Opposition parties to challenge Electoral Matters Amendment Bill

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Opposition parties are taking legal advice with a view to embark on a legal challenge against President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to sign the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill into law. The President signed the Bill into law on Tuesday.

Shortly after the President signed the Bill into law, opposition parties met to discuss a way forward. They say they petitioned the President not to sign the Bill into law arguing that it was unconstitutional.

However, the Presidency says there’s no legal obligation on the President to respond to additional petitions when considering a Bill. It added that in processing the Bill, the President evaluated all issues raised by political parties in Parliament and he looked at the fairness and openness of the process.

One of the sticking points in the new Act is the powers the President will have in determining the threshold for donations that should not be declared.

Also, the new Act changes the formula of disbursing funds in the Multi Party Democracy Fund, which opposition parties claim favours the ANC.

“The President appears to have signed that Bill into law and the parties have agreed to take legal advice on how we can oppose this Bill or this law or contest the passing of this Bill using the court system,” says GOOD Party’s Brett Herron.

“Previously the distribution of this fund was based on 90% proportional and 10% equal although the constitution determines proportionally on an equitable base. Now this is as far as we are concerned not in terms of the constitution because of this distribution the ANC will receive about 84 to 85% of the total fund and that do not enhance Multi Party democracy and therefore we and other opposition parties will see if we can approach the Constitutional Court,” FF Plus leader Dr Pieter Groenewald.

“We are deeply and utterly disappointed that although 10 opposition parties made a petition in terms of the constitution for the President to consider and his office, didn’t even have the decency to respond to our petition and we had to see in the media that the Bill had been signed into law. We are now seeking legal advice on how to proceed on a very urgent basis,” says IFP Chief Whip Narend Singh.

COSATU says the minimum threshold for which donations need not be disclosed, should be amended so that all donations are disclosed to the public.

The labour federation says this is critical in fighting corruption.