Zuma sends back controversial bill

President Jacob Zuma has referred the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill back to the National Assembly as he believes there are some constitutional issues.

The bill has been sitting on Zuma’s desk for months despite its importance in ensuring South Africa’s system of financial regulation complies with its international obligations.

The bill will impose more onerous obligations on banks to know their clients and in particular exposed persons such as politicians‚ government officials and directors of companies contracting with government.

Zuma said yesterday certain provisions of the bill did not pass constitutional muster.

Critics of his long delay in promulgating the law have claimed he is trying to protect those benefiting from corruption‚ such as the Guptas.

The Financial Intelligence Centre Act was the instrument behind the decision of four major banks to terminate their banking relationships with Gupta-owned companies.

The Presidency said Zuma had raised concerns about provisions in the bill relating to warrantless searches‚ which according to him fell short of the constitutional standard required for the provision not to unjustifiably limit the right to privacy.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution wrote to Zuma warning him to sign the amendment bill‚ failing which he risked court action. It launched its legal action earlier this month.

Zuma has been accused of breaking his oath of office by not signing the bill, which was passed by parliament in May.

The bill has aroused ire in some ANC quarters and the Presidency said in August the delay was because the Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF)‚ a lobby group established by former government spokesman Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi‚ had lodged an objection over its constitutionality. – TMG Digital