Home South African Duduzane Zuma cries foul over delayed Electoral Amendment Act

Duduzane Zuma cries foul over delayed Electoral Amendment Act

258

Duduzane Zuma has made claims that there is a deliberate political game at play to delay the new Electoral Amendment Act of 2023 in order to stop independent candidates, including himself, from contesting next year’s general elections.

Duduzane Zuma. File picture: Boitumelo Pakkies, African News Agency (ANA)

DUDUZANE Zuma has made claims that there is a deliberate political game at play to delay the new Electoral Amendment Act of 2023 in order to stop independent candidates, including himself, from contesting next year’s general elections.

The act gives those who want to contest the elections as independent candidates a list of requirements that they would have to meet in order to qualify, and such requirements are said to be complicated, time-consuming and more lenient to political parties.

Zuma is not the only one who wants to stand as an individual – according to the Independent Candidate Association (ICA) there are 29 others who have raised their hands, and the number might grow over time.

President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the act after it was passed by both houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

Talking to Sunday Independent, the son of former president Jacob Zuma made the allegations after National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo revealed during a recent media briefing that the act might only be ready after the elections because of challenges to implement it.

The ICA has taken the act to the Constitutional Court, seeking to have certain sections declared invalid and unconstitutional.

“I am not worried about people that are trying to play these political games with the rules and regulations. It would be great (to contest), but if they try to stifle independent candidates or anyone willing to stand up, as unfortunate as it is, it is not something that concerns me,” Zuma said.

ICA chairperson Dr Michael Louis said there were more people who would want to contest but were waiting for the outcome of the court matter. “We believe that they would be more than 50.”

The act introduced a constituency-based electoral system to run concurrently with the existing proportional representation system. The Electoral Reform Consultation Panel is yet to consult and recommend potential electoral system reforms.

The ICA, together with 40 other civil society groups, including Mmusi Maimane’s One South Africa Movement, have lodged the case but are waiting for proceedings to start.

Louis said the complications include that each person to qualify to contest would require to collect at least 13,200 signatures from registered voters in one’s province, depending on how many voters are in that province.

“In the past elections, each political party only had to get 1,000 signatures to contest the provincial or national elections. Now, to get 13,200 signatures would take an independent candidate to employ about six people for eight hours a day for six months. Do you think it is fair? An independent candidate does not have the money to employ six people for six months,” Louis said.

ICA is also concerned that for an independent candidate to get a seat in Parliament, he/she would need between 87,000 and 92, 000 votes, whereas in the past elections a party would have required 43,000 votes to get one seat.

“That is why we have to fight because, at the moment, I cannot encourage a person to stand (as an independent candidate) because the Parliament has made it impossible for him to stand,” Louis said.

He said it would be unconstitutional for the elections to proceed without the act being implemented since it has already been declared.

The elections were expected to be held in May next year, but Louis suggested that they should be postponed to August.

“We believe that would be enough to constitutionally remedy the current act, according to our court applications and for the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) to prepare for the free and fair election.

“The South African Constitution says that if the elections have to be postponed, they can be postponed for the maximum of six months, so the Constitution currently gives us until August next year, which is more than a year, to hold the elections, which I believe is enough time to have the Constitutional Court hear our application plus for the Parliament to remedy what the constitutional court will say,” he said.

However, according to Masondo, the elections could not be postponed.

“We are confident that things will go well and that elections will take place, that the new electoral system will be considered after the elections, (and) that many of the challenges that are there (in the act) will be addressed thereafter,” Masondo told the media recently.

Masondo said Parliament accepted the rights of the members of the public to challenge the electoral system “as it stands”, but the policy-makers do not think the court process should unduly delay the elections “because there are many other negative implications that one can associate that kind of idea with”.

“But our trust is really that, and we remain optimistic that the new law will enable the elections to take place in 2024 and that, indeed, the new electoral system will only be considered after the elections,” Masondo said.

According to Louis, prior to the act being passed, the ICA and others made numerous attempts to highlight the complications.

“We attended more than 30 hearings, and we submitted more than 80 oral and written submissions, and we told the parliament exactly what was in our court case, but Parliament did not listen to what we said, and they just went to make their own act,” Louis said.

Zuma said it was unfortunate that there was an attempt to retain the status quo that only favours political parties to contest.

Zuma has repeatedly declared that he would want to throw his hat in the ring in an attempt to unseat Ramaphosa, who defeated his step-mother Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the 2017 ANC conference.

Although it seemed impossible, Zuma remained adamant that if he were to be given a chance to contest, he would topple Ramaphosa.

“If the elections come around and there is an opportunity to stand, we are going to stand, and we are going to win, but we are not going to be placed in a corner where people play games,” he said.

When asked if he believed the act was deliberately delayed, Zuma said: “100% definitely. If the space opens up to potential new candidates, the people who are in charge right now understand that the game is over.

“So we understand that they are playing this delay tactic. It is unfortunate (and) unacceptable that they are doing so.

“But if that is what they want to do, they must enjoy doing so, but we are not conforming to what they are trying to do, we are not going to be put in a box that they are trying to put us into,” he said.

Zuma is looking at forming a government that would be inclusive of all races and gender and people of all ages and religious associations as long as there are fresh ideas of how to take the country forward, and he said he has enough support locally and internationally to win.

“In our business world, we are going to bring that experience into the political world, and we are going to change it (politics), and I have no doubt about it.

“Our government needs to be run as a business, as a corporation based on credible people, capable people, experienced people. Experience does not mean you need to be in your 60s because there are experienced people these days who are in their 20s and 30s,” he said.

Previous articleTwitter’s troubles are perfectly timed for Meta
Next articleYellen sees ‘progress’ in rocky US-China ties, expects more communication