The Council for the Advancement of South African Constitution (CASAC) has instituted proceedings in the Constitutional Court to secure the President’s compliance with his constitutional obligations in respect of the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Bill. The application was lodged on Friday 4 November 2016 as Case No. CCT 270/16.
The FICA Bill was duly passed by Parliament in May 2016 and submitted for the President’s assent on 13 June, and yet the President has taken no action to date. He has neither assented to and signed the Bill, nor referred it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration based on any reservations he may have about its constitutionality, as is required by section 79(1) of the Constitution.
In its letter to the President dated 19 September 2016 CASAC urged the President to comply with his constitutional obligations within 30 days, failing which it would approach the courts to intervene and to order his compliance.
The 30-day time period expired on Monday 31 October 2016. CASAC has now approached the Constitutional Court for an order declaring that the President has failed to perform his constitutional obligations and ordering the President to either assent to and sign the FICA Bill or, alternatively, to refer the FICA Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration. This application has been instituted directly in the Constitutional Court as it involves the failure of the President to fulfil a constitutional obligation as provided in s. 167(4)(e) of the Constitution.
The Bill seeks to strengthen the regulatory framework to combat money laundering and the finance of terrorism, and bring South Africa into line with standards set by a global body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Failure to sign and implement the Bill could have grave consequences for our capacity to fight corruption, our banking system and in particular correspondent relationships with international banks. The latter could seriously undermine international trade and economic activity.