Isandla Institute will be hosting a Roundtable dialogue on 06 September 2011 to discuss the "Prospects of a Single Election in South Africa: Is it really in the interest of inclusive, participatory local governance?"
In the background of the third municipal elections in South Africa, members of the government and party leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) have been abounding in the discussion about the introduction of a single election in South Africa. Sicelo Shiceka, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) is widely quoted in the media claiming that a single election would curb election fatigue, cut spending as it currently costs about R3bn and that it would guarantee that the state spends more time focussing on service delivery rather than being distracted into planning for an election every two-and-a-half years. The Minister went further and proposed that 2014 would be the commencement of such elections; the date informed by the ruling party's need to discuss and endorse this proposal in its Policy and National Conferences to be held in 2012.
In June 2011, in the wake of the first municipal elections in which the ANC battled to maintain its electoral strength, President Jacob Zuma abounded in the same direction. At the party level, Gwede Mantashe, Secretary General of the ANC, also announced in 2010 that the party was considering the possibility of a single election date. The reactions to the ruling party suggestions have been unequivocal from the opposition while the general public seems disinterested despite the implications such a proposal carries.
While it is uncertain that the prospects of a single election would become reality, it is however a matter of national interest to explore the issue as mooted by the executive and the ruling party. It is also opportune to examine the timing and the arguments brandished in support of the prospect of a single election. The Roundtable will debate (amongst other issues) if a single election for South Africa would result in an improved efficiency and service delivery at local government level and whether such an election would be in the interest of advancing inclusive and participatory governance.