Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Parliament in race against time to amend law to allow independent candidates to serve as MPs

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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Cape Town –Parliament is racing against time to fix a law that would allow independent candidates to serve as MPs.

Legal advisers for Parliament warned on Thursday that the national legislature has less than a year left to amend the Electoral Act to allow independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections.

This follows the decision of the Constitutional Court last year that independent candidates can now campaign and be elected as members of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

The New Nation Movement had challenged the electoral laws in the Constitutional Court after they wanted to vie for seats in the national legislature and provinces.

In a meeting of the programme committee, Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she noted the concerns of other parties that Parliament would have to amend the electoral laws by June 2022 to meet the deadline of the Constitutional Court.

Parliament’s legal adviser, advocate Charmaine van der Merwe, said there was less than a year left to change the law.

“For this report I want to give feedback to members on the matter of the New Nation Movement. This affects the Electoral Act and it deals with the matter of the independent candidates.

“The Department of Home Affairs was scheduled to brief the portfolio committee on their progress on this matter. However, that meeting was postponed. Our office is preparing letters to send to the department to find out what is the progress on this bill as the deadline is June 10 next year and it is getting a bit close,” said Van der Merwe.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said they were concerned that the deadline was close.

He said they were worried that the issue of amendments to the Electoral Act was not progressing satisfactorily as the deadline was in June next year.

He said they needed to keep an eye on this because the order of the Constitutional Court lapses next year.

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Political Bureau

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