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ANC's Majodina says ConCourt overreached with Electoral Act directive

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said she was not attacking the judiciary but felt that the time allowed to Parliament to deal with such a complex issue was unfair.

The Economic Freedom Fighters' bid to have President Jacob Zuma face impeachment proceedings in the National Assembly was heard at the Constitutional Court on 5 September 2017. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - African National Congress (ANC) chief whip Pemmy Majodina said that the Constitutional Court overreached itself with its recent decision to give Parliament 24 months to amend the Electoral Act.

In a judgment handed down on 11 June, the apex court ruled that the Electoral Act was unconstitutional as it made no provision for citizens to be elected to the national and provincial legislatures as independent candidates.

Majodina made the comment during Thursday’s meeting of the National Assembly’s programming committee. She said she was not attacking the judiciary but felt that the time allowed to Parliament to deal with such a complex issue was unfair.

Parliament’s chief legal adviser, Zuraya Adhikarie, told the meeting that the Constitutional Court’s ruling meant that the entire electoral system needed to be reconsidered.

"The whole electoral system must be reviewed and the process will require extensive development of policy, so that the new electoral system can accommodate independent candidates."

Parliament asked the Constitutional Court for 36 months to deal with the matter, but it was given only until June 2022 so that the work was completed in good time ahead of the next local government elections.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina raised concerns about the little time available for a complex process that would involve looking at a number of laws and not only the Electoral Act.

"Whilst we respect the judiciary, at times the judiciary overreaches. And I am not attacking the judiciary but the judiciary over-reached when they said that… we are lawmakers, and we are supposed to follow each and every process, but to give us 24 months (for us) to be done with this process…"

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli discouraged further debate on the matter, saying that Parliament needed to look at the practical steps it should take to abide by the court’s ruling, a process that will be up to its presiding officers and chief whips of parties to initiate.

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