Have Your Say:

Representation & Electoral System

The ‘Have Your Say’ page is intended to give you an opportunity to express support for or opposition to various issues and ideas of the time. 

How should Members of Parliament be elected?

The present system in South Africa is a list system. Parties put up a list of candidates - voters vote for the party of their choice. A party which collects 50% of the electoral votes will gain 50% of the house seats (say 200 seats) and the first 200 names on their party list get appointed to Parliament. Parties are represented according to the proportion of their electoral support. The candidates answer to the party on which list they appear.

A Constituency system is where constituencies are bordered by physical boundaries usually one parliamentary seat per constituency. Voters vote for the candidate of their choice. The elected Member of Parliament is answerable directly to his/her constituency and its members.

Constituencies can also be defined by the number of voters in a constituency, thus a large constituency may further be defined as a physical area with say 200 000 candidates and return 2 MPs to parliament. The number of MPs depends on the number of voters in the constituency. Voters vote for the candidate/s of their choice. Each elected Member of Parliament is answerable to his/her constituency and its members.

The central principle of Athenian democracy was drafting by lot, or sortition. Representatives were selected by lottery or random selection. This principle is used in the DDF's selection process for a proposed Senate or Upper House of Parliament,

Should we have a Senate or upper house of parliament?
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The DDF are proposing a Senate or an upper house of Parliament to which Cabinet and the Legislature must answer. This is a people's forum appointed by a random process from a volunteer population.

Should a Senate be a Chapter 9 institution?
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Chapter 9 of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa protects institutions and persons established under its protection from interference from politicians and political bodies (including Parliament) and is intended to guard democracy.

Who pays for the Senate?
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In order for the Senate to function independently of Parliament it needs its own funds. So Treasury should provide those funds.

How should a Senate be populated?
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The DDF are proposing that the Senate be appointed on a random basis from within peer groups demographically representative of the population, so as to get a broad based representation of the entire population in the Senate. The random process is known as sortition and has has historic roots in ancient Athens and ancient Rome

Would a Senate be another layer of government or an only layer of democracy?
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The proposed Senate is seen by the DDF as the only layer of democracy available to the population between parliamentary elections.

Should Senate Approval be required for Cabinet and Department Heads (Directors and Director Generals) appointments.
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Many countries require debate and approval for cabinet and departmental heads. The DDF believe such approval is essential in a democratic government and society.

Should a Senate have the power to recall individual members of cabinet and department heads?

What powers should the senate have in the composition of Cabinet and senior government managers? Should they be able to recall individual cabinet members and senior members of government. Perhaps they should, as an ultimate expression of displeasure at the way a cabinet member handles his portfolio and management handle their departments.

Should a Senate vote of no confidence in Parliament be able to force a general election
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When Parliament is no longer effectively representing the will of the people, perhaps the Senate should be able to have a vote of no confidence in Parliament and force a general election.

Do Special Needs People need Self-Representation?

Special needs persons are often under-represented in society, so much so that they are often 1) institutionalised and 2) nearly invisible. It is the DDF's perception that it is grossly unfair that special needs people, in whose shoes able-bodied and able-minded people cannot walk, do not represent themselves. The DDF believe special needs persons need to represent themselves and, to the best of their ability, seek recognition for their needs and prevent discrimination based on their perceived disabilities.

Should Special Needs people be represented in the proposed Senate?

Is the proposed Senate a suitable venue for representation of special needs people. Could they function adequately within the legislative processes or would they hamper and debilitate those processes? The DDF believe that Spcial Needs people are not incapable of comprehension and logical thought and the ability to make decisions based on their own self-interest, even if sometimes they need a little help getting to those decisions, so the DDF believes that the proposed Senate is a perfect forum for self representation of special needs persons.

Should an LGBT peer group exist for members of the LGBT community?
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The LGBT community often feel discriminated against in business, society and government. A gender peer group for the LGBT community would give voice to that community's concerns and rights.

How should a LGBT peer group be identified within the Gender Category?
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How a peer group is identified may foster self consciouseness. A neutral non-discriminatory label might encourage members of the community to self identify and participate where a discriminatory label may discourage participation.

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