ANC Bill ‘will limit’ ex­pat vot­ing rights abroad

The Citizen (KZN) - - NEWS -

The Demo­cratic Al­liance will pe­ti­tion Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa about the rights of South African vot­ers cur­rently liv­ing abroad, DA leader in the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) Cathy Labuschagne said yes­ter­day.

On Thurs­day, the NCOP passed the Elec­toral Laws Amend­ment Bill, which would now be re­ferred to Ramaphosa for as­sent, she said.

This came after NCOP chair­per­son Thandi Modise “vi­o­lated the con­sti­tu­tional rights” of all South Africans abroad by re­fus­ing to al­low the DA’s pro­posed amend­ments to the Bill to be con­sid­ered.

The DA pro­posed two amend­ments to the Bill. First, to pro­vide in­creased pow­ers for the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion of South Africa (IEC) to in­crease the num­ber of suitable vot­ing venues abroad.

The Bill, as it stood, lim­ited the vot­ing sta­tions avail­able to the South African di­as­pora to only em­bassies, high com­mis­sions, or con­sulates.

Sec­ond, to al­low one form of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to be pro­duced, in­stead of two forms of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion which the Bill cur­rently re­quired. Both these re­quire­ments placed 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, Labuschagne said.

Modise re­jected the DA’s pro­posed amend­ments on the ba­sis that those should have been in­tro­duced in the Na­tional Assem­bly, as they did not per­tain to the amend­ments be­ing con­sid­ered in the cur­rent 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,” Labushagne said.

The DA would now pe­ti­tion the pres­i­dent on the ba­sis of Sec­tion 75 and 79 of the con­sti­tu­tion, to con­sider re­turn­ing the Bill – as passed by the NCOP –- back to par­lia­ment be­cause of pro­ce­dural ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

The DA would con­tinue to fight for the rights of South African cit­i­zens abroad to ex­er­cise their demo­cratic rights as cit­i­zens of the repub­lic, Labuschagne said. – ANA

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