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Johannesburg - The DA was jumping the gun by going to court about a draft bill which could prevent people living overseas from registering for provincial elections, the ANC said on Wednesday.
“The DA's baffling decision to approach the court on a draft bill that Parliament is still considering is premature, ill-advised and defies common sense,” said African National Congress Chief Whip Stone Sizani.
He said the Electoral Amendment Bill was still being discussed in the parliamentary committee, and was scheduled for public hearings soon.
The Democratic Alliance reported that it and nine other applicants filed papers on the matter in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
DA executive chairman James Selfe said they wanted South Africans living overseas to be eligible to register for both national and provincial elections.
They believed the bill might be unconstitutional, because it excluded the right to a provincial vote.
“As it stands, the Independent Electoral Commission's bill will only allow for overseas voters to vote for the national list and not the regional list,” Selfe said.
“By doing this, the bill would also effectively rule out having a constituency-based system. It will also not provide for overseas voters to vote for the provincial legislature.”
The DA wanted people to be able to register abroad, and to have voting stations made available in locations where a substantial number of South Africans lived, but where there were no embassies or consulates.
Sizani said the DA tended to use the courts to fight its political battles in Parliament.
“It is unfortunate that, despite its repeated losses in courts, the opposition has still not learned a valuable lesson that, in terms of the doctrine of separation of powers, the judiciary cannot be drawn into or made to interfere in the internal processes of an independent arm of the state.
“Recently, the DA spent millions on legal fees and was also ordered to cover legal fees for Parliament after losing in two courts on a case that sought to draw the judiciary into the internal affairs of Parliament,” Sizani said.
He was referring to DA's application in the Constitutional Court to compel Parliament to debate a vote of confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
The Constitutional Court dismissed the application.
“The decision to approach the courts on what is essentially a work in progress within Parliament is tantamount to asking the court to write this Bill for Parliament,” said Sizani.
“Inasmuch as Parliament may not write judgments for the judiciary, the judiciary too, should not be called in to write bills for the legislature,” he said. - Sapa