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Time given to amend independent candidates legislation 'unfair' – ANC chief whip Majodina

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Time given to amend independent candidates legislation 'unfair' – ANC chief whip Majodina

25th June 2020

By: News24Wire

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It is "unfair" and an "overreach" for the Constitutional Court to give Parliament 24 months to amend legislation to allow independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections, African National Congress chief whip Pemmy Majodina said.

The National Assembly Programming Committee received a legal opinion on the judgment at its meeting on Thursday morning.

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Freedom Front Plus chief whip Corné Mulder described it as a "strange judgment". He said that when the Constitutional Court certified the Constitution, after it was passed in 1996, it agreed that political parties would be the way the electorate's will should be expressed

"It is a very strange judgment," Majodina agreed. "But the ball is in the court of Parliament now."

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She said that it was "unfair" for the court to give Parliament only 24 months for the "very cumbersome process" of amending the applicable legislation. "While we respect the judiciary, at times the judiciary overreaches."

She added: "I'm not attacking the judiciary, but its judiciary overreach to an extent that we are lawmakers and we are supposed to follow each and every process. But to give us 24 months that we must do this process!

She added that the judgment was very ambitious.

National Assembly programming whip, Chana Pilane-Majake, accused the judiciary of encroaching on Parliament's work.

She said she understands that in a constitutional democracy, Parliament's sovereignty is taken away to prevent it from passing unjust laws. But "more and more" lately, the judiciary's decisions were "just instructing Parliament" while no unjust laws are made.

But Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said any debate on the legislature's relationship with the judiciary was secondary. They now had to focus on the work that had to be done in 24 months.

"We should have started yesterday," he said.

The legal opinion, by Parliament's chief legal advisor Zuraya Adhikarie, recommended that the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs invite the Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to address the committee on the steps that the department proposed to take to address the judgment and correct the defect as soon as possible.

"It is further recommended that the executive and Parliament collaborates on a timeline for the development of the Bill and the subsequent processing of the Bill in Parliament in order to ensure that the Bill is sent for assent prior to the 10 June 2022 deadline," read the legal opinion.

"It is also recommended that there be a clear and co-ordinated division of labour and roles between the executive and Parliament, bearing in mind that the deadline is imposed on Parliament, but the larger portion of work to be done, namely the development of policy and the development of a Bill, will rest with the executive."

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs is scheduled to meet later on Thursday to discuss the court ruling.

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