Former Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says his soon-to-be-formed political party will hold primaries to allow its members to directly elect candidates for local, provincial and national elections.
Mashaba, who is the founder of The People’s Dialogue, made the announcement in a statement and video he issued on Monday via his Twitter account.
He said most submissions to the Dialogue revealed a sense of “deep frustration” with how political parties choose and “impose” their candidates on voters.
‘A first for South Africa’
Mashaba said this system “serves political parties and career politicians,” therefore necessitating a change in South Africa’s electoral system which would nevertheless take time.
He said his new party will therefore give its members the final say after they register with it soon after its formation.
He added, “When the time comes, candidates will apply to stand for political office in their respective communities and cities or be nominated by the community.
“We will host town hall debates so that the voters can assess the candidates and ultimately, these voters will take part in a primary election to decide who they want to see on the ballot. This is a first for South Africa.”
The ex-Mayor said his party will also give power to its members to assess the performance of their public representatives and replace them if need be.
“By adopting this system, we will have public representatives who are loyal and accountable to those who elected them and not the political party,” he said.
Mashaba’s decision is similar to calls for electoral reform made by his former colleague in the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane.
In a Daily Maverick article last week, Maimane reflected on the chaotic scenes in Parliament during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate and wondered, “On whose behalf are these representatives speaking: the party or the people?”
He wrote, “The current strict proportional representation system gives political parties too much power and maintains an ever-growing gap between the public and those in power.
“A mixed system, similar to our current local government elections, shifts power from public representatives to the public. This is so that when an MP speaks in Parliament, the people of their community are represented.”
Both Maimane and Mashaba quit the DA last year. While Mashaba is intent on forming a new political party, Maimane is more focused on growing his “Movement for Change” across all political parties.