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Cabinet approves bill to pave way for independent candidates to contest for seats in parliament

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele.
Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele.
Image: Freddy Mavunda © Business Day

The cabinet has approved the Electoral Amendment Bill to be submitted to parliament. 

Addressing the media on Thursday, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said the bill was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.

The bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act to allow independent candidates to contest for seats in both the National Assembly and provincial legislatures across the country.

It came about after a ruling of the Constitutional Court which found the Electoral Act of 1998 to be unconstitutional as it only allowed for members of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures to be elected via political parties.

Currently, independent candidates can only contest elections at local government level.

The announcement by Gungubele came just a week after MPs and the speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, raised concern about the delay in the introduction of the bill.

Mapisa-Nqakula and other MPs' concern was that parliament might miss the June 2022 deadline set by the ConCourt to amend the law to allow for independent candidates to stand.

“I've decided that I will write a letter to the leader of government business to request him to urge the minister of home affairs to speed up the process so that it goes to cabinet and finally to parliament. That's a process I have seriously considered,” said Mapisa-Nqakula.

She was speaking after a meeting of parliament's programming committee last week.

“Cabinet approved that the report of the ministerial advisory committee on electoral systems reforms be submitted to parliament. The electoral system reforms were initiated after the Constitutional Court judgment declared, in 2020, that the Electoral Act of 1998 was unconstitutional as it only provided for the election of members of the National Assembly and provincial legislatures to be done through political parties.

“The ministerial advice committee report presents policy options that can remedy the unconstitutional aspects of the Electoral Act ,” said Gungubele.

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