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Parliament, Friday, 10 June 2022 - The Presiding Officers of Parliament- Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr Amos Masondo, welcome the Constitutional Court’s ruling granting Parliament a six months extension of the deadline for the amendment of the Electoral Act, 1998 (Act No. 73 of 1998).

The ruling comes after Parliament filed an application in April 2022 to the apex Court requesting that it be granted an extension from 10 June 2022 to 10 December 2022 in order to give Parliament sufficient time to properly deliberate on the Electoral Amendment Bill and to ensure that citizens across the country are afforded an opportunity to meaningfully participate and share their views on the Bill in accordance with sections 59(1)(a) and 72(1)(a) of the constitution.

The Electoral Act,1998, was declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court in June 2020 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 gave Parliament 24 months, from the date of the order, to rectify the defect.

Following the Court’s judgment in June 2020, Parliament and the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs have undertaken various actions including meetings with relevant stakeholders, such as the Minister of Home Affairs and the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure that they together set in motion the process that would ensure that they give effect to the order within the stipulated timeframes.

A clear integrated roadmap was developed and agreed to by the role players which included proposed dates that the Department would introduce the Bill. However, these dates were not met. Several follow up communications were sent to the Department, which did not yield any positive outcomes, and the Presiding Officers escalated the matter in November 2021 to the Deputy President Mr David Mabuza, as the leader of government business, for his intervention.

The Bill was subsequently only introduced in the National Assembly on 10 January 2022, and it was only then that Parliament was seized with controlling the manner and pace at which the Bill could be processed, specifically mindful to ensuring that adequate public participation was facilitated.

This late introduction only gave Parliament five months to process a Bill of such public significance and interest.

Parliament will use this extension period to finalise the Bill. It is anticipated that the Bill will be sent to the President for assent by end September, so as to leave sufficient time for the President to remit the Bill to Parliament should he have any constitutional concerns.