Electoral Reform

ELECTORAL REFORM:

PDF: Electoral Reform 200820

Definitions:

  • SMF:  Senate and Municipal Forums
  • IEC:  Independent Electoral Commission.
  • Kgotla – meeting of all villagers where all can speak and all can be heard.
  • MDPN – Municipal, District, Provincial and National.
  • NCV – No Confidence Votes
  • MP – Member of Parliament.
  • PC – Provincial Councilor
  • PR – Proportional Representation.
  • DC – District Councilor
  • MC – Municipal Councilor
  • Executive – Members of Cabinet, Provincial Executive Councils, Municipal Management and Executive Councils, Mayors, Premiers, Presidents and Vice Presidents and their deputies and municipal managers and service delivery management.

Elections:

  • Elections are based on constituencies defined by the IEC under the auspices and control of the Constitutional Court
  • All elections for MDPN Legislative Assemblies will follow a 4 year cycle.
  • The elections for each respective MDPN Assembly can occur in the First, Second, Third and Fourth year from the date of a National General Election. Alternatively, Municipal and District elections can occur in the Second year and  Provincial and National Elections in the Fourth year from the date of the prior National General Election (to be decided)

Terms of Office:

  • Elected representatives in all MDPN Legislative Assemblies shall serve four year terms of office, from the date of their election or will serve until the date of the next election.
  • The proposed SMF Senators and Representatives shall serve for two years, with the oldest serving half of each body being replaced annually.

Candidates:

  • Candidates for elected MDPN assemblies stand in their own names for the constituencies in which they reside.
  • Candidates for MDPN legislative Assemblies are nominated by voters of those constituencies, suggested to be as follows: 
    •  Municipal candidates require nomination by say 200 voters from their constituencies.
    • District candidates require nomination by say 300 hundred voters from their constituencies.
    • Provincial Candidates require nomination by say 400 hundred voters from their constituencies.
    • National (Parliamentary) candidates require nomination by say 500 voters from their constituencies.
    • When there are fewer voters in a constituency than are required for nomination, the IEC in collaboration with a magistrate for the constituency can authorise the name/s to appear on the voters roll for such constituencies.
    • This means, in theory, that each candidate would need to secure nominations from, 200, 300, 400 or 500 voters, respectively, registered in their respective constituencies.
    • It should be noted that 500 signatures are required in support of a new political party registration, so the threshold for a parliamentary candidate is quite high.
  • Each candidate who has been thus nominated will appear on the ballot sheet for that constituency for the first round of voting.
  • If there are more than (say) 5 candidates, the 5 candidates who secure the most votes in the first round ballot will go forward to the next round of voting.
  • If there are less than 5 candidates on the ballot sheet, all those on the ballot sheet will automatically go forward to the next round of voting.
  • At the second round, if there is no clear winner receiving 50%+1 of the votes the three candidates receiving the most votes will appear on the ballot for the next round.
  • The voting will continue until there is a clear winner receiving 50%+1 (or more) of the vote.

Funding for Candidates:

  • Nominated candidates shall be funded and resourced equally by the IEC sufficient that they can mount an effective campaign to address the needs of their constituencies and constituents.
  • Government shall provide the IEC directly with the necessary funds in order to meet the above requirement.
  • The IEC shall provide the candidates directly with those funds and resources and the candidates shall directly make use of those funds and  resources.
  • Those funds and resources must be used in support of the candidates’ candidacies and may not be used for any other purpose.  
    • To use the resources or funds for any other purpose shall be a criminal act.
  • Directly means that no body or organisation of whatsoever nature may receive those funds or resources or make use of those funds or resources on behalf of or in place of the intended candidates.
  • The candidates shall account in detail to the IEC on how they disbursed those funds and how they made use of those resources.

Means of Appointment: 

  • At each round of the elections, voters may vote for three candidates of their choice, in order of preference, first, second or third preference.
  • The First choice gives the candidate three votes, Second choice gives the candidate two votes and third choice gives the candidate one vote.
  • The votes are accumulated for each candidate.
  • The candidate recording the most votes is elected.
  • In the event of a tied vote or there being no clear winner with 50%+1 of the vote, the tied candidates or the three candidates with the most votes each go forward to a further round of voting until a clear winner emerges.

No Confidence Votes:

  •  Each voter may cast a vote of no confidence in the candidates, in place of voting for any candidates.
  • In line with the votes, a NCV carries a three, two or one vote which the voter can select while voting.
  • The votes are tallied for the NCV votes as for candidate votes..
  • The NCV totals are carried into the resulting assembly as a proportional vote against every bill or motion before the assembly for the duration of that assembly’s term.
  • Thus, if NCV votes are equal to 25% of all the votes cast, the assembly would need a 66%+1 majority to give an effective 50%+1 majority for that vote for that assembly.
  • In effect the NCVs mean:
    1. The elected members carry an NCV handicap into the affairs of the assembly.
    2. To correct that, for the next election or round of the elections, candidates and the parties that support them have to win back the confidence of their constituents so they are willing to vote for the candidates and not the NCV.

Hung Parliament:

  • A hung parliament is a parliament where no business can be conducted because it does not have the necessary authority or legitimacy (by way of an available majority vote) with which to function.
  • A Hung parliament can occur if there are more NCVs than there are votes for candidates.
  • So, if the total NCVs amount to 50%+1 of all the votes cast in an election, the Parliament cannot function and is effectively a Hung Parliament
  • If the governmentt consistently is unable to conduct business because it cannot muster a majority vote (accounting for NCV votes) Parliament cannot function and is effectively a Hung Parliament.
  • In the event of a Hung Parliament:
    • The Cabinet and the Presidency are suspended.
    • Parliament is suspended
    • The country must go back to the polls, again, until a functioning parliament results.
  • An equivalent process shall be followed for any other national, provincial, regional or municipal assembly.

Recall Votes:

  • After one year from an election date, Voters can remove MPs , District Councilors, MPCs and MCouncillors by recall votes or in the case of OPEN PR Lists, these lists can be re-ordered so the worst ones fall off the list (as in Norway).
  • Constituency based petitions submitted to the IEC,  with the same support required for candidates to appear on ballot sheets, can trigger a recall vote.
  • A Citizens’ Forum Notice can also trigger recall votes. (cf Collaborative Democracy).
  • The IEC must hold a Recall Vote within 30 days of the date of submission of such petition or notice.
  • The IEC must declare the results of the vote no more than 7 days from the date of the Recall Vote
  • Parliament and the affected member are bound by the results of the recall vote.

Impeachment:

  • The IEC can run weekly approval polling for the executive at all levels of government.
  • Where the approval polling reaches a given low (or where disapproval level is significantly high, depending and to be defined), such polls can trigger impeachment hearings.
  • A Citizens’ Forum Notice can also trigger impeachment hearings (cf Collaborative Democracy).
  • The following bodies can conduct impeachment hearings on their respective executives.
    1. Parliament, The Senate, Provincial Councils, Provincial Senates (if they exist), District Councils and District Forums (if they exist), Municipal Councils and Municipal Forums.
    2. To be clear, the Parliament and or the Senate can jointly or severally impeach members of the National Executive and Municipal Councils and or Municipal Forums can jointly or severally impeach members of municipal executives, and so on.
  • These bodies 
    1. must initiate impeachment hearings if triggered by IEC polls or a Citizens’ Forum Notice.
    2. may initiate impeachment hearings if a motion to do so is passed by a simple majority (50%+1) or a super Majority (66%+1) vote, of the relevant body (to be decided).
    3. In this case, NCV votes count for impeachment.
  • Impeachment hearings must be conducted by an appropriately ranked member of the Judiciary (for example a High Court Judge in the case of a national executive impeachment hearing or a lower court judge in the case of a municipal executive hearing), with two assessors, and counsel for and against impeachment, as in a normal court action.
  • The body conducting the hearings will act as jurors on the matter of the impeachment and a simple majority (or super majority) (to be decided) for impeachment will decide the matter.
  • If a member of the executive is impeached, he is dismissed immediately from his post and may never stand for re-appointment to that or any other post in any executive in South Africa.

Parliamentary Vote of No Confidence:

  • If a government is unable to pass its agenda through parliament, parliament can call for a vote of no confidence in the government.
  • If a vote of no-confidence in the government is passed, this would normally result in the government falling and for hopefuls to seek support for the formation of an alternative government (note, not an alternative parliament).
    • Often in such a fractured government this can lead to coalition governments drawing on the support of more than one parliamentary party or group.
  • Consistent failure in this effort can lead to a President dissolving Parliament and calling for a general election.

Snap Elections:

  • A snap election can be called in such circumstances.
  • Usually such an election can occur with as little as 30 days or 90 days warning and is often called by a government under siege of parliament in order to change the composition of parliament and in the hope that a newly constituted parliament will support the government’s agenda.
  • Elections of this nature are effectively referendums on the desire of the voters to retain or discard the existing government.

Other means of Direct Democracy:

  • Other means of Direct Democracy should be embraced:

Collaborative Democracy:

  • The proposed Senate will run an on-line public forum (a Citizens Forum) which anyone can contribute to by way of Proposals (tax all big nosed persons double) and Debate (that is a bad idea) and can Vote a proposal up or down in importance and support.
  • Any proposal which reaches a certain threshold of support and for which a Citizens’ Forum Notice is issued, can trigger a bill before Parliament and or a Public Referendum, much as a petition can trigger such actions, and or trigger a Recall Vote and or Impeachment Hearings.
  • These proposals can relate to local, municipal, regional, provincial or national laws or regulations or acts.
  • All such acts and or referendums will be subject to Senate review, as all other acts and regulations are.
  • The purpose is to allow public participation in the legislative process so as to give voice to the aspirations of the ordinary citizens of South Africa.
  • This process is called Collaborative Democracy.

Involvement of Civics:

  • Civics (organisations that provide services to their communities) are grass root citizen assemblies (such as but not limited to Ratepayers and Residents Associations and kgotlas) who need access to all levels of government so as to express needs, largely but not necessarily limited to service delivery, and to enable accountability and consequences at all levels of Government for a lack of service delivery.
  • To enable this, the DDF envisage two data bases, also under the auspices of the Senate,
  • A Civic Affairs Database (CAD)
  • records the affairs of the civic, namely specific failures in service delivery, and scores public servants, elected and appointed, according to their performance, and a second database, a Customer Review Database (CRD), to record levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with services, as perceived by the contributors to the databases.
  • The CAD will be written to by authorised members of registered civics and merit or de-merits are earned by involved public servants.
  • The CAD can be queried and accessed in read-only mode by any member of the public or government and can be used as justification for recall votes and or impeachment actions against elected officials or executive or management at all levels of government.
    • The idea is that when demerits reach a certain threshold a demerit report is generated and e-mailed to responsible parties and to the Senate and the effected Municipal Forums and Civics who can hold the responsible parties accountable for their actions.
  • The Customer Review Database (CRD)
  • is a more general database rating municipalities and wards for levels of satisfaction and / or dissatisfaction and can be entered up by any member of the public, rating various services (water, electricity, security, education & etc) say on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest possible rating for each agency/service within a municipality or ward.
    • The idea here is that any member of the public can access the data and assess the degree of customer satisfaction for any given ward or suburb or municipality and be able to use this information to guide his or her decisions regarding investment in the area of interest (do I move to or invest in suburb A, for example). It will also serve as a measure for responsible members of municipalities to become aware of and address possible shortfalls in those municipalities, creating a positive feedback loop for improved service delivery. The corollary is that when challenged on the shortfalls of their areas of responsibility, officials can not plead ignorance of such shortfalls. So this is a win-win service and database for responsible management and employees in any given area, and for their customers.

In order to prevent scamming and spamming, it is anticipated that contributors to both the CAD and CRD must identify themselves (sign in) and be verified, although their identity can be withheld from view on enquiry.

Referendums:

  • Referendums usually are issue-specific elections.
  • They are often called by extra-parliamentary groups seeking to introduce a law or agenda that a government is otherwise unwilling to support.
  • Process:
    • Usually a group or individual will put a proposal to the electorate in the form of a petition, which must be signed by a minimum number of registered voters.
    • If the necessary support is achieved a referendum is held in which all the voters in a constituency can vote on the proposal.
    • These constituencies can be local, regional, provincial or national.
    • A Citizens’ Forum Proposal with sufficient support can also trigger a referendum.  
    • Often, a single referendum may be held for more than one proposal.
    • Usually a simple majority is required to pass a referendum.
    • If a referendum is successful, the proposal becomes law.   

Senate:

  • Strictly speaking the Senate and Municipal forums should not be part of an electoral debate because …
    • The Senate and Municipal Forums are not elected but are selected bodies, selected by a process called Sortition.
    • Sortition:
      • Is a process of random selection from amongst volunteers
  • Peer Groups:
    • In the DDF Model, the volunteers are identified by their demographics, which the DDF label Categories and Peer Groups.
    • Categories included are (in no particular order):
      • Age,
      • Culture
      • Education.
      • Gender
      • Income
      • Occupation,
      • Religions
      • Traditional Rulers
    • The Categories are further identified as Peer Groups, as follows:
      • Age: 13 to 16, 17 to 20, 21 to 35, 36 to 50, 51 to 65, 66 to 80, 81+.
      • Culture: Zulu, Khosa, Sotho, Mixed, San, European, Asian.
      • Education: No Formal, Primary, Secondary, Tertiary. Graduate, Post Graduate.
      • Gender: Male, Female, LGBTQ.
      • Income/Wealth: Poverty, Low Income, Middle Income, High Income, Super Rich.
      • Occupation: Unskilled, Skilled, Artisan, Professional, Student, Academic, Home Carers (Incl Domestic Workers).
      • Religion: Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hindu, Atheist, none.
      • Traditional Leaders: one group.
        • This list is not definitive and may be changed as needed and without derogation of the rights of any existing peer group.
        • Each peer group has equal rights and duties within the Senate.
        • Perhaps there should be a further category, viz Provincial, and the Council of Provinces should be absorbed into the Senate.

Selection:

  • Initially, ten volunteers are selected by sortition for each peer group.
  • Each year, a further 5 are selected and replace the 5 oldest serving members of each peer group, who drop out from the Senate.
  • In the first cycle, the 5 to drop out are selected by lottery and or volunteer to drop out.
  • Past members of the Senate:
    • Can volunteer for selection in a future Senate
    • Can work for the senate in support or other roles (mentors & etc) if suitably qualified. Having previously served as a Senator would be a recommendation and could be a qualification for such roles.
    • Even those employed in various roles in the Senate or perhaps in Municipal Forums) return to the streets as ordinary members of society, that is, without favour or privilege.
      • This will encourage Senate members to act in their own best interests for when they return to the streets and therefore, hopefully, in the best interests of their peers in the streets.
  • The actual selection process is ‘names out of a hat’ (or an equivalent process) for each peer group, from the volunteer population.

Function and Purpose:

  • The purpose of the Senate is to serve the interests of all the people of the land.
  • The function is to approve or reject Legislation and or Regulation emanating from Parliament ( The Legislative assembly) and or the Executive.
  • Simply put, Parliament and the Executive no longer approve their Bills and Regulations, but must seek the approval of the peoples’ house (the Senate) for those proposals to become law.

Voting:

  • Each Senator has one vote.
  • There are three choices.  They are for or against the motion or for a referendum.
    • If a simple majority of votes are for a referendum, then that triggers a referendum for that bill or regulation.
  • The Senate needs a Super Super Majority (say 80%)  to approve legislation or regulation presented to the Senate for approval.
    • The purpose of that  is that no regulation or legislation is approved without the support of the vast majority of the Senate and therefore, hopefully, the people .

Veto:

  • Additional to the voting (above), any peer group may apply to the constitutional court to apply a veto on a matter which has been approved by the Senate as a whole, but which prejudices the interests or rights of, or discriminates against, that peer group.
  • Where a peer group is thus prejudiced but is not represented in the Senate, any other peer group may go through the Veto process on behalf of the unrepresented peer group.  
    • (eg. The LGBTQ peer group might veto a bill prejudicing ‘same gender parents’, which group may not be represented in the Senate).
  • Such a veto may be adopted with a simple majority of the peer group or with approval of the whole of the peer group (to be decided).

Abuses of the Senate:

  • Abuses of the senate, that is, applying external undue pressure or influence on a senator or peer group or the Senate as a whole, including attempts at bribery or such other similar acts of influence, will be deemed to be a criminal act.
    • This obviously precludes the efforts of support staff (such as mentors or expert consultants or MPs, speaking for or against matters) who are engaged by the Senate to inform the Senate or Senators on matters before the Senate, from being labelled as abusers of the Senate.
  • Any Senator who succumbs to such influence will be removed from office  and face criminal prosecution. 
  • Any person who engages in such abuses will face criminal prosecution and if found guilty, will face the harshest sentences possible under the law.

Municipal Forums:

  • Municipal forums and their members are selected from the constituencies of the municipality of which they are a part, but otherwise function in exactly the same manner and have exactly the same purpose and function as the Senate, but their jurisdiction is that of the Municipality of which they are a part.
  • Additionally, it is suggested that the peer groups of each Municipal Forum have (say) 4 members each, instead of the proposed 10 members of the Senate peer groups.