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The tabling of defection legislation today in Parliament constitutes a grossly irresponsible act that undermines the right of voters to choose their public representatives. The ANC is proposing that Parliament must erode and reinterpret the very principle upon which the new South Africa has been founded. The years of suffering and negotiation that led to the current dispensation, and specifically the way in which voters elect their public representatives, are suddenly of no value. The UDM will not blindly rush after the ANC when the possibility exists that Parliament is on the verge of committing the same type of error the Weimar Republic did, using democratic processes to terminate democracy. This is in our opinion political thuggery and it would be morally wrong for us to support it.

The UDM opposes this legislation on two grounds, firstly that it does not reflect the will of voters as expressed in the elections, and secondly that it is imposed upon a system that has not yet been altered to accommodate proportional representation. We believe that it is dangerous and unconstitutional to graft constituency-type electoral system measures unto a proportional representation-type electoral system. The public must be involved and the electoral system must first be adapted to a constituency-based type in the period between now and 2004. 

It is appears as if expediency is driving the ruling party to make hasty and irresponsible decisions. The UDM has advocated since its inception for a realignment of the political landscape. We can see that the current proposals have nothing to do with realignment and everything to do with the hunger for power and positions.

The UDM remains committed to realignment, and we propose that all politicians of principle must meet around the negotiation table to discuss mechanisms to properly and responsibly realign the political landscape. Such a process must take the voters of the country along, and not leave them behind as is currently happening.

If the NNP is serious about political realignment it must simply disband and let its members and supporters choose where they wish to go, instead of tampering with the democratic dispensation. The problems of the DA set the stage for this situation; it is in our opinion a local government matter because that is where the DA has been elected. Therefore national and provincial public representatives need not be affected. If the ANC and NNP want to insist on it being necessary to make changes at national and provincial level it would only be appropriate to call for elections and get a mandate from the voters.

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

12 November 2001

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