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Parties back recommendation for a change to constituency-based electoral system

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo hands over the Zondo Commission report to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo hands over the Zondo Commission report to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 23, 2022

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Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has made wide-ranging recommendations to be considered by Parliament if it was to up its game on its oversight role to hold the executive accountable.

This after his final report into the state capture and corruption made damning findings against the national legislature on its failure to hold the executive accountable.

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The commission’s chairperson said Parliament should consider whether it would be desirable to establish a committee whose function is oversight over acts or omissions by the presidency and/or the presidency.

Currently, there is no existing portfolio committee dedicated to the presidency other than some committees dealing with departments falling within the presidency.

Some parties, such as the DA, have previously called for the formation of a similar portfolio committee over the years, to no avail.

Zondo also said Parliament should consider introducing a constituency-based electoral system to enhance the capacity of MPs to hold the executive accountable.

“If Parliament considers that introducing a constituency-based system has this advantage, it is recommended that it should consider whether, when weighed against any possible disadvantage of, this advantage justifies amending the existing electoral system,” he said.

The chief justice noted with concern that allegations of state capture or improper influence by the Guptas had been in public domain about a decade ago.

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“It is difficult to accept that MPs did not yet have sufficient cause to probe the veracity of the allegations of improper Gupta influence by 2013 at the latest,” he said.

Zondo said widely published allegations came in 2016 but the ANC was unwilling to support a request by the opposition for a portfolio committee or ad hoc committee to inquire about the allegations.

“The fact that the allegations had been referred to the SAPS or Chapter Nine institution does not excuse Parliament’s inaction. In issue were serious and plausible allegations which, if found substantial, revealed a threat to our constitutional democracy.

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He said leaving investigations exclusively to other agencies to investigate was not consistent with parliamentary constitutional obligations.

DA deputy chief, whip Siviwe Gwarube, said what was clear from the state capture commission report was that it found Parliament was lacking in playing its oversight role.

Gwarube said the ANC was accused number one and the rest of cabinet accused number two, Parliament was very much accused number three.

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“While the report details and provides what needs to change, the real test is how we move on to implement these recommendations,” she said.

Gwarube noted that Zondo made recommendations on electoral reform and strengthening accountability by the House.

“Those are some of the things we need to use the rules to make sure, in fact, we do use mechanisms that are available to us for oversight,” she said.

One South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane welcomed Zondo’s recommendation on constituency–based electoral system.

“If we want to end state capture, we need to give power back to the people. The constituency-based model allows for citizens to directly elect their MPs. It means the mandate they carry is not derived from a party, it is derived from the people,’ Maimane said.

He said when MPs were meant to hold those responsible to account, they voted per party line as opposed to the interest of the people.

“It is such a crucial step, if over and above criminal prosecution and who should be charged. Administrative duty is to reform the electoral system to give power back to the people,” Maimane added.

Cape Times

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