The portfolio committee on trade and industry has proposed amendments to the National Credit Act (NCA) in a constitutionally impermissible way.

The portfolio committee is requesting permission from parliament to make further amendments to the NCA. On 13 February 2014 the committee invited public comment ‘in the event that this permission is granted’. On 14 February 2014 they issued ten pages of proposed amendments, most of them substantial changes to the NCA. The amendments were issued to a number of stakeholders who were ‘humbly requested’ to forward the email to any other stakeholder not included on the mailing list (whoever that may be).

The process will not survive constitutional challenge.

At 17:29 on 14 February 2014 the committee referred to three more major amendments but gave no details of the proposed wording. They called for public comment by 17 February 2014, giving at most one business day to comment on all the changes.

A portfolio committee is not parliament and cannot legislate in this fashion. The process also bears no resemblance to the constitutional requirements for consultation on new legislation. Let’s hope this extraordinary process will not be pursued because it will not survive constitutional challenge.