President Jacob Zuma’s recent referral of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Amendment Bill to Parliament brings into sharp focus what happens to legislation after it has been approved by the national legislature. The bill gathered dust on the president’s desk for five months before he sent it back. Several other pieces of legislation have stalled on Zuma’s desk. The Constitution is silent on how long the president may take to sign an approved bill into law. But, given that the separation of powers is a founding principle in SA’s law, it must be assumed that he cannot thwart the views of the national legislature indefinitely. Zuma also cannot simply ignore court judgments. The Constitution says the president must either assent to and sign bills that are sent to him or, if he has reservations about a bill’s constitutionality, he must refer it back to Parliament. If Parliament makes changes to the bill sent back to it, the president must sign it, but if he is still dissatisfied h...

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