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MPs to discuss new law to allow independent candidates to stand as legislators

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli says Bill on electoral laws has been sent to Speaker. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli says Bill on electoral laws has been sent to Speaker. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 2, 2021

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Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli has confirmed that Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has received a Bill from Cabinet that would allow Parliament to change the laws for independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections.

Hope Papo, who is the Parliamentary counsellor to Deputy President David Mabuza, also said the Bill was sent to Mapisa-Nqakula.

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However, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina also said the ruling party wants an ad hoc committee to be established to process the Electoral Act.

The meeting of the programming committee on Thursday resolved that feedback would also be received after political parties had agreed on the direction to be taken.

Cabinet last week announced that it had sent the bill to Mapisa-Nqakula for amendments to the Electoral Act to allow for independent candidates to stand as MPs and MPLs.

This came after the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the New Nation Movement that independent candidates must be able to stand for seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. Currently, the law only allows independent candidates to stand as councillors, but the amendments, as ordered by the Constitutional Court, would now allow independent candidates to stand as MPs and MPLs.

Tsenoli said they needed to meet the deadline of finalising the Electoral Act.

“There is progress in the sense that the Speaker received feedback, a very comprehensive feedback. This is going to be circulated to you soon. It’s a 75-page report on what has happened all along, including reports from Cabinet and so on. That report is with the Speaker and we will pass it on to you members in the appropriate format,” said Tsenoli

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Majodina said they want an ad hoc committee to be established to handle it.

“Deputy Speaker, given the complexity of the Electoral Act and the time and expertise that is needed there we, as the ANC, want to propose that we establish an ad hoc committee that is going to look at the matter so that we can be able to deliver this within the appropriate time,” said Majodina.

But EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi said this fell within the mandate of the portfolio committee on home affairs and not the ad hoc committee.

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She said she hoped Majodina would brief the other parties in the chief whips forum on the proposal of the ANC to have an ad hoc committee established.

Tsenoli said the ball was in the court of political parties and they would give the presiding officers feedback on the outcome of the meeting.

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