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Parliament asks Concourt for an extension to finalise Electoral Act amendment

Will not meet deadline as there is a need to continue with the consultation process because of huge public interest

27 April 2022 - 13:49
In June 2020 the Constitutional Court ruled the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it didn’t allow independent candidates to contest national assembly and provincial legislature seats. File photo.
In June 2020 the Constitutional Court ruled the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it didn’t allow independent candidates to contest national assembly and provincial legislature seats. File photo.
Image: Kevin Sutherland/EPA

Parliament has filed papers at the Constitutional Court requesting an extension of the deadline for the finalisation of the amendment of the Electoral Act.

In June 2020 the Constitutional Court ruled the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it didn’t allow independent candidates to contest national assembly and provincial legislature seats.

The application challenging the constitutionality of the act was brought by the NGO the New Nation Movement.

In its ruling, the court suspended its order of the act’s invalidity for 24 months.

The 24 months expire on  June 10 for parliament to make the necessary amendments to the act “to remedy the defect giving rise to the unconstitutionality”,

Parliament has, however, issued a statement, saying it filed papers at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday requesting a six-month extension of the deadline for the finalisation of the amendment of the act.

“Given the significance of the bill and the required public participation process, it has since become apparent parliament will not be in a position to pass an amendment to the Electoral Act before the June deadline,” said parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo. 

According to Mothapo, the bill was introduced to the national assembly on January 10 and left parliament with five months to process the bill, which has a lot of public significance and interest. 

“Accordingly, the presiding officers of parliament approached the apex court to seek an extension to enable parliament to properly deliberate on the bill and ensure citizens across the country are afforded an opportunity to meaningfully participate and share their views on the Electoral Amendment Bill,” Mothapo said. 

He said the bill is amending the electoral system and therefore its enactment involves complex policy issues which impact all adult citizens., adding that other laws may need to be amended.

Mothapo said parliament has undertaken actions to facilitate the process since the court’s judgment.

“These include meetings between the committees, minister and Electoral Commission immediately after the court handed down the judgment to map out the road ahead.”

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