Vote for the people’s right to decide what comes next, via an early election: this is what the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) believes Parliament must now do in light of the mounting crisis over Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency.

‘The much-needed early 2023 national election is both lawful and in the best interests of all parties seeking a democratic mandate in the wake of upheaval,’ the Institute said in a statement.

‘Opposition parties should embrace the opportunity to expose themselves to the electorate’s reckoning. Likewise, ANC MPs who wish to govern under a new leader, or under the newly exposed Ramaphosa, will find a new mandate indispensable too.’

The IRR noted that, over a month ago IRR Project Manager Terence Corrigan proposed that an early election, in terms of Section 50 of the Constitution, ‘should be triggered to halt national “regression”’.

‘This call has now been tabled by the leader of the official opposition, John Steenhuisen, which is a significant step towards South African citizens weighing in on the national crisis.’

The IRR said: ‘South Africans have had the worst average negative response to the question “Do you think your country is going in the right direction, or the wrong direction?” of any country surveyed since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s election, according to data from international pollster Ipsos.

‘The Parliamentary Independent Panel Report into allegations of illegal activity and serious misconduct by President Ramaphosa has further eroded confidence in his “new dawn”. Without confidence, government lacks legitimacy. Without legitimacy there will be no stability or growth.’

Section 50(1)(a) of the Constitution ‘articulates the National Assembly’s power to adopt a resolution to dissolve itself, triggering a national election, precisely to restore legitimacy in the wake of this kind of leadership catastrophe’.

‘Fresh elections can be triggered by a simple majority of the National Assembly, but may only take place once three years have elapsed since the last election, which has already happened. All Parliament has to do is vote for the people’s right to decide what comes next.’

The IRR argued that the alternative to a ‘much-needed early 2023 national election’ was ‘to lock ordinary people out of the leadership contest rendering it nothing more than palace intrigue.’

‘South Africa suffers the highest recorded unemployment rate worldwide, declining investment, a weakening currency, load-shedding, increasing child hunger, and per capita productivity shrinkage since 2010. Ordinary citizens are suffering and must have the chance to answer the leadership question raised by the finding of Ramaphosa’s prima facie criminality by a Parliamentary Panel, the Western Cape High Court’s finding that he obstructed justice, and the nationwide evidence of a flailing state.

‘Who occupies the Union Buildings matters primarily because of what comes out of the Union Buildings that impacts South Africans, starting with the law of the land, including laws that kill jobs.

‘For example, the IRR’s legal team petitioned the President to veto the Employment Equity Amendment Bill (EEB), which aims to grant Minister Thulas Nxesi the power to impose Dis-Chem-style racial moratoria over 85% of the private workforce. The IRR recorded over half a dozen unconstitutional defects in that Bill. The Presidency responded that the Institute’s “objection to the Bill is noted and will be considered before the President takes a final decision on the Bill”.

‘Section 79 of the Constitution effectively says the President “must” block the EEB, whoever the President is. But there is now a direct risk that the President might violate his or her duty by signing Minister Nxesi’s “more aggressive” race law into force to try to score ideological points amidst an ANC internal struggle, regardless of how this kills jobs.’

Said Gabriel Crouse, Head of Campaigns: ‘At the petrol station, at the garage coffee stand, in the taxi this morning, I kept hearing the same thing: ‘I don’t know what is going to happen, I’m afraid, it’s going from bad to worse’. South Africans should be in control of what comes next. Give us back our vote.’