Picture: Twitter: @HermanMashaba
Peoples Dialogue founder and former Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, is set to revolutionise South Africa’s party-based voting system by introducing what he envisages to be true democracy where people will directly select candidates to stand as councillors, mayors, parliamentarians and even the president of the country.
The People’s Dialogue initiative followed three months of consultation with various people and interested groups. According to Mashaba, the People’s Dialogue had been inundated with submissions from ordinary South Africans who believe that the current political system was not working for them. Those who made their submission expressed frustration with imposition of candidates by political parties on them as voters.
“This system serves political parties and career politicians, and not the people that vote for them. While there is no question that our electoral system must change, this would take considerable time. That is why our new political party will begin this process by revolutionising candidate selection by giving voters the final say over who they want their candidates to be,” Mashaba said.
He said they planned to launch a political party which would candidates to apply to stand for political office in their respective communities and cities, or be nominated by the community. The process would involve town hall debates to enable voters to assess the candidates before primary elections to nominate the candidate among the applicants.
This approach is a first for South Africa, as presently candidates are imposed by political parties for provincial and national elections in terms of the PR system. It’s only at local government level where a mixed system of PR and democratic ward election are used. The Slabbert Commission once suggested a constituency system for all elections but its recommendations were never applied.
On Monday, Mashaba said that in the 2021 local government election, his envisaged party would ensure that candidates for ward council and mayorship were voted for directly by voters. Similarly all provincial and national parliamentarians, premiers and the president would be voters’ choices for the 2024 general election.
“Once elected, our voters will also be given the opportunity to assess the performance of their public representatives. If a public representative fails that assessment, we will replace them with another candidate selected by the voters of that community,” he said.
“By adopting this system, we will have elected public representatives who are loyal and accountable to those who elected them, and not to the political party. This is what is needed in South Africa. While we push for electoral reform in our country, we will practise values that we preach by implementing a candidate selection that puts voters first in a very real, immediate and practical way,” he said.
He was adamant that the current political system has to change so that politicians were directly accountable to voters, not to “self-serving political parties”.
“Public servants should serve the public – not a party, and not themselves,” he said.
Mashaba is planning an extensive campaign to be rolled out in the next three months to inform voters of how they can participate in the candidate selection process. He did not say when his political party would be established.
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