CAPE TOWN – Parliament may have to approach the Constitutional Court for a second time to extend the deadline to amend the Electoral Act.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is currently considering at least four new amendments to the bill, which paves the way for independent candidates to stand in national and provincial elections.
On Thursday, Parliament’s legal unit warned that next month’s deadline may not be met, should the latest amendments require public input.
Parliament has already been granted six additional months to pass the Electoral Amendment Bill by 10 December.
But senior parliamentary legal advisor, Charmaine van der Merwe, said that it was still unknown whether the new amendments proposed by the NCOP would require public input.
These include amending the threshold for supporter signatures and a commitment to establish an electoral reform panel.
“If there are material amendments, there will have to be a call for comments, that’s the only delay we foresee and it’s a possible delay, it’s not even a given.”
Van der Merwe said that it would be up to the National Assembly’s Home Affairs committee to decide whether to accept and subject the new amendments to public comment, in which case, more time would be required.
“The extension that would be sought would be for three months. The IEC has been consulted, so behind the scenes there’s a lot of work being done.”
Van der Merwe said that any extension sought from the court to meet the legislative requirements would not impact preparing for the participation of independent candidates in the 2024 polls.