ACDP withholds support for Electoral Laws Amendment Bill

ACDP withholds support for Electoral Laws Amendment Bill

Honourable Speaker,
In considering this Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, the ACDP is acutely aware of the dichotomy which exists and the need to balance the polarized positions.

On the one end of the scale is the right of access to information and on the other, the right to privacy. Clearly, there is a legitimate concern that providing unfettered access to the voters’ roll could open the door to identity theft and the abuse of personal information. On the other hand restricting access to the voters roll could call into question whether the elections were indeed free and fair, open and transparent, as these concepts are non-negotiables in the pursuit of democratic elections.

The ACDP understands the urgency to have this Amendment Bill passed, with the Local Government Elections expected to take place later this year. However, urgency must not become expediency, which undermines our democracy, causing the legitimacy of the outcomes of an election to be questioned. The principle of redaction and the restriction of access to information on the voters roll to stakeholders such as the media and civil society organisations could place impediments before these stakeholders, thus limiting their role as watchdogs, and potentially, or very likely, making an election outcome, unlawful or unconstitutional.

The ACDP notes that according to the Lawyers For Human Rights there some 15 million stateless people in South Africa, with 3 million under the age of 18. The vast majority of these go undocumented, have no access to essential services, become vulnerable and subject to abuse. As we begin preparation for Local Government Elections, statelessness, undocumented individuals, and lack of queue management at the Department of Home Affairs, are some challenges highlighted in the portfolio committee, that need resolution, so as not to preclude legitimate citizens for the democratic electoral process, while simultaneously ensuring that illegitimate individuals are not included.

While the ACDP understands the need to protect personal information, the redaction of digits of identity numbers on the voters roll may lead to electoral fraud and make the outcomes of elections questionable. This is undesirable and should not happen in a constitutional democracy.
The ACDP does not support the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill.

New plans and actions are needed to empower our citizens and to renew their dignity

New plans and actions are needed to empower our citizens and to renew their dignity

Subject for discussion: Why South Africa can no longer afford to delay implementing a permanent Basic Income Grant to address the basic needs and dignity of its most marginalised citizens? By Marie Sukers MP

Honourable Chairperson, There are two scriptural contexts which the ACDP wishes to highlight in this debate today: Jesus said, “the poor you will always have among you”, and secondly Paul the Apostle says: “the ox that works the field must not be muzzled. “These two texts highlight the crucial combination for social stability: social welfare to provide for the poor and a fair wage for the man or woman who works hard.

Our people want to work. They do not want to be life-long grant recipients. They want to have their dignity renewed and take up their place in society as builders of our nation. We need new plans and actions that will empower our citizens, and I emphasize our citizens, from every group and sector of society, our citizens, not the state, to create the jobs we need. This will grow our tax base, pull us back from the fiscal cliff and ensure we have the resources to take better care of the poor.

Marie Sukers MP

However, Chairperson, the state is a poor steward of what the people already pay in taxes. The state is unable to fulfill its Constitutional duty set out in, s(27)c, to provide “access to social security, including, if they (people) are unable to support themselves and their dependents, appropriate social assistance.”This impotence of the State is demonstrated by the thousands of South Africans sleeping in front of our social service offices, and the thousands who have to wait before grants are adequately processed and released into their bank accounts.

Why then has our state failed?

  1. Before all else, the state fails to appreciate that taxes are not just a number on a pay-slip. They are a social compact. Our people give you, the government of the day, a pair of shoes for a child, something to give a friend or family member in need, school fees for a better school, that is what that number means to them. They give that to you so that you will help their fellow South Africans and be there for them when they may need you. You have broken faith with us.
  2. Our state is corrupt, and when our civil servants or politicians sell our state they are selling not just a number but that child’s pair of shoes – and worse than that, that child’s dreams.
  3. But there is a less obvious form of corruption, and that is the ineffective structure of our civil service. Our civil service needs urgent reform, and it needs it now!

The Civil Service is not fit for purpose. It needs a complete organizational re-design. We cannot expect a corrupt state to do this, so we need an open and transparent process that all of our people can scrutinize. With an effective Civil Service, we will find the money we need to provide the social security net that is needed in this current crisis, to pay back what we have borrowed, and to create the conditions for inclusive economic growth. Now is the time for the Good Stewards and Servant leaders both in politics and the State to come to the fore.

With an effective Civil Service, we will find the money we need to provide the social security net that is needed in this current crisis, to pay back what we have borrowed, and to create the conditions for inclusive economic growth. Now is the time for the Good Stewards and Servant leaders both in politics and the State to come to the fore.”