The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has adopted the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill (B22B-2020) with amendments proposed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The committee received a report on the proposed amendments to the bill on Friday, which had previously been passed by the National Assembly.
The amendments proposed by the NCOP included revisions to Section 16 of the Electoral Act 1998 and Section 5 of Act 34 of 2003. One of the most important amendments proposed by the NCOP is the protection of personal information, with the recommendation that some of the digits of identification numbers be redacted in the voters’ roll made available to political parties and independent candidates.
Committee chairperson, Advocate Bongani Bongo, said the committee believes that the amendments achieve the intentions of the bill, which are to enhance the existing legislative mechanisms that ensure free and fair elections, in accordance with the Constitution; and provide legislative authorisation for innovations in electoral practices, in keeping with best practice, to improve the commission’s efficiency in managing elections.
The amendments also aligns the Electoral Act with the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (Act No. 4 of 2013) regarding the protection of voters’ personal information.
The committee also commended all the work that has been done leading to the point in the process. This includes the participation of the public, which is a mainstay in our democratic processes.
“The strengthening of the bill by the NCOP highlights the importance and relevance of the two houses of Parliament in the law-making process. The committee remains of the view that the proposals made by the NCOP found a balance between protection of personal information, on one hand, and the right to freedom of expression, on the other,” Bongo said.
The adopted report will be tabled before the National Assembly for consideration and adoption.