Put an end to an electoral system that only suits the fat cats

The notion of ubuntu is being erased from the hearts and minds of our people. Capitalism encourages selfish individualism; it has done away with morals and solidarity, creating competition between people, societies and nations. It has divided societies into classes and promoted the antisocial principle of the survival of the fittest.

Pursuing wealth at any cost leads to immorality, lawlessness and corruption. Colonisation and the scramble for Africa in the 19th century were results of this mindset. Capitalism and imperialism can only survive in an electoral system that serves the interests of those who own the means of production.

Even after decolonisation, the electoral system was used to fund particular political parties and individuals, or to plan coups and create rebel movements in countries where capital felt its interests were threatened. Political parties continue to protect the interests of capitalists and imperialists.

Decolonisation meant independence, but on the colonial masters’ terms – most newly “independent” countries acquiesced to indirect colonisation. Today, many former African colonies continue to pay a colonial “tax” to their former colonisers, which adds up to as much as 40% of their gross domestic product, in the form of loans and aid with stringent conditions attached.

The party-based proportional representation electoral system takes away voters’ rights. It only values them at election time. Their participation in influencing policy ends there and they are forgotten until the next elections.

It is said that voters can change their conditions by voting out a ruling party. But changing parties does not make a fundamental difference because the proportional representation system remains intact and is prone to manipulation and abuse by party leaders.

And then, once in power, party leaders and officials are able to loot the state and undermine the national interest. Parties conceal corruption and harbour political criminals. The party system promotes dictatorship: we now have people who think they are ordained to be presidents for life.

People who think like that are failures. They think they are irreplaceable and put themselves above the national interest. They’re sick and don’t deserve our respect. They want to continue stealing from the state to protect their stolen wealth.

The answer is to dismantle and replace the entire system. The party system must be taken as a transitional stage of human development in the quest to make the world a better place to live in. It must be replaced by a constituency-based system that provides for participatory democracy and direct elections of public representatives by voters without party intervention.

A constituency-based electoral system demands transparency, clean governance and accountability. We must do away with proportional representation completely.

Wards should be constituencies within specific municipal boundaries. District municipalities and metros must form the provincial constituencies, and the provinces would then form a national constituency. Voters would exercise their rights fully by directly voting for the presidents, premiers, mayors and other public representatives.

The country’s president will have to choose the Cabinet and the speakers in Parliament from directly elected public representatives, not friends and party colleagues. The right to appoint people to such positions must be removed from the presidency. The presidency should recommend and motivate such appointments to the National Assembly, where 50% plus one should approve and endorse such appointments. The same procedure should be followed in the axing and replacement of the people who serve in such appointments.

The same process should be followed at the provincial and municipal levels, taking power away from individuals in influential positions because absolute power corrupts. If appointments of public representatives to the Cabinet, to the provincial executive councils and the mayoral committees is left in the hands of individuals, it compromises the system and makes it vulnerable to corruption. A constituency-based electoral systems empower voters to exercise their rights fully.

It is the right of the people to vote, to participate in governance, to hold public representatives accountable and to recall them directly, without those representatives being protected by their political parties.

Mpho Ramakatsa is a former Economic Freedom Fighters MP

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