South Africa: Electoral reform

In June of 2020, South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled that sections of the Electoral Act are unconstitutional. More specifically, the barring of independent candidates from contesting for seats in the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures. The Court ruled that Parliament must amend the Electoral Act to allow independent candidates to contest for elections. Parliament was given 24 months amend the relevant legislation.


Briefing of the Parliamentary ad hoc Committee on Electoral Reform

16 Mar 2021

In response to a request for a briefing on electoral reforms from the ad hoc Committee on Electoral Reform of the Home Affairs Department of the South African Parliament, The Governance Institutions and Political Processes (GIPPS) Senior Programme Manager, Grant Masterson, briefed its members on various electoral systems on 16 March 2021 via Zoom meeting. The briefing covered the broad electoral system types, strengths and weaknesses of these models, and covered some practical examples of hybrid/mixed models in practice.

Inclusive Society Institute Panel on Electoral Reform

Jul 2020 - Jan 2021

The Inclusive Society Institute (ISI), a South African NGO, approached EISA's Executive Director to participate in their independent process towards a submission to Parliament on electoral system reform. Grant Masterson acted as proxy for the Executive Director in two online discussions of the ISI Panel on Electoral Reform to develop proposals in response to the Constitutional Court judgement.

The high-level panel, with rich and varied experiences in legal, electoral and political processes, included former MPs, lawmakers, judges, Roelf Mayer, Chairperson of the ISI board, and former EISA board member Jørgen Elklit and former EISA staff members Dren Nupen and Ebrahim Fakir.

Two meetings were held (20 July and 3 August), with the stated goal of producing a set of proposals for consideration by the National Assembly on how to adjust South Africa's electoral system to give effect to the judgement and strengthen the existing electoral processes. Further meetings were planned at regular two-week intervals for the next two months.

A further four meetings were held on the 24 August, 7 September, 28 September, and 16 October with two further meetings to discuss the final report to be submitted for consideration by South Africa's Parliament in 2021 scheduled. The ISI Panel subsequently completed its work and the final report submitted to Parliament.