South Africa faces the general election next year with political, economic and social problems of immeasurable proportions, many of these - such as corruption, state capture and maladministration - created under ANC government. We cannot avoid the hard fact that this is a crisis election for ANC, as well as for the country.
It was ANC together with the outgoing apartheid regime that created the political system in which corruption rose to the head of state without a challenge, the offspring of our 100% proportional representation parliamentary electoral laws. This electoral system makes all ANC MPs accountable to one single source, Luthuli House. There is no escaping the responsibility of ANC. We had the courage to take up arms against the apartheid regime. We have to have courage now to face our own responsibility for the mess our unaccountable electoral system has created for the citizens.
Under the electoral system we created, voters have no power to choose or remove a single MP or provincial councillor, and only half of municipal councillors. All that voters can do at an election is tick a box for a political party. Party headquarters has all the power over MPs relating to their conduct, and the people as voters have none. No wonder we have sunk in corruption.
It is 63 years since the Freedom Charter promised "The People Shall Govern!", but voters are still not free to elect any MP by name, who they trust, or refuse to vote for a candidate who they know is corrupt. The scandal when Makhosi Khoza was forced to resign as ANC MP last year after she called on President Zuma to resign shows that good MPs are powerless to stand up against corruption. Unlike in many countries across the world where voters in constituencies choose MPs directly as individuals to represent them, South African voters had no power to protect Makhozi Khoza as their own MP.
This shows it is not true that the people govern in South Africa. The ANC was covered in shame, and remains covered in shame. It is our responsibility as ANC to cleanse ourselves, and to fulfil that promise at the Congress of the People, 63 years ago. We should make this the centre of ANC General Election Manifesto 2019.
To establish the partnership with the people - that is, with the voters of SA - we need to empower the voters to choose and elect members of parliament directly with 75% of MPs elected from their constituencies that are locally, in large multi-member constituencies. This way we will establish the bond of trust between the population as voters and the ANC members of parliament.
The voters must be in charge and in control of the politicians. When the politicians are controlled by the voters and depend on the voters for their jobs, they will behave differently, ethically and will no longer abuse power.
Let us do what the majority of the Electoral Task Team recommended in the Slabbert Commission in 2003, so that three-quarters of MPs and provincial councillors will be directly elected as known individuals by the voters, and only one quarter appointed by party list.
Let us have 300 candidates chosen by the people directly in constituencies throughout the country. The local voters must know their candidates and their likely members of parliament if they are to vote for ANC. This will establish a close, permanent, working relationship between the voters and trustworthy MPs, so that voters will be closer to the ANC, and MPs will be closer to the people. All MPs will be available for consultation with voters in their local constituency offices at regular times. If an MP is no good, the voters can remove that person at the next election.
If we had that system now, Makhosi Khoza through her bravery would still be ANC MP today. It is our shame that this is not the case.
In the provinces, 75% of provincial members of parliament should be elected directly by the people (that is, the voters) and 25% will be appointed by the party HQ as at present. This way we will establish the bond of trust between the population (voters) and the local ANC provincial members of the legislature. This way we will establish close relationship between the population and provincial members of parliament, and in turn create a close relationship between the ANC and the local population. We should also extend ward election of individual candidates to 75% of municipal councillors, instead of the current 50% of councillors.
The key factor of the Manifesto should be to build trust between the population and the ANC. To empower the people, they must have the ability to clean the ANC politicians and the politicians from other political parties. When the fate of provincial members of parliament and national members of parliament depends on the voters, then politicians will behave differently, and they will be responsive to the needs of the voters. This will extend to directors of parastatals and other key national institutions, who will be supervised by clean MPs accountable to voters.
We do not yet have a proper parliament, accountable to the people. We do not have representative government. The balance of power must shift to the people. This is the democratic way forward, through electoral reform. Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and other leaders of ANC had the courage to face the national crisis following the massacre at Sharpeville in 1960, by making a fundamental change in ANC practice after 48 years of peaceful resistance since foundation of ANC in 1912.
In our present national crisis of corruption and economic decline, ANC can only survive and serve the people if we make another fundamental change, by reform of the electoral laws in the Constitution. Let us find the courage to change, as our leaders did in 1960. ANC needs courage again, to empower the people through our General Election Manifesto 2019.
Let us make a reality of our promise: "The People Shall Govern!".
Issued by ANC