FILE: Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – The highly contested Traditional Courts Bill has been rammed through the National Assembly, thanks to a retrospective vote by the presiding officer, house chairperson and African National Congress Member of Parliament Grace Boroto.

Boroto cast her vote after a walkout by Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs collapsed the quorum in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, leaving it one member short of the necessary 201 MPs to the pass the bill.

The vote went 195 in favour and five against with no abstentions, a total of just 200.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery told Boroto that if she voted, the quorum would be reached; which she then did, sparking the outrage of the DA’s chief whip John Steenhuisen and the EFF’s Nazier Paulsen.

“So, I’m casting my vote to the positive, which makes it 201. The number of members in the House is what matters, including myself presiding here, we’re 201, which makes the quorum,” Boroto said.

The bill aims to regulate traditional courts, but opposition parties say the removal of an opt-out clause makes it unconstitutional.

It will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence but will only be dealt with in the sixth Parliament – to be constituted after the May elections.

EWN