This article in M&G is certainly encouraging for folk looking for meaningful participation in the legislative process.
The Constitutional Court had to contemplate four questions, Ngcobo said.

Firstly, whether the court was the only one which could hear a matter of this nature and secondly, whether it was within the court's rights to "grant declaratory relief in respect of the proceedings of Parliament".

Thirdly, the Constitutional Court had to consider the "nature and scope" of a legislative organ of state to ensure public participation in law-making processes. Lastly, the court had to deal with the question on whether the NCOP had fulfilled its obligation to facilitate public participation when the Bills were passed. If not, the court had to consider the consequences of such an act.


The other two Acts, the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Act and the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, however, generated great public interest at the NCOP. Several interest groups requested public hearings, Ngcobo said.

"In these circumstances, public hearings were the appropriate method of facilitating public involvement in relation to the CTOP Amendment Bill and the THP Bill.

"But, as it turned out, neither the NCOP nor a majority of the provinces held the promised public hearings."

The reason given for not holding the hearings was a lack of time.

But this, Ngcobo said, was not a good enough excuse.

"When it comes to establishing legislative timetables, the temptation to cut down on public involvement must be resisted.

"The timetable must be subordinated to the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and not the rights to the timetable."


DFL spokesperson John Smyth said in a statement the judgment would show Parliament that it could not get away with "cutting corners".

"The case will be of great importance to Parliament in respect of all legislation, not merely health Bills, because the highest court in the land has now made it clear ... that Parliament must not cut corners but provide sufficient time and opportunity for citizens ... to have their say in respect of all Bills passing through Parliament."