South Africa: Parliament Passes Promotion of Access to Information Bill and Approves Economic Partnership Agreement

press release

The National Assembly at its sitting today passed the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill and also approved the economic partnership agreement between the Southern African Customs Union Member States and Mozambique, as well as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill addresses the Constitutional Court judgement of 21 June 2018, which declared the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), Act No. 2 of 2000 invalid, to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Constitution on the disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The Constitutional Court further ordered Parliament to amend PAIA and take any measures it deemed appropriate to provide for the recording and preservation of political parties' funding information and had 18 months within which to remedy the defect in the Act, to allow for disclosure of private funding for political parties.

To give effect to the judgement, the National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services tabled a memorandum in the National Assembly on 24 July 2019, requesting permission to initiate a Bill.

The committee undertook a comprehensive public consultation process during the processing of the Bill, including calls for written submissions and public hearings. A wide range of organisations and persons made presentations before the committee and the consultation process resulted in the insertion of a new Section (52A) in the Act, aimed at addressing the Constitutional Court judgement.

The amendment directs the Head of a political party to:

a) Create and keep records of any donations exceeding the prescribed threshold made to a political party in any given financial year and identity of the persons or entities who made such donations;

b) Make the records available quarterly, as prescribed; and

c) Keep the records for at least five years

The Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill will now be referred to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.

At the same sitting, the economic partnership agreements between the Southern African Customs Union Member States and Mozambique was approved, as well as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The National Assembly's Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, having considered the request for approval by Parliament on the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Southern African Customs Union Member States (SACUM) and Mozambique, and the United Kingdom (UK) of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, recommended that the House, in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, approve the agreement.

The purpose of the Agreement is to provide stability for the trading relationship between the SACUM countries and the UK, once it formally exits the European Union (EU) and may no longer utilise the existing trading agreement between the EU and SACUM countries. The SACUM countries are Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.

In this regard, the UK economic partnership agreement provides transitional arrangements to enable South African traders to continue their existing trading relationship with the UK. It will maintain duty-free, quota-free access for exports from Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique and Namibia into the UK.

Issued by: Parliament of South Africa

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