ANC chief whip questions ConCourt judgment on independent candidates, accuses judiciary of 'overreach'

25 June 2020 - 13:01
ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina during the party's first caucus meeting in Cape Town on May 21 2019.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina during the party's first caucus meeting in Cape Town on May 21 2019.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina has accused the judiciary of “overreach” after the Constitutional Court judgment allowing independent candidates to stand for provincial and national elections.

The court found that exclusive party proportional representation could no longer be used.

The judgment, handed down earlier this month, gave parliament 24 months to correct the defect in the Electoral Act, going against parliament's request to be given 36 months to complete the task.

Majodina led the charge accusing the judiciary of “overreach” during Thursday's meeting of the National Assembly's programming committee.

She described the ruling as “very ambitious”, saying it was unfair for the court to expect MPs to correct the electoral system defects in just two years.

While mainly protesting against the 24-month deadline, she also questioned the contents of the ruling.

She began by agreeing with her FF Plus counterpart Corne Mulder who described the judgment as “strange”.

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Mulder said it was strange because when the Constitutional Court certified the constitution in 1996, it found that the constitution writers had decided that political parties should be a method in terms of which the will of the electorate should be expressed.

Majodina took the matter further, saying not only was the judgment strange but it was also unfair.

“When you talk about independent candidates at a provincial and national level, what type of a ballot paper are you talking about?

“What would be the prescript for one to be voted for, on the [provincial] legislature or for him or her to join national parliament?

“And what if this person dies, what happens on the list because there is no list of independent candidates?” she asked.

Majodina also reflected on how cumbersome the process of reviewing the electoral system was going to be for parliament.

She said the Constitutional Court ruling did not only impact the Electoral Act but also multiple acts that would have to be looked at. She suggested there would be six or seven acts that would need to be reviewed.

“This time frame of 24 months is just unfair and the sooner we make the judiciary know ... whilst we respect the judiciary, at times the judiciary overreaches,” she said.

“I'm not attacking the judiciary, but judiciary overreach to an extent that we are law makers and we are supposed to follow each and every process. But to give us 24 months that we must do this process!” she exclaimed.

“We cannot be subjected to hurry this thing and deliver proper results on time. It's a very ambitious sort of judgment.”

Majodina was supported by the National Assembly's programming whip, Chana Pilane-Majake, who said the judiciary sometimes encroached on the work of parliament.

She said while she understood that SA was a constitutional democracy where the sovereignty of parliament had been taken away in the spirit of ensuring that it does not pass unjust laws, lately court decisions were instructing parliament even though there was no evidence of laws being passed that made citizens' lives difficult.

“If there was a logical argument about how what is taking place is making the lives of citizens difficult, it would make sense,” she said.

Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, who was chairing the session, warned his colleagues, saying the Constitutional Court had made a decision and that parliament must organise itself appropriately to undertake a very complex set of processes to fulfil the requirement of the judgment.

“Any debates that we may have about issues relating to our relationship will be secondary,” he said.