Electoral Amendment Bill: OSA considers options after Parliament asks ConCourt for extension

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Alet Pretorius
  • The One South Africa Movement is considering its option after Parliament asked the Constitutional Court for a six-month extension to amend the Electoral Act.
  • The Constitutional Court gave Parliament two years to amend the law, but Parliament only started working on the law this year.
  • The law must allow citizens, who are not members of political parties, to be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

The One South Africa Movement (OSA) is considering its options - legal and otherwise - after Parliament indicated it had approached the Constitutional Court to request a six-month extension for amending the Electoral Act.  

On 11 June 2020, the Constitutional Court ruled "the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 is unconstitutional to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties". 

The court suspended the order of invalidity for 24 months to allow Parliament to make the necessary amendments. The deadline is 10 June 2022.  

Parliament left the drafting of an amendment bill to the Department of Home Affairs, and the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs only started working on the bill this year.     

The bill and the public participation process the committee has followed have come under criticism from civil society, including OSA.

READ | Electoral Amendment Bill process was flawed

"Given the significance of the bill and the required public participation process, it has since become apparent that Parliament will not be in a position to pass an amendment to the Electoral Act before the June deadline.

"The bill was only introduced to the National Assembly on 10 January 2022 - leaving Parliament with only five months to process a bill of such public significance and interest," read a statement from Parliament. 

"Accordingly, the presiding officers of Parliament approached the apex court to seek an extension in order to enable Parliament to properly deliberate on the bill before it and to ensure that citizens across the country are afforded an opportunity to meaningfully participate and share their views on the Electoral Amendment Bill."

Parliament filed papers with the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

OSA - an organisation pushing for electoral reform - said it took note of Parliament's decision.   

"With just 45 days to go, it has become clear that Parliament will not be able to pass a fair and constitutionally sound new law before the court-mandated deadline," read a statement from OSA spokesperson Mudzuli Rakhivhane.           

ALSO READ | More seats for fewer votes: How electoral reform could benefit ANC and big parties         

"In light of this, we are considering all options available - legal and other - and will make an announcement in the coming days as to our plan of action going forward.  

"As always, OSA will act as a constructive force by working with all interested parties and relevant stakeholders to achieve the best new electoral system for South Africa - as ordered by the Constitutional Court in the New Nation Movement judgment of 2020." 

OSA said it was committed to meaningful and substantive electoral reform to change the current broken system. 

"We want the best of the best for our government: doctors, nurses, school teachers, entrepreneurs, miners, factory workers, IT experts, academics, environmentalists, businesspeople, and governance specialists - people who work hard, know how to get things done, and want to see South Africa thrive. And we can only do this through a new electoral system."

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