National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Speaker Thandi Modise has warned against delays by the Cabinet in sending bills to Parliament, leading to the Constitutional Court refusing to extend deadlines to the national legislature to amend legislation after missing several court deadlines.

Parliament has been found wanting after missing several deadlines of the Constitutional Court to amend the legislation to comply with the constitution.

This came after the national legislature had been taken to court several times over the unconstitutionality of some of the bills.

During the meeting of the programming committee this week, Modise and her deputy, Lechesa Tsenoli, said they would communicate with Deputy President David Mabuza, who is the leader of government business, to address the problem.

Other parties, including the DA, EFF, the IFP and ACDP, also expressed concern about Parliament missing the deadlines of the Constitutional Court.

The national legislature was last September supposed to have finalised the Restitution of Land Rights Bill, but it missed the deadline.

When Parliament applied for an extension the Constitutional Court refused to grant it. This is one of a slew of bills that failed to meet the court deadlines because of delays in finalising them.

Modise said a lot of time was lost when, after a bill has been referred back to Parliament by the court, it was sent to the department.

She said a bill should come straight to Parliament instead of the department.

She added that to stop a bill from being struck down by the court they should avoid passing badly crafted legislation.

Tsenoli said Parliament would need to meet regularly to identify deadlines of the Constitutional Court.

“We need to identify on a regular basis the timelines for the Constitutional Court deadlines. It must be because of extraordinary circumstances that we don’t meet the Constitutional Court deadlines,” said Tsenoli.

He said he agreed that they needed to engage Mabuza on this matter.

“On this point we will communicate it to the leader of government business so that they will act on it. From this meeting this matter should be communicated to the executive,” said Tsenoli.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, also agreed that a lot of time was wasted between a bill being referred to the department then back to Parliament.

“There has to be a session, before we commence the year, to do a cradle-to grave-process of the legislation,” said Steenhuisen.

Ntombovuyo Mente of the EFF said if Modise felt she needed to beef-up the legal structures of Parliament she had a right to do so.

This would help to correct legislation before it is passed, she said.

Steve Swart of the ACDP said they needed to up their game to avoid flak from the Constitutional Court.

Political Bureau