Aaron Motsoaledi. Photo: Elizabeth Sejake
- Independent candidates elected to political office won’t be treated in any special manner.
- Submissions made on the Electoral Amendment Bill stipulate that once an independent candidate vacates office, the position will be contested by all political parties.
- There have been proposals that a vacancy of an independent candidate to be reassigned to only another independent.
There is no justification that a vacancy created by an independent candidate be reassigned only to another independent.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), all contestants are eligible to contest any available vacant seat.
This emerged during a meeting of the National Assembly’s home affairs committee where department officials and the IEC presented their responses to submissions received on the Electoral Amendment Bill.
In his presentation, IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo told MPs that the current electoral system features a closed list system, where parties are allowed to fill vacancies from these lists.
He was responding to proposals that a vacancy caused by an independent candidate be limited to other independents to fill.
“Vacancy created by an IC [independent candidate] can be filled by either a political party or an independent candidate, whereas a party vacancy is filled by the political party creating the vacancy. Independent candidates are limited to one seat and in order to retain parity, all contestants have a claim on a vacant seat based on support,” he said.
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Furthermore, Mamabolo said an independent who did not get a seat in the first calculation is also in contention for the vacancy that may arise.
“There is no justification to limiting the filling of the vacancy to independents. The independent candidate has vacated the seat, which implies that the votes cast originally for that candidate must be discarded. The retention of the votes for the independent who vacated the seat will result in the same outcome electing the same person,” he said.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the committee to be steadfast on the issue of independent candidates’ vacancies.
“The argument that a seat that was held by an independent should go to another independent and political parties must not contest assumes that that independent won the seats for other independents. We have never done so. The independents must contest with the political parties. The vacated seats of independents must be contested. It does not go to a group that belongs only to independent candidates,” he said.
The committee is expected to deliberate further on the matter next week.