Politics took an interesting and classy turn this past Thursday at the “Roundtable Discussion on the Possibilities and Limits of Electoral Reform”, organised by activist organisation My Vote Counts. The event which took place at the Inner City Ideas Cartel Auditorium in Cape Town, saw politics being turned into a rather intriguing subject.
Upon arrival, guests were treated to champagne. The panelists at the discussion which aimed to discuss what we as a democratic nation should be expecting in our governance system after our elections included visiting professor at UCT Jorgeen Elklit and civil society collaborator Ebrahim Fakir.
Karabo Rajuili, a researcher for My Vote Counts, started off the discussion by giving the audience an overview of the topics to be discussed. Rajuili mentioned that one of the many problems we faced as a nation was the lack of outside South African citizens to participate in the democratic process, a fact that many of us politically unaware individuals did not know. Citizens who live abroad are denied their constitutional right to vote. This has raised much concern about the Electoral Act of the South African Government. With the voting process now over, one may wonder if this system will still be in effect, or if electoral reform will have an altering influence in this regard.
Professor Elklit was the first panelist to speak, taking the audience on a journey to the fascinating world of the seat allocation system. In his statement, Professor Elklit mentioned that many of the small parties that go into Parliament do not benefit when it comes to getting seats, as the current electoral system favours political parties that are well established.
Ebrahim stated that one of the solutions to the problems that constituencies have identified within the current governance system would be to change the system of governance that is in effect. “What we might need is a mix system such as the one at local government level,” said Fakir. “This is perhaps a constitutional amendment which increases the size of Parliament. Such to accommodate a larger number of constituencies,” he continued.
The discussion was concluded with a Q&A session with the audience, who had many comments and questions for the two panelists. The amount of liveliness and participation in the auditorium was not what you would have expected to witness at a political event. Such events are usually boring and long. This one however, was different in how the message was communicated; it was so interesting that even I became a political analyst myself in that hour.
The evening ended off in true “politician” style, with guests being treated to amazing food and the best wine. The refreshments were followed by interesting conversations with the panelists and other members of the audience having their own discussions under the beautifully star-filled Cape Town sky. An amazing way to end a great evening.
All Photos: Onele Liwani
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