We welcome the Constitutional Court’s Order granting Parliament an extension from 10 June to 10 December 2022 to finalise the Electoral Amendment Bill. In its current form, the Amendment Bill is flawed, because its process has been marred by delays and a shallow public participation process.
Parliament requested the extension in April 2022, after realising that it did not properly deliberate the Bill and public participation was inadequate.
Considering these failures, it’s clear that there has been little political will to finalise this process. This is of serious concern considering that this is one of the most important legislative endeavours since the dawn of our democracy. The Bill could fundamentally change how we vote, who represents us and how decisions are made on our behalf.
The integrity, therefore, of the process in the next six months cannot afford to be jeopardised. Parliament cannot act in the same way that it did in the past two years. At the crux of the flawed process was the shallow public participation process. A group of civil society organisations have already written to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, stating the issues relating to public participation:
- The Committee failed on its mandate to properly educate the public on the Bill and the purpose of the public participation process.
- The Committee failed to give adequate notice to the public before the public hearings on the Bill.
- Parliament failed on its duty to facilitate public participation.
- Parliament failed to clearly present to the public the options for a reformed electoral system.
On Friday, 10 June 2022, we wrote to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs requesting information on how these flaws will be addressed over the next six months. We are especially concerned as Parliament will be on a two-month recess from 15 June to 15 August 2022.
We will closely follow the Electoral Amendment Bill process in the upcoming months. Further, we call on Parliament to give priority to the Electoral Amendment Bill, especially as we move towards the 2024 General Elections. The future of our electoral system will be impacted by the processes that unfold over the next six months. Parliament must ensure that the flaws are addressed and that public participation is meaningful and adequate.
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