Cape Town – Parliament has filed an urgent application to the Constitutional Court requesting another extension for the finalisation of the electoral bill aimed to allow independent candidates to stand for election in the national and provincial elections.
Parliament had been granted an earlier extension until December 10 to pass the new legislation.
However, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) came up with material amendments that required public consultation when the bill was brought to it for concurrence.
“The practical consequence of these important amendments proposed is that the Bill has had to be referred back to the National Assembly for consideration.
“As a consequence, it will not be possible to pass the Bill by 10 December 2022 and it is, therefore, necessary to seek a further extension of the suspension period to 28 February 2023,” parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said on Tuesday.
The move came after the home affairs portfolio committee decided on Friday to ask the National Assembly to request for the extension to finalise the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The substantive amendment included the establishment of an electoral reform consultation panel that must look into the country’s electoral system after the 2024 elections.
The bill is a sequel to a Constitutional Court judgement delivered in June 2020, which found the Electoral Act unconstitutional because it required candidates to stand for elections to be members of political parties.
Parliament was given 24 months to fix the defects in the law, but Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi only introduced it in Parliament in January 2022.
Mothapo said Parliament could not pass the bill by the initial June 2022 deadline due to the huge interest and the public participation process embarked upon.
“Parliament thus approached the Constitutional Court for an extension of the deadline and was granted such extension until 10 December 2022 to pass the Bill.”
He also said the National Assembly passed the bill in October before sending it to the NCOP for concurrence.
After considering certain concerns raised by various parties and stakeholders the NCOP in late November proposed various amendments to strengthen the Bill.
The bill could not be passed by the December 10 deadline hence the request for a further extension of the suspension period to the end of February 2023.
“This short extension is designed to permit adequate public participation in respect of the proposed amendments while ensuring that the Electoral Commission has sufficient time to prepare for the 2024 elections,” Mothapo said.