ConCourt hears case on bills

2012-08-07 16:32
The Constitutional Court (File, Sapa)

The Constitutional Court (File, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Sections of the Constitution were scrutinised on Tuesday in argument on whether a Member of Parliament could introduce a bill in the National Assembly (NA) without permission.

Constitutional Court judges asked that the meaning of the words "initiate, prepare" and "introduce", as set out in the Constitution, be understood before argument on the matter could be heard.

This was still being deliberated on, more than an hour after court proceedings began.

David Unterhalter SC, for Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, contended that initiation and preparation were steps before the introduction of a bill.

"To introduce" was understood as tabling a bill before the NA.

Oriani-Ambrosini has brought an application for leave to appeal a judgment by the Western Cape High Court on the validity of certain NA rules.

Majority advantage

He argues that some rules permit the majority party in the NA to prevent members of minority parties from exercising their constitutional right to introduce bills in the NA.

He contends this violates his political and democratic rights under section 73(2) of the Constitution, and asks the Constitutional Court to declare the rules in question constitutionally invalid.

The section states that any bill may be introduced in the NA, but only by a Cabinet member, a deputy minister, or a member or committee of the NA.

Oriani-Ambrosini wrote to the Speaker of the Assembly, Max Sisulu, asking that a bill, which sought to amend the National Credit Act, be introduced.

In response, Sisulu informed Oriani-Ambrosini the bill would have to be processed in terms of the NA's rules.

Those rules required that a private member's bill first be submitted to the committee on private members' legislative proposals and special petitions.

The committee would then make a recommendation to the assembly on whether permission could be granted to proceed with the proposed legislation. Before the legislative proposal could proceed it had to, in terms of the rules, receive approval from a majority of NA members.


In the heads of argument, Sisulu said a member of the NA had to obtain permission before he could lawfully introduce his bill.

"Mr [Oriani-]Ambrosini claims... parts of the NA rules are inconsistent with the Constitution and therefore null and void," Sisulu said.

"He does not attack or contest the original constitutional powers vested upon the NA as a collective and composite constitutional law-making body."

Sisulu said Ambrosini did not contest similar powers vested in the national executive of "preparing and initiating legislation".

The powers of the NA were exclusive.

"An individual member of the NA cannot compete with the NA, or assume that power. The Constitution does not confer upon him or her similar powers, or authorise him or her to take over that power," Sisulu said.

Read more on:    constitutional court  |  max sisulu  |  judiciary

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Amazing solar inventions!

Solar power is lighting up the world, and not just on rooftops anymore.



Prince George the green prince?
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The full moon energy can be quite intense today as your emotions fight against reason. It is important to ground your ideas more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.