Electoral Amendment Bill: ConCourt explains extension granted to Parly

Parliament is still trying to finalise the Electoral Amendment Bill, which came before the home affairs committee this week.

FILE: An Independent Electoral Officer (IEC) opens a ballot box as counting begins at the Addington Primary School after voting ended at the sixth national general elections in Durban, on 8 May 2019. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN – The Constitutional Court said that it was in the interests of justice to give Parliament another six months to finalise electoral legislation for independent candidates.

On Wednesday, the apex court handed down judgment and granted Parliament a six-month extension to comply with a 2020 court order to amend legislation to accommodate independent candidates in time for the 2024 elections.

Parliament is still trying to finalise the Electoral Amendment Bill, which came before the Home Affairs committee this week.

In 2020, the Constitutional Court declared the Electoral Act unconstitutional as it requires that citizens be elected to the National Assembly and provincial legislatures only through their membership of political parties.

It ordered that the declaration of constitutional invalidity be suspended for 24 months until 10 June this year to afford Parliament an opportunity to remedy the defect.

But the New Nation Movement, which opposed Parliament, made the submission that if the extension is granted, the Electoral Act may possibly not be amended in time for the 2024 elections.

But the court said that it considered the steps taken by Parliament thus far to give effect to the 2020 order, as well as a detailed timeline provided by Parliament.

It found that based on the evidence before it, Parliament had met its burden to show that it would be able to finalise the bill’s legislative process by 10 December.

The court found that it was in the interests of justice to extend the suspension period to December.