ATC201201: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B 22 – 2020]), dated 1 December 2020
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B 22 – 2020]), dated 1 December 2020
The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, having considered the subject of the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B 22 - 2020] and referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 75 Bill, reports the Bill with amendments [B 22A - 2020].
1. The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B 22 – 2020] was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Affairs on 23 September 2020 for consideration and report. The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) briefed the Committee on the contents of the Bill on 09 October 2020.
2. In short, The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill (“the Bill”) seeks to amend three pieces of legislation, namely, the Electoral Commission Act, 1996 (Act No. 51 of 1996) (“Electoral Commission Act”), the Electoral Act, 1998 (Act No. 73 of 1998) (“Electoral Act”) and the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act, 2000 (Act No. 27 of 2000) (“Local Government: Municipal Electoral Act”), in preparation for the forthcoming general local government elections in 2021.
3. The main objective of this Bill is to:
- enhance the existing legislative mechanisms that ensure free and fair elections, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996;
- provide legislative authorization for innovations in electoral practices in keeping with best practice to improve the Commission’s efficiency in managing elections;
- align the Electoral Act with the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (Act No. 4 of 2013) regarding the protection of the personal information of voters against unreasonable.
4. The Bill was advertised in all official languages in the various newspapers from 11 October 2020 and the closing date for the advert was on 30 October 2020. After receiving submissions and requests for an extension, the closing date was extended to 6 November 2020.
5. In response to the call for public comments, the Committee received 12,305 submissions, as well as a summary thereof via the Dear South Africa website and another 28 from other stakeholders. The Committee did not hold public hearings as the Bill is regarded as more technical than substantive. The main issue that was raised was concerning clauses 14 and 21 of the Bill where it stated that the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) may prescribe a different voting method. The matter raised was that a different voting method is a policy matter that cannot be left to the IEC alone to decide inasmuch as the intention was to only allow for testing of such alternatives. Much of the concern raised by stakeholders and members of Parliament were around the potential risks and costs of electronic voting.
The list of the stakeholders that made the submissions were as follows:
South African Institute of Race Relations; Institute for Accountability Southern Africa; Helen Suzman Foundation; Dear South Africa, amaBhungane Center for Investigative Journalism and 70s Group.
Mr George Buthelezi; Soya Govender; Ms Carol Archibald, Furton Van Zyl; Rolf Endres; Mr Lucas Van Vuuren; Mr Vincent Nunes; Ms Ingrid Van der Berg; Yolo Petse; Mr James Gordon; Ms Loraine Blaauw; Johan Barnard; Maxime Mimaxa; Mr Darren Brand; Mr Michael Rockket; Robby Setzer; Ms Sandra J Van Vuuren; Ms Joseph Steyn; Ms Elizabeth Stewart; Nzuzo Khathi; Mr Bernhard Enslin and Ms Eleanor Woodman.
6. On 10 November 2020, a summarised briefing on the submissions was made by the Content Advisor and on 17 November 2020, the IEC responded to the summary of submissions. The Committee further deliberated on 27 November 2020 followed by clause by clause deliberations and finalisation of the Bill on 1 December 2021.
The amendments are as follows:
- On page 2, in line 7 of the long title, after “to”, to omit “amend” and to substitute with “delete”.
- On page 2, in line 12 of the long title, after “Assembly;”, to omit “to authorise the Commission to prescribe a different voting method;”.
- On page 2, in line 20 of the long title, after “addresses;” to omit “to authorise the Commission to prescribe a different voting method;”.
- On page 8, in line 47, to omit subclause 8.
Report to be considered.
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