Cape Town - Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs will work throughout the recess period to complete its work on the Electoral Amendment Bill aimed at allowing independent candidates to contest future national and provincial elections.
Parliament is working to meet a December 10 deadline given by the Constitutional Court to pass the bill into law.
The Constitutional Court granted an extension on June 10 after a request in April from the National Assembly, which had said in court papers that it needed more time, at least six months, to undertake an “extensive and meaningful” public participation process.
The matter goes back to June 11, 2020 when after an application by civil society organisation the New Nation Movement, the Constitutional Court ruled that Section 19 of the Electoral Act was unconstitutional for not allowing independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections.
The court suspended its order of the act’s invalidity for 24 months until June 10, which then required Parliament to make the amendments “to remedy the defect giving rise to the unconstitutionality” in this period.
Parliament then requested the extension arguing that as it received the bill only in January this year, it did not have enough time to “process a bill of such public significance and interest”.
Speaking after the extension was granted, the One South Africa Movement’s Mmusi Maimane said: “This bill still favours political parties over independent representatives.”
On Tueday, committee chairperson Mose Chabane (ANC) said: “The committee would continue to deliberate on the bill with the intention of arriving at a final product that is reflective of the spirit of the Constitutional Court judgment.”
During the briefing there were presentations from Parliamentary Legal Services, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC), the state law adviser and the Department of Home Affairs.
Committee members Adrian Roos (DA) and Liezl van der Merwe (IFP) said the committee was making headway in reaching a consensus on legislation.
However, committee member Tidimalo Legwase (ANC) suggested the committee and the IEC should set aside a day to workshop the bill in terms of the more technical issues, including the calculation of seats, definition of terms, and requirements for candidates to stand for election.