'Let South Africans elect their own president'
DA leader Mmusi Maimane lays out party plans ahead of their own elective congress this weekend
The Democratic Alliance wants to change the way elections are conducted to allow South Africans to directly elect their president.
This is one of the party’s policy resolutions which are to be debated at this weekend’s elective congress to be held in Tshwane over two days.
Currently, voters are only allowed to elect political parties, which then send their nominees to be elected for the position.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane told journalists ahead of the congress the party also wanted premiers and mayors to be directly elected by voters.
“The DA’s resolutions on corruption will be an opportunity for the party to discuss giving citizens an opportunity to get rid of corrupt political leaders by allowing the electorate to elect the president, premiers and mayors directly,” said Maimane.
The party’s resolution is one of its measures to fight corruption. It also called for lifestyle audits for politicians and public servants.Political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti said the system of directly electing public representatives was practised in African countries like Kenya but had its problems.
“The reason why our constitutional drafters opted for the current electoral system is they wanted to make sure that even smaller parties gain access to parliament,” said Maseti.
He said as an unintended consequence, the system sidelined minorities.
“It’s a constituency-based system ... If you take the DA, for an example, it would be largely represented by white MPs because they are strong in wealthy suburbs,” he said.
But another political analyst, Mcebisi Ndletyana, said the system would work in terms of ensuring accountability.
“There must be a way of empowering voters to enforce accountability and, equally so, to apply sanction on executive leaders in instances where they go wayward,” he said.He said it would also force a president to reach compromises that are in the interest of the public.
“The advantage of this as well is that it forces the leader to prioritise public interest over party interest and at the same time forces the party to be a lot more sensitive to public interest,” he said.
He said if the country were to go that route, it might as well abandon the current PR system which gives power to parties to determine who becomes MPs.The DA resolution comes amid internal tensions over its formula for sending delegates to its conferences.
It rewards constituencies that obtain a larger number of voters by giving them delegates to attend the conference, a practice which has left out DA branches in largely black townships like Soweto.
At the conference, the party is due to discuss a number of policy proposals including a hike in child grants, economic growth led by cities and an introduction of a diversity clause to the party’s constitution.
The hottest leadership contest will be for the party’s national chairperson, which is between Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga and incumbent Athol Trollip.
Maimane and federal executive chair James Selfe are uncontested in their positions.