Parliament wants Justice Department to present programme to fix defective laws

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Parliament wants the Justice Department to make a presentation on their programme to fix laws that were found defective by the Constitutional Court.

This comes after the justice and correctional services portfolio committee was briefed yesterday by the parliamentary legal services unit about the four laws that were found to be unconstitutional.

Parliament has at times not met the 24 months deadline set by the Constitutional Court, a move prompting the institution or the department to file papers asking for extension.

During yesterday’s briefing, MPs heard that the national legislature was given until November 26 2022 to fix the Riotous Assemblies Act which was challenged by the EFF and Julius Malema.

It also has until December 3 2022 to fix the Correctional Services Act to give independence of the Judicial Inspectorate, December 17 2022 for the Extradition Act and February 3 2024 for Regulation of Interception of Communication and Provision of Communication-related information.

The parliamentary legal services unit said the department had indicated that a discussion document had been prepared and was being subjected to an informal consultation process with SAPS and the Civilian Secretariat for Police as part of drafting an amendment bill to the Riotous Assemblies Act.

A new Extradition Bill has been approved internally to embark upon a constitutional process and a bill revising the RICA Act was being revised.

ANC MP Xola Nqola said they did not have much time, considering that 2022 should be the end of the entire law-making process and they were not making strides to correct the defects.

“We must get a proper programme from the department. I propose that when Parliament reconvenes in August, we must have the work already starting with regard to these matters,” Nqola said.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said the briefing by the legal services unit would enable them to do the oversight work over the department.

“When we come back, we are going to invite the department, so that we can have a clear programme.”

Magwanishe said it was their pledge at the start of the sixth parliament when they took oath that “under our watch we don’t want to have a situation where we don’t meet constitutional deadlines”.

“You are assisting us to be well ahead of deadlines.”

He said the move would ensure that the bills were processed on time to allow the National Council of Provinces to meet its deadline and then President Cyril Ramaphosa to apply his mind to the bills passed by National Assembly and NCOP before he assented to those bills.

“He does not just assent. If he has reservations that a bill encroached on the Constitution, he has the power to refer that bill back to Parliament,” Magwanishe said.

His comments came against the backdrop of the National Assembly to consider Ramaphosa’s reservations on the constitutionality of some bills.

On Tuesday, the National Assembly will consider his reservations on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill.

On Wednesday, MPs will consider his reservations on the constitutionality of the Liquor Products Amendment Bill.

Political Bureau

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