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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Opposition proposes threshold for parties to get elected into municipalities

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) has proposed a threshold for parties to be elected into municipalities.

This would limit the influence of smaller parties with one seat to be kingmakers.

The proposals are contained in the Municipal Structures Second Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament by the party’ where it proposes that there must be a threshold for parties to get elected into council.

The issue of the threshold first emerged during the National Dialogue on coalitions organised by Deputy President Paul Mashatile in Cape Town last August.

The proposal was that parties must get a threshold of 1% to get a seat in council or legislature.

But smaller parties accused the African National Congress (ANC) and the DA of trying to shut out smaller parties from getting a seat in municipalities or parliament.

However, in the Bill that has been tabled by DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube it stipulated the need to have a threshold to prevent smaller parties accessing power through the “back door”.

The Bill said what has been happening in municipalities was that there would be up to 10 parties that form a coalition. This would lead to a smaller party with one seat occupying an influential position in council.

“However, the current issue with coalition governments at local government level is that a high number of political parties are needed to join together in order to gain a majority in the council. What this means is that coalition governments are sometimes made up of up to 10 or more political parties, the majority of these parties having obtained only one seat each in the council,” states the Bill.

“Often, in practice, some of these parties gain a seat without even first obtaining the requisite votes needed for such seat (namely, the seat quota). Instead, such seat is obtained through the next highest remainder calculations. The effect of this is that opposition parties continuously lobby these smaller parties to retract from coalitions in exchange for positions or favour. These ‘one person’ parties who obtain a fraction of the votes of a municipality, now become ‘kingmakers’, which can destabalise entire governments which in turn affects service delivery to the very people who voted these parties in,” it states.

“The Local Government: Municipal Structures Second Amendment Bill of 2024 aims to prevent circumstances such as these from occurring by providing for an electoral threshold into the calculation and allocation of seats in councils.”

The Bill also adds that the issue of the threshold was not new in South Africa. It is practised in many democracies in the world.

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