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Parliament Briefed on Electoral Amendment Bill

February 11, 2022

Department of Home Affairs

Parliament has been briefed on the Electoral Amendment Bill.

The bill was tabled in parliament in January 2022.

The home affairs department published the bill’s explanatory summary in Government Gazette 45716 at the end of December 2021.

According to the explanatory summary, the aim of the proposed legislation is to give effect to the Constitutional Court decision in New Nation Movement NPC & others v President of the Republic of South Africa & others [2020] ZACC 11.

The decision declared the Electoral Act of 1998 unconstitutional to the extent that it “requires that adult citizens may only be elected to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures only through their membership of political parties”.

The Constitutional Court directed parliament to rectify the defective sections in the act by June 2022.

The bill aims to amend the Electoral Act, 1998, so as to:

• insert certain definitions consequential to the expansion of this Act to include independent candidates as contesters to elections in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures;
• provide that registered parties must submit a declaration confirming that all its candidates are registered to vote in the region or province where an election will take place;
• provide for the nomination of independent candidates to contest elections in the National Assembly or provincial legislatures;
• provide for the requirements and qualifications which must be met by persons who wish to be registered as independent candidates;
• provide the procedure to follow for a non-compliant nomination of an independent candidate;
• provide for the inspection of copies of lists of independent candidates and accompanying documents;
• provide for objections to independent candidates;
• provide for the inclusion of a list of independent candidates entitled to contest elections;
• provide that independent candidates are bound by the Electoral Code of Conduct;
• provide for the return of a deposit to independent candidates in certain circumstances;
• amend Schedule 1;
• substitute Schedule 1A; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

The portfolio committee on home affairs called for comment on the bill towards the end of January until 21 February 2022.

During the briefing, the department pointed out that the bill will require consequential amendments to be enacted to the Political Party Funding Act of 2018.

The Funding Act, signed on 1 April 2021, currently regulates the provision of public funding to political parties, as well as the restriction and disclosure of private donations made to political parties.

The department emphasized that independent candidates will have to be catered for in the Funding Act.

Research work on the current and future impact of the Funding Act on political activities in the country is underway set for completion by the end of February 2022.