all the votes that the candidate got that is more than the quota needed to get elected will go, so that it is not wasted and the proportionality subsequently distorted. If such independent gets elected, such list will then also provide successors to fill the seat if the elected independent resigns or passes away, etc. I argued that the political parties have been doing the same by using their proportional list that stays with the IEC since 1994, and the candidate has earned those votes, so there can be no reason not to grant independents the same right to choose their successors and what to do with the votes brought out for them. Both the virtual list of independents that also take part in the proportional list election, and the “lists of beneficiaries” of independent candidates, are completely new ideas, but that is not a valid reason for parliament to reject it, as it seems that the do, so we shall have to see where it goes and fight like hell to get the powers that be to recognize the benefits and potential of it.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    . . . I also agree with John Traas that in effect SA’s system is not a democracy in the sense of demos = people and cratos = government, but rather government by political parties for political parties. The political parties will argue that they represent the people, but in effect their decisions are largely determined by their ideological commitments and not commitment to the people. This is why everybody is so unhappy with the system; the political parties listen more to ideological arguments than to the needs of the people.

  • John Smythe says:

    Maybe consider that it’s the ANC and the vast majority of black citizens of SA who respectively wrote the constitution and voted the ANC and its cadres into power for 30 years!! Unfortunately, there are too many people in SA who are led by their noses through fear and the (im)possibility that a “white” party will take this country forward. So, while the ANC wields that kind of power, nothing will change. We just have to try live with it and accept that the ANC doesn’t have what it takes to change its trajectory. Not for this century, anyway.

  • jill jones says:

    Absolutely right. But will the subservient sleeping giant awaken and rise up? one fears not. Although, of course, he may open one eye and swat one great arm. But, then, what happens? Can South Africans of different persuasions work together to create a real working democracy?

  • Geoff Woodruff says:

    Now you’re talking my language

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