The Revolution of Candidate Selection to Candidate Election and Why it Matters
On Tuesday something new started in South African politics, something that is going to change the political landscape in very real ways to ordinary people.
But before we go there, and perhaps to build some suspense, it started on 6 December 2019 when The People’s Dialogue was launched.
On that day, quite possibly the biggest public engagement process was started with 2.4 million South Africans.
It produced a vision for South Africa and, amongst its key values, was the idea of direct democracy.
Now, direct democracy for some exists in electoral reform arising from the Constitutional Court ruling requiring amendments to the Electoral Act.
I, being of sound mind, personally do not put my faith in the current crop of MPs electing to be subjected to greater accountability.
This is why ActionSA, and bringing this back into the current, has implemented a system to revolutionise politics in South Africa. This sounds like a big claim, even in the low bar set in our political system.
However, bear with me here because this claim has substance.
Every other political party operates off a model where you give them your votes and they give you the candidate that suits them to give you.
They don’t give you the candidate that will serve you best, they don’t give you the hardest worker or the most experienced.
They give you the candidate that satisfies their internal factional requirements, that pays back someone who supported a leadership campaign, someone who kept a secret.
This is how the people of Johannesburg got Geoff Makhubo.
This is how the people of Durban got Zandile Gumede.
This is how the people of the Free State got Ace Magashule.
Perhaps, many of our political problems can now be seen within the context of this problem.
ActionSA is going to do things differently, and open candidate selection processes to become candidate election processes.
We will invite the residents of all communities to participate in choosing the candidate that will represent ActionSA at the polls later this year.
Members of the public, without needing to be members of ActionSA, will be able to participate in internal elections to choose the very best candidates.
Any resident of Johannesburg, Tshwane or Ekurhuleni can go to www.actionsa.org.za/vote and register to participate in this process. Candidates will campaign in the wards to win the support of their residents and, ultimately, there will be an election.
This election will take place on 31 May to 6 June. It will be online for those who are comfortable with technology, and physical coting for those who require assistance.
Not only is ActionSA a new party, disrupting candidate selection, we are pioneering online voting in a country where the IEC’s ability to produce indelible ink pens and sufficient ballot papers had been an issue in 2019.
ActionSA’s system of electing candidates will be the platform for the best party-political performance management system in South Africa.
Rather than bothering with tick boxes and KPIs we are going to use the system to measure resident satisfaction with their elected councillor.
When the level of satisfaction is low, ActionSA will remove that councillor and use the very same system to identify a better alternative.
So, in review, let’s take stock of what ActionSA has put on the table by way of innovation in a broken political system:
1. The most open candidate election system that places the views of residents first.
2. A relationship of accountability where residents elect (appoint) councillors and therefore are the priority to their elected representatives.
3. ActionSA benefits from getting the very best candidates, because candidates chosen by the communities will be the best public servants.
4. The very same system will be used to performance manage our candidates once they are elected as Councillors.
If communities are dissatisfied with their ActionSA Councillor, they will be replaced and the very same system will elect our new candidate.
To demonstrate that this is not political puffery, consider the following:
The Constitution of ActionSA has a provision that makes it a disciplinary offense for a public representative to choose their party over the interests of their community. That is putting our money where our mouth is.
We stand before the people of South Africa to start something brave and bold, but something which can change the order of politics in our country.
This is because we believe in replacing words with Actions and offering hope where our current political system has instead brought about despair in our communities.
I invite you to join this initiative, an important first step in making politics work for South Africans by putting power into their hands and not in the hands of political parties.
Writes Herman Mashaba