12 September 2005
Hon. Mrs Mlambo-Ngcuka
Dear Deputy President
RE: FLOOR-CROSSING DEBATE
Our previous discussion on the above refers. As you will recall several opposition leaders raised this matter in a meeting with you several weeks ago. Whilst I appreciate the fact that the matter now features on the Parliamentary programme for debate, this was not the objective that we sought. What we had raised with you is that the floor-crossing legislation should be formally reviewed. We had thought that your calling this meeting with the leaders of the opposition was to seek our views on Government policy. We had assumed that when we raised this matter with you it would be taken directly to cabinet level and not be relegated to a mere once-off debate in Parliament with no influence on the legislation.
Tomorrow’s Parliamentary debate will be a mockery because floor-crossers, including those who have newly launched parties without even participating in an election, will be standing on the Parliamentary podium extolling the virtues of this law. The debate tomorrow will have little credibility when parties like the DA stand up and say the legislation should be scrapped whilst they originally supported it. The UDM will not participate in such a farcical exercise that abuses the parliamentary process to give a false sheen of credibility and “majority” support to a law that deeply offends the will of the electorate. This will be a staged exercise and not the open public debate that the UDM had requested.
We maintain that floor-crossing is undermining the very foundations of multi-party democracy and alienating many voters.
I call on you again to raise this matter within the Executive and cause the release of the Van Zyl Slabbert Commission on Electoral Reform Report for public debate. After such an open public debate, I have no doubt that Government will find that a significant number of voters oppose the idea of floor-crossing in a proportional representation electoral system. What will then remain is to scrap the legislation until a constituency-based electoral system is introduced wherein floor-crossers will have to face the electorate in by-elections when they defect.
At the very least Government should hold a referendum on floor-crossing, so that the voters themselves can democratically express their views about this law that directly affects their most basic of political rights. If newspapers and radio talkshows are anything to go by this law is increasing voter apathy and alienation; this law therefore needs to be reviewed urgently before the upcoming Local Government election.