The tabling of a private member’s bill with the Speaker of the National Assembly yesterday, that could empower voters to elect the best candidates in next year’s election was a miraculous answer to prayer, said a man who has been waging an 18-months legal battle to reform the Electoral Act.
Dr Michael Louis, who drafted the bill which was tabled by Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota and supported by ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said he believes 100% that it will enable independent candidates to stand in the next election.
Explaining the miracle behind yesterday’s developments in parliament, Louis, who was a founding member of the ACDP and is an ex-MEC in the Western Cape provincial legislature, said that South Africa’s current, slightly-modified proportional representation electoral system gave political parties power without accountability to voters. Since July 2016 he has been fighting a legal battle, through the Constitutional Court and the Western Cape High Court, based on provision in Section 19 of the Constitution for citizens to stand for public office.
While not dismissing his legal argument, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) argued that there was insufficient time to amend the Electoral Act in time for the 2019 election.
Louis said God intervened in the matter when he attended the It’s Time Pretoria prayer event on October 27.
“When I heard the cry of a million people for our nation, I said to the Lord: ‘You know I’ve been giving it all I can — You need to give me a breakthrough’.”
Soon after his plea to the Lord, while he was talking to a friend in the VIP tent, they were approached by Lekota, who knew them.
He friend asked the Cope leader how they could save South Africa. Lekota replied it would require a change to the electoral system.
Louis responded by arranging a meeting with Lekota the next day and 48 hours later Lekota spoke on a motion of national interest in parliament and the bill was tabled.
“I always think of the God of ‘suddenlies’. God really acts very quickly if He needs to. It was really stunning to experience it and since then the momentum has been absolutely unbelievable.”
Asked whether the IEC would not still say there was not enough time to change the law for next year’s election, he said they would have to change, because there was a constitutional dilemma in his court papers.
“I did say to the IEC they can go ahead with the election but that I am already giving them notice that if they don’t give the right for independents to stand I will declare the elections unconstitutional and null and void,” he said.
Louis said that the problem in SA is that voters have ceded power to political parties who are free to do whatever they like, with no accountability to the voters.
“It is time as the public to take back the right we ceded to political parties and to nominate the person we think should be in parliament and hold him accountable,” he said.
He said that only 15 million people out of an electorate of 25 million go to the polls. There was a need to try and attract the 10 million people who currently did not vote.
He believed electoral reform that empowers people to have a direct say in their representatives would help to mobilise voters and would offer a wonderful opportunity for Christians.
Listen to a Biznews podcast in which Dr Michael Louis explains the electoral system issue in more depth: