KURUMAN residents have raised concerns that independent candidates need to be provided with funding if they are to compete on an equal footing with established political parties.
The portfolio committee on home affairs concluded public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill in the Northern Cape on Saturday.
The chairperson of the portfolio committee on home affairs, Anthea Ramolobeng, said that delegation was part of the committee that is currently on a nationwide public participation process to garner the views of South Africans about the proposed amendments.
“The two groups are currently hosting hearings in Mpumalanga and another in the Northern Cape.”
She added that the majority of participants welcomed the amendments as a reflection of a maturing democracy.
“They highlighted that the true intentions of the bill will not be achieved if independent candidates are not appropriately funded.
“They also raised concerns that without adequate funding, the amendments will undercut independent candidates, especially because they do not have sufficient funding to back their campaigns.”
Ramolobeng added that participants also raised concerns that government might not be in a position to fund independents and this, in turn, would negatively impact the elections.
“The committee was also requested to look into the feasibility of the bill being implemented especially considering what happened during the 2021 local government elections.
“Some participants questioned the feasibility of having free and fair elections due to the possibility of a long list of candidates on the ballot paper. This, according to participants, might lead to a long and cumbersome election process.
“Residents also raised a number of issues about the challenges faced by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in rolling out free and fair elections. The committee committed to look into the issues raised and promised to heighten oversight over the IEC.”
She stated that support was shown for the proportional representation model.
“According to participants, it allowed representation of women, youth and other marginalised groups who could ordinarily be excluded under a constituency-based system.”
Ramolobeng added that participants were of the view that the calculation of seats as currently proposed posed a danger for effective governance in the case where no party gets over 50 percent of the vote.
“This, according to participants, was already leading to unstable coalitions at local government level.”
The last round of public hearings in the Northern Cape took place on Saturday at the Galeshewe recreation hall in Kimberley.