2024 elections 'not under threat', says Mapisa-Nqakula
'Just small, minor issues which need to be sorted out'
National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says there is no threat to the general elections in 2024 and they will go ahead as envisaged in the constitution.
Parliament is set to miss the June 10 Constitutional Court-imposed deadline to amend the Electoral Act to allow independent candidates to contest provincial and national elections.
The judgment was handed down on June 10 2020, giving parliament 24 months to correct the defect.
But the bill was only tabled in January, leaving the legislature with a few months to make the necessary amendments.
Parliament approached the court in April requesting an extension of the deadline to finalise work on the bill. This has raised fears in some quarters that the delay in finalising the bill may affect preparations for the elections and could force them to be held outside the constitutionally stipulated five-year interval.
“It’s unfortunate that there is a narrative out there which is that this is likely to delay or threaten the elections in SA. It doesn’t threaten the elections in any way,” said Mapisa-Nqakula on Thursday.
“Everything is being done to make sure the process is finalised by the end of the year.”
She called on MPs and other politicians not to mislead their constituencies by saying the elections are threatened. “We are not in any way threatened, a lot of things have been done. It’s just small, minor issues which need to be sorted out.”
Parliament had requested an extension of six months and according to its legal team the legislature is aiming to finalise “the whole thing” by November 6 before sending it to President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign.
“All that has been requested is that the Constitutional Court should give us an extension of six months because we believe by that time the entire process shall have been completed,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.
MPs heard that the home affairs portfolio committee, which was processing the bill, was planning to continue meeting during the winter recess and hoped to finalise the bill by June 28.
MPs in the National Assembly programming committee heard on Thursday morning parliament was still waiting for the outcome of its request for an extension.
The New Nation Movement, the NGO that initially challenged the constitutionality of the act, is opposing parliament’s request for an extension.
While the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) supports the request for an extension, parliament's legal adviser advocate Charmaine van der Merwe said the commission had indicated it could only support the extension if the bill’s current draft proceeds.
“The bone of contention is the possibility of constituencies. The IEC has indicated to the court if constituencies are included, they will need more time to prepare for elections,” she said.
Based on submissions, they were waiting for directions from the court on a date for arguments or whether the court will consider the documents and make a decision.
City Press reported on Sunday that the 2024 elections were “under threat” and quoted the New Nation Movement, among others, as having said parliament was “way behind” schedule.
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