In an article on the Direct Election Bill that was launched yesterday and which will be tabled in Parliament next week, Christian marketplace leader Dr Michael Louis invites South Africans to seize a unique opportunity to participate in a process aimed at putting governmental power in the hands of the people as envisaged in our Constitution. The bill was launched on the steps of Parliament yesterday by One South Africa Movement founder Mmusi Maimane, COPE president Mosiuo Lekota, and Louis. Today Maimane embarked on a countrywide tour to identify leaders and community leaders who could become independent candidates for future elections.
On the eve of the Government Gazette publishing the new draft electoral bill, I am reminded of the fact that Christians are mandated to go out into the world and do more than just evangelise: they should be prepared to “lead”.
In a landmark judgement in June in a case brought by The New Nation Movement, the Constitutional Court declared the Electoral Act to be unconstitutional. Specifically, it found that the legislation strips citizens of the right not to affiliate themselves to a political party. Individual candidates, it ruled, must be allowed to contest elections independently.
Parliament has been given 24 months by the Concourt to amend the legislation. During this time it has promised to engage all stakeholders from political parties, to civil society and of course the citizens at large on the appropriate steps forward, as we reshape our electoral system.
South Africans, it would seem, have an unprecedented kairos opportunity to help define and participate in a process to reflect, after 27 years, our mature democracy. We need to fulfil the aspirations of the Freedom Charter, “for the people, by the people“.
Our challenge is not the new Electoral Act. This will happen. The ultimate goal is our self-government and self-determination with our newfound power transferred back to the people. Representative government depends for its health on the values that we can leave as a generational legacy to the next generation. These are the values of the importance of the nuclear family, jurisdictional government and localism.
It is time for us to start preparing ourselves as the Church to lead by going into a process of self-restoration and teaching ourselves to be “statesmen” and to disciple our beloved country by obeying the Great Commission.
Like the sons of Issachar “who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do “ (Chronicles 12 verse 32), we need to start thinking about how to lead. We need to start thinking local and to invest strategically in how we “tend to our own gardens “ (Genesis 2 verse 15).
As Christians, we often try and solve national problems without first solving neighbourhood and city problems, which reinforces the centralisation of power. We must recognise the truth that problems are best solved by those who are locally involved. This is true even when we are qualified to solve large problems by virtue of our skills and training. Caring and leadership become more effective when we start in our own backyards.
The path to #Direct Elections begins today
That is why the draft electoral bill that is being promoted will soon serve the interests of every South African, and most particularly those who remain marginalised, neglected and increasingly alienated from the politics of the day — by ensuring the direct elections of accountable community leaders to Parliament.
The draft bill seeks to:
- Create a direct relationship between voters and their members of parliament.
- Give effect to the constitutional provision that states “every adult citizen has the right to stand for public office, and if elected, to hold office”.
- Curtail the excessive power political parties currently wield.
- Ensure people can choose the best-of-the-best representatives from the business, education, health, scientific and academic sectors, as well as community leaders who know best the needs of their communities.
- Ensure that public representatives will answer only to voters in their communities.
It’s important for me to state that this draft bill is not an anti-political-party bill. I will always recognise the invaluable role that political parties do fulfil and especially the role that a political party that I was a founder member of, has fulfilled — and still fulfils.
My aim, in personally pursuing this important legal course of action, is for four reasons:
- It’s a constitutional action. If we believe we are a constitutional state, we must respect constitutionality. To this end, I also want to recognise and honour the commitment of a number of stakeholders, including New Nation Movement, Princess Chantal Revell, Linda Gobodo, Mkangeli Matomela and Landile Shembe. Our victory is a collective victory of obedience, passion and faith.
- We need to have accountable, responsible elected legislators who are directly accountable to their communities. This was recommended by numerous reports and commissions over many years.
- Ten million voters did not vote in the last election. We need a new electoral system that the majority regard as representative in order to incentivise them to participate and vote.
- We need to attract statesmen and women who will bring a wider field of skills and experience to serve the nation by drawing from people who are called to governance but do not want to be part of a political party.
Taking cognisance of the collapse of municipalities in SA, the draft bill divides the nation into 52 voting districts for elections to take place. It puts scaffolding in place for each district to be represented by a national MP, a provincial MP and a local MP, thereby strengthening inter-government relationships.
It is in this light that we yesterday, formally announced the introduction of the proposed new law, the #Direct Election Bill, to be tabled before Parliament in the fourth quarter. The memorandum of the bill, in the name of Honourable Mosiuo Lekota, leader of Cope, will be gazetted next Friday and become open for public comment.
All South Africans are invited to make their voices heard and to email written submissions and representations regarding the proposed content of the draft bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 30.
I’m also very pleased to confirm our School of Governance Webinar, “The Great Reset — Be the Change” on September 23 to 25. We have great statesman and stateswoman with profound political, judicial and social experience to be our keynote speakers to train and equip us to lead. Details of how you can participate in the webinar will be released later.
In conclusion: are we going to be ready to rescue our families and beloved nation? It’s time today to take hold of our newfound power.
How we going to change a land of philosophers and liberators into a nation of “doers“? Are we going to keep thinking about what we should be doing or doing something about it? Are we going to just shrug our shoulders and blame our infrastructure, finances, bureaucracy, political system, or are we going to roll up our sleeves, get up and do something about it?
The highest service that any man or woman can do is to serve the purposes of God in his or her own generation. The true liberator hungers to be relevant and to make a difference.
Let’s all strive to have a “hero’s heart “ and so be like David, who “After he had served the purposes of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers “ (Acts 13 verse 36)
Dr Michael Louis
One South Africa Movement