Opposition Parties Petition The President: Electoral Matters Amendment Bill Is Unconstitutional

Multi-Party Joint Media Statement by: ACDP, ATM, COPE, DA, FF+, GOOD, IFP, NFP, PAC, UDM

2 April 2024

Ten opposition parties, currently represented in Parliament, have petitioned the President not to assent to the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

If the President assents to the Bill we would then be forced to join those in civil society, who have already given notice of their intention to approach the courts, to oppose this legislation on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

The Bill was required to make consequential changes to legislation governing elections in order to include independent candidates in the national and provincial elections.

The Bill was hastily approved by the National Assembly, and then by National Council of Provinces last week, and includes contentious and substantive changes to the Political Party Funding Act which were not consequential to the inclusion of independents candidates.

The substantive, and unnecessary, amendments to the Political Party Funding Act included a change to the implementation of Sec 236 of the Constitution which requires that represented political parties receive public funding on an “equitable and proportional basis” in order to enhance multi-party democracy.

The ANC opportunistically used the need for consequential changes to be made to the electoral system to substantially increase their public funding by 25% based on current representation.

This is achieved at the expense of all of the opposition parties except the DA which would also receive an increase of about 10% in public funding. Despite the benefit of a proposed increase the DA joins us in challenging the Bill’s constitutionality.

We have submitted to the President that this does not enhance multi-party democracy but undermines it.

We have also submitted to the President that, in its haste to pass this legislation, parliament has failed to meet the constitutional duty to facilitate meaningful and reasonable public consultation.

We are eight weeks from the 29 May 2024 election and we are all committed to contesting the election without disrupting or delaying the election timetable.

However, it is our duty as currently represented parties to protect the constitutional imperative of enhancing a multi-party democracy in the face of this existential threat to one of democracy’s greatest strengths.

We call on the President to refers those parts of the Bill which make substantive amendments to current legislation to the 7th (next) parliament for proper and constitutionally compliant consideration.

Media Enquiries:

Brett Herron, GOOD Secretary-General & Member of Parliament
Cell: 082 518 3264
Email: bretth@forgood.org.za
 
Janke Tolmay, GOOD Media Manager
Cell: 073 367 1223
Email: janke@forgood.org.za