Issued by Cathy Labuschagne, Leader of the Democratic Alliance in the NCOP, 13 January 2019
On Thursday 10 January 2019, the NCOP passed the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill which will now be referred to the President for assent. This after the Chairperson of the NCOP, Thandi Modise, violated the Constitutional rights of all South Africans abroad by refusing to allow the DA’s proposed amendments to the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill to be considered.
The DA proposed two amendments to the Bill:
To provide increased powers for the Independent Electoral Commission to increase the number of suitable voting venues abroad which would allow South Africans abroad to vote at any suitable venue. The Bill, as it stands, limits the voting stations available to the South African diaspora to only embassies, high commissions or consulates.
To allow one form of identification to be produced, instead of two forms of identification which the Bill currently requires.
Both of these requirements place an undue burden on South Africans abroad and would limit their ability to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. South Africans living in smaller towns or villages in other countries would be especially affected.
The Chairperson, Thandi Modise, rejected the DA’s proposed amendments on the basis that these should have been introduced in the National Assembly as they did not pertain to the Amendments being considered in the current Electoral Laws Amendment Bill.
Modise’s narrow interpretation of the Rules of Procedure in the NCOP was not only disingenuous but procedurally incorrect. Her finding will now place an undue burden on millions of South Africans living abroad, making voting inaccessible to those who live far from South African embassies, high commissions or consulates or do not have two valid forms of identification with them.
The DA will now petition the President, on the basis of Section 75 and 79 of the Constitution to reconsider remitting the Bill – as was passed by the NCOP yesterday – back to Parliament based on procedural irregularities.
The DA will continue to fight for the rights of South African citizens abroad to exercise their democratic rights as citizens of the Republic.
Sign our petition to show your support for our campaign for better access to voting for South Africans abroad.