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Casac warns parliament over Electoral Amendment Bill

11 March 2022 - 14:53
Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, expressed concern about a lack of public participation regarding proposed amendments to the Electoral Act.
Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, expressed concern about a lack of public participation regarding proposed amendments to the Electoral Act.
Image: Supplied

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution (Casac) has warned parliament it may be bungling the process to amend the Electoral Act as directed by the Constitutional Court.

In a letter to home affairs portfolio committee chairperson Mosa Chabane, Casac hints at a possible Constitutional Court challenge.

The committee is holding nationwide public hearings after  interested parties made submissions.

The bill is meant to amend the Electoral Act to, among other things, allow independent candidates to contest National Assembly and provincial legislatures seats.

The New Nation Movement approached the court arguing that the act was unconstitutional, after which the court gave parliament until June this year to fix it.

Casac's letter is supported by the New Nation Movement, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) and the 70s Group.

In the letter, Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said they were concerned about public involvement in the process.

“The portfolio committee has sought to limit engagement on the amendments to the proposed bill.

“The legislative amendments proposed in the bill emanate from minority views of members of the advisory committee established by minister [Aaron] Motsoaledi in 2021. This minority view was not raised by any of the stakeholders with which the advisory committee engaged.”

The portfolio committee has not tabled the majority view of the advisory committee for consideration in its public consultations, nor has it tabled other proposals received by the committee.

Casac, together with the New Nation Movement and the SACC, were among those who made oral submissions to the committee last week.

“In view of the hurried nature of the ‘nationwide public hearings’ we do not believe the public has been adequately notified of these hearings and nor have they been given sufficient time and information to make submissions.

“We believe the portfolio committee is failing in its duty to ensure meaningful public participation in the legislative process of the National Assembly. Legislation passed as a result of such a flawed process will be ripe for a constitutional challenge,” said Naidoo.

The committee should review its public hearings process to ensure compliance with its constitutional responsibilities.

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