Electoral amendment bill stalls election date proclamation – says legal watchdog

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By Staff Reporter

DEVELOPMENTS on the Electoral Amendment Bill in Parliament have rendered it constitutionally impossible for the proclamation to be gazetted in May, legal think tank Veritas has said.

According to the local watchdog, no electoral legislation can apply to an election after the President has formally called by proclamation published in the Government Gazette.

In terms of provisions, the authority for that is section 157(5) of the Constitution which provides that: “After an election has been called, no change to the Electoral Law or to any other law relating to elections has effect for the purpose of that election.”

The Electoral Amendment Bill, according to Veritas, must therefore, become law as an Act before the proclamation can be gazetted.

“The President will have to wait before having the election proclamation gazetted. He has at least until the end of June to gazette it while still remaining in compliance with section 38 of the Electoral Act,” Veritas said.

“The Electoral Amendment Bill must become law before the proclamation is gazetted.  It is essential to the conduct of the election if the election is to comply with the Constitution Amendment No. 2 of 2021.”

The Bill was given its second reading in Parliament on Thursday last week.

“The Committee Stage was still in progress, amendments having been made, when just after midnight, a halt was called after a marathon sitting.”

The National Assembly adjourned until Tuesday May 30.

Even if Parliament manages to complete the Electoral Amendment Bill on the 30th and 31st May, according to Veritas, there is no possibility that the Bill can become law before a date in June.