Motsoaledi: Not possible to change Electoral Act without changing Constitution

Parliament’s Home Affairs portfolio committee was briefed on a number of scenarios for overhauling electoral legislation in the wake of the Constitutional Court’s June ruling that declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

FILE: Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that it would not be possible to effect changes to the Electoral Act without also amending the Constitution.

Mosoaledi was speaking during a meeting of Parliament’s Home Affairs portfolio committee.

The committee was briefed on a number of scenarios for overhauling electoral legislation in the wake of the Constitutional Court’s June ruling that declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional.

In the landmark judgment, the apex court found that the legislation stripped citizens of their right not to affiliate with a political party and ruled that independent candidates should be allowed to contest national and provincial elections.

Both the government and Parliament are under the whip to meet the Constitutional Court’s 24-month deadline of June 2022 for the Electoral Act and related legislation to be amended.

Various scenarios to meet this tight timeline were presented to the committee on Tuesday. However, they’re all based on the assumption that no constitutional amendments will be needed.

Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the committee that this was incorrect.

"I can put it to you, chairperson, that from the little we have studied, it is going to be impossible not to amend any part of the Constitution. There are quite a number of areas in the Constitution which need to be amended. So the assumption that we can carry on all this without touching the Constitution, I think is next to impossible, as far as I am concerned."

Motsoaledi said that he’d written to President Cyril Ramaphosa about the urgency of the issue and is set to present to Cabinet on amending the legislation on Thursday.

"Because I think this is an emergency for everybody."

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