Website My Vote Counts

Project Title:

An Alternative South African Political Framework

Project Overview:

South Africa’s electoral system is one that was chosen out of convenience and simplicity for the context the country found itself in at the time. Following this, electoral reform in South Africa has been at the forefront of debates related to the quality of democracy and level of accountability by public officials. Historically, two task teams have been established to investigate electoral reform, with none of the recommendations implemented. The Electoral Amendment Act (herein referred to as the Act) which became law in June 2023 called upon the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to establish a consultative electoral reform panel (herein referred to as the Panel) within four months that the Act came into effect, however there have been many delays in this regard.

Upon reflecting on the past 30 years, the 2024 General Elections and beyond, electoral reform continues to be seen as a pertinent issue. As a result, My Vote Counts has embarked on a campaign towards a civil society led electoral reform panel which will contribute towards broader political reform in South Africa. The panel’s purpose will be to make recommendations for a political system that deepen democracy. It will consider, amongst other things electoral Integrity and proportionality, transparency and accountability, campaign financing and protection of rights.

The Civil Society Electoral Reform Panel (here in referred to as CSERP) consists of nine representatives from civil society organisations who will serve as contributors, critical thinkers, and critical readers towards the development of an alternative electoral framework which will be used to advocate for electoral reform that deepens democracy and increases accountability.

 

Background:

The 1994 and 1999 General Elections were held under a transitional Constitution, and thus the proportional representation (PR) electoral system due to its simplicity at the time and the urgency to hold elections. Following this, an Electoral Task Team was established to develop a new electoral system years before the 2004 General elections. Chaired by Dr. F van Zyl Slabbert, the team made recommendations in what is now known as the van Zyl Slabbert Commission report, in which it called for a multi-member constituency system as the PR system resulted in a lack of accountability. None of the recommendations in this report were employed.

Following the notable lack of accountability by elected leaders as the years went by, and the growing temerity to perpetrate acts with seeming impunity, electoral reform became an important task that needed to be tackled. An urgent court application made in the New Nation Movement NPC and Others v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others (CCT110/19) [2020] ZACC 11; 2020 (8) BCLR 950 (CC); 2020 (6) SA 257 (CC) (11 June 2020) sought to ascertain whether the Electoral Act’s requirement for individuals to contest elections to the National Assembly and Provincial legislatures only through political party membership was constitutional. Further to this, the application challenged party proportional representation system in section 57A of, and Schedule 1A of the Electoral Act. In a landmark Constitutional Court judgement handed down in June 2020, it was found that the Electoral Act of 1998 was unconstitutional.

Subsequent to this ConCourt judgement in 2020, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (Minister of Home Affairs) established the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC). The committee was mandated with: identifying the impact of the Concourt’s ruling on Constitutional provisions; explore policy options on the electoral system that would address the defects of the Electoral Act (1998); consult with stakeholders in the development of said policy options, and lastly, make recommendations. Chaired by Mr Valli Moosa, MAC submitted a report of its findings to the Minister in June 2021. The committee was unable to reach consensus on their recommendations but managed to narrow them down to two options. Considering these recommendations, the Minister then appointed a team of legal counsel to draw up a draft of the Amendment Bill, along with possible legal implications, which was presented to Cabinet in November 2021.

As part of the project of wider electoral reform, civil society organisations such as My Vote Counts (MVC), made submissions for the Act to include the establishment of an electoral reform consultative panel. According to the Act, “the functions of the Panel are to independently investigate, consult on, report on and make recommendations in respect of potential reforms of the electoral system for the election of the National Assembly and the election of the provincial legislatures, in respect of the elections to be held after the 2024 elections”. Some of the duties of the Panel include: conducting research prior to the 2024 elections, undertake a public participation process which will deepen their understanding of the issues of the current electoral system from the perspective of the citizens, and provide a three-monthly progress report to the Minister.

Despite the Act being operational since June 2023, the establishment of this reform panel has been delayed by the Minister, missing two important deadlines; 19 September 2023, and an extension of submission which has since passed on 19 January 2023. On 20 February 2024, the National Assembly recommended that this process be reopened for a third time. On 14 May 2024, The Minister presented a short list of recommended panellists, most of which are former civil servants and/or IEC employees. Further to this, no civil society organisation representative was included, moreover youth voices are largely excluded. Despite objections from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the list was sent to National Assembly for deliberation on 16 May 2024, and was approved.

Considering the above context in which previous task teams were established before, yet none of their recommendations implemented, there is a need for civil society to use this political moment to advance the interests of the public, improve accountability and deepen democracy. MVC seeks to form an alternative process as part of the project of broad political reform in the formation of CSERP. This parallel process will be led by civil society, employing electoral and political systems expertise, along with experience in advocating for accountability, transparency, and social justice initiatives. As such, an experienced and well-versed research consultant in political reform is required to co-lead the research component of the campaign for the Panel.

The Research Consultant is required to develop a framework which maps out key inputs on various electoral systems and analyse how these are processed by the political system (e.g., legislative debates, regulatory decisions etc.). Develop recommendations on strengthening these inputs/ or provide possible alternative, while also considering how the resulting policies will impact SA.

Scope of Work:

Research Objectives:

  • Understand the problems with the current electoral system in relation to the state of our democracy.
  • Conduct an analysis of the world’s political systems (particularly successful ones/similar in context to SA).
  • Engage with formal state processes regarding electoral reform.
  • Develop a framework for an alternative electoral system that will contribute to deepening democracy and strengthening accountability.

Responsibilities:

  • Attend quarterly meetings convened by CSERP and report on his/her/their progress.
  • Collate and apply the panel’s guidance, contributions and feedback towards the electoral framework.
  • Partake in public participation verifications and/or dialogues (virtual or in person).
  • Present and socialise the panel on the final electoral framework.

Consultant requirements:

  • A proven commitment to participatory democracy and social justice.
  • Some experience in South African civil society
  • Experience in understanding, analysing, and interpreting qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Proven track record in political systems
  • As a minimum, consultant/s are required to have a Masters qualification in social science, politics, economics or equivalent. Candidates with a PHD will be preferred.

Methodology or research:

The project should preferably be a mixed methods approach. However, the project manager is open to a discussion with the consultant to determine what is best for the project.

Deliverables:

• Presentations to the CSERP
• Written progress reports
• Recommendations
• Political Framework Model (final written report)

Budget:

TBD

Timeline for Project:

July/August 2024 – March 2025

Submission guidelines:

To apply for the consultancy, email the following to boikanyo@myvotecounts.org.za by 26 July 2024.

  • A relevant and recent publication (journal article, research report policy brief) that demonstrates the consultant’s insights on political systems and/or electoral systems.
  • A short article or essay that demonstrates the consultant’s insights on political systems and/or electoral systems.
  • A curriculum vitae.
  • Thereafter, MVC will hold individual briefing sessions for further discussion with potential consultants.

 

Contact Information:

For more information, please click to see the full research brief.

Alternatively, contact Boikanyo Moloto: boikanyo@myvotecounts.org.za

 

 

To apply for this job email your details to boikanyo@myvotecounts.org.za.