While the bill was passed with support from most parties, the Democratic Alliance bemoaned ‘procedural flaws’.
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill has been passed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
Current laws defining the transparency and protocol relating to South Africa’s electoral processes are one step closer the being altered. The latest decision advocated by the NCOP leaves only one more procedural hurdle between proposition and law.
The final call rests with President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will now have the opportunity to sign the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill into the legislature, before the national election which is likely to take place in May of this year.
DA complains of flawed process
After being endorsed by the National Assembly in 2018, the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill made its way to a special sitting of the NCOP on Thursday. While the bill was passed with unanimous support from most parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) bemoaned ‘procedural flaws’ which negated the opposition party’s proposed amendments. The Leader of the DA in the NCOP, Cathy Labuschagne, said:
“Today, Chairperson of the NCOP, Thandi Modise, violated the Constitutional rights of all South Africans abroad by disallowing the consideration of the DA’s proposed amendments to the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill.
The DA’s proposed amendments aimed to provide for South Africans to be able to vote abroad with either their ID document or valid South African passport instead of having to produce both.”
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill
The amendment bill proposes three major changes. These alterations will impact both voters and registered political parties contesting national and provincial elections.
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill makes it illegal for public funds to be used for political campaigning. The exception to this clause is money allocated annually by the government.
Another proposal of the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill seeks allows voters whose addresses are not yet on the voters’ roll to cast a ballot.
If signed into law, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will be forced to change its policy – after the Constitutional Court, in 2013, ruled that the organisation was duty-bound to record voters’ addresses.
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill also states that the cut-off date for voter registration must be on the same day that the President announces the final election dates. While President Ramaphosa has yet to officially declare when voting will begin for the 2019 general election, he has previously hinted that polls would open at the end of May.