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PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
31 OCTOBER 2001
COMMISSION 185 BILL: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Mr IY Carrim
Documents handed out:
Summary of Public Submissions
Proposed amendments to the Commission 185 Bill [B62-2001]
The Committee deliberated on the duration and frequency of meetings of the National Consultative Conference. This Conference is where the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities is expected to derive its mandate. The powers and duties of the Commission were spelt out, as well as its relationship with other structures of government. The change of cultural or other councils into community councils was discussed at length.
PART 6: National Consultative Conference
Clause 24 (1)
The commission may convene a national consultative conference with the concurrence of the Minister.
Mr P Smith (IFP) suggested that the National Consultative Conference should sit in two or three years time so as to enable the commission to account both to Parliament and to the Minister.
Mr Y Carrim (ANC) agreed with Smith that the conference should be convened at least once every three years or twice in the five-year term. He said the commission should increasingly get its mandate from the people on the ground.
Ms G Borman (DP) said that since the Commission will be doing a lot of work, they should decide themselves how often to convene a conference. It would be exciting if, for instance, they are allowed to meet on a regular basis.
Rev A Goosen (ANC) said he is in favour of a longer period between conferences that will allow the commission to derive its mandate from the people. He thought the conference should be convened in the first three years of the commission’s existence.
Mr Smith suggested that the commission must have a conference within its first year to enable it to derive its mandate, and then after that could have another conference in two and a half years time that would take them through the term.
Ms C Lobe (ANC) supported the view that the commission should have a conference in the first year of their term and towards the last part of their term. She proposed this because she realised that the commission had to derive its mandate from somewhere and a forum that could serve that purpose is none other than the national consultative forum.
Dr Bouwer said the proposal that the commission should meet twice in its five-year term could be accommodated.
The commission is responsible for the generation of funds for the national consultative conference.
Mr Smith asked how the commission could be responsible for the generation of funds for the conference. If it is seeking additional funding that is fine, but it cannot be responsible for the generation of funding. He said this should be part of the budget that will be allocated to the commission.
Johan Beukman (Department) said the reason why it is worded like that is because nowhere else in the Bill is a provision made for the commission to generate funds. For the conference they could go and seek extra funding outside state coffers. The conference could be too costly that is why they formulated the paragraph in such a way that it allows the commission to seek extra funding somewhere.
Dr Bouwer said the Department has to find out to what extent that could be done. Because there are certain rules regarding donor money.
Mr Carrim argued that surely the commission should be allowed to raise funds in the same way the Human Rights Commission and the Gender Commission does. This should be put as a general clause. It should be very clear that this does not mean the commission will raise all the funds from external forces, they can raise funds from government sources or use their budget for the conference. Otherwise what Dr Bouwer says is correct.
The purpose of a national consultative conference is to provide a forum for (a) the consideration of – (i) a report by the Commission on its activities, accomplishments and challenges; and
(ii) any recommendations of the Commission;
Ms Borman asked about the practicality of the commission reporting on its activities, accomplishments and challenges. Would it be in the form of reporting to the people, in a forum or in another manner?
Mr Beukman responded that the manner in which they report is not prescribed. It is said in the clause that the purpose of a national consultative conference is to provide a forum for the consideration of a report by the Commission on its activities, accomplishments and challenges. Meaning that there must be a form of discussion on how the reports will be made.
Mr Carrim suggested that there should be a loose wording that seeks to say that copies will be made available to the cultural councils or the stakeholders that attend that particular consultative conference.
A national consultative conference may be composed of such persons as the Commission may invite.
Mr Carrim raised the issue of those communities that are remote whom the commission might not know about. He suggested that the commission must also advertise so that those who want to apply should apply, apart from those invited. The commission should invite and advertise.
Dr Bouwer asked whether the invitations and advertisements would be made nationally because placing the advert in one newspaper does not mean it will reach every corner of this country.
Mr Carrim referred to the proposed amendment in page 11 "procedure for appointment of members". He asked for clarity from the Department on the meaning of its requirement that it be done through advertisements in the media, nationally and in each of the provinces.
Dr Bouwer replied that this paragraph refers to the procedure for the appointment of members not the composition of the national consultative conference.
The committee agreed that whilst invitations will be made, there would be a need for advertisements for those who are not in the database.
Ms Borman asked what the purpose of Clause 26(d) is, whereas in Clause 26(b) it is said that delegates from cultural, religious and linguistic communities are invited by the Commission to represent communities? Is the National House of Traditional Leaders not representing cultural and linguistic groups?
Mr Carrim replied that the National House of Traditional Leaders is something more than just a cultural and linguistic group, it is a statutory body.
Ms Borman asked whether this means that the traditional leaders will be excluded in other roles, for example in the cultural councils. This question was not answered.
Mr Smith asked whether delegates from other statutory bodies like the Gender Commission and the Human Rights Commission would be invited in the conference.
Mr Beukman said that is not precluded but the problem is that it was not spelt out. He promised that it would be spelt out because this was a very important point.
Dr Bouwer argued that if they have to make advertisements as proposed by the Committee earlier, they have to fundamentally change Clause 26(2) which deals with number of delegates that may be designated or invited in terms of subsection (1). And Clause 26(3) states that the number of delegates designated in terms of subsection (1)(e), (f) and (g) may not exceed one-third of the maximum number of delegates in terms of subsection (1). He said the Committee should look carefully on those sections.
The Committee agreed that there should be a resolution committee because a person who is presiding may not be in a position to note all the resolutions taken in the conference. The chairperson cannot chair and note resolutions at the same time.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) said the resolutions are not supposed to be linked to the purpose of the conference, because the purpose of the conference in terms of 25(b)(I)(ii) is the evaluation of progress in South Africa with regard to the issues mentioned in (I) and (ii).
Dr Bouwer referred to the heading "powers of the Commission". The introductory sentence states (1) The commission may do all that is necessary or expedient to achieve its objects referred to in section 4, including …(a) to (j). One could put in a new paragraph including "giving due consideration to any request or resolutions of the national consultative conference". Mr Smith said the word "must" should be used not may.
PART 8: Cultural or other Councils
Mr Beukman said the issue that came out of their discussions in the Department was that the Constitution provides for a cultural or other council or communities in South Africa. It is proposed that these councils should be referred to as community councils, not cultural or other councils. The term "other councils" is very vague.
These community councils are primary aimed at improving cultural communities. In terms of language the Pan South African Language Board is in the process of establishing national language bodies for all eleven official languages, for Khoi and San languages, and other community languages. In terms of religion there are a number of national bodies formed by different religious traditions and faiths.
Mr Beukman said in terms of recognition of cultural or other councils they did not favour the process of registration. But in terms of regulations it would be possible to set criteria for a specific registration or recognition of community councils. They are proposing to put back formulations that were in previous regimes, specifically when it comes to what type of councils these should be.
Mr Smith said he liked the use of community councils; it was an improvement and it removed confusion. The Committee accepted the change of cultural councils to cultural communities.
In Clause 38 the following amendments were made;
A community council recognised in terms of section 37:–
-is a juristic person;
-must be composed of members elected or designated in accordance with a prescribed procedure;
Mr Smith had a problem with Clause 38(1)(b). Who would prescribe this procedure, is it the Minister? If it was the Minister how could he prescribe it for community council?
Mr Carrim said that what is meant is that the Commission must prescribe their own procedure, it does not mean that the Minister should prescribe.
Mr Smith said even if it is like that, does it mean that people from other cultural communities should elect a member in accordance with this procedure. Is the commission supposed to prescribe the procedure to be followed?
Mr Carrim said the reason why they are putting it this way is because they do not want fly-by-night community councils emerging. There must be a procedure so that the councils are juristic, accountable and they must have a constitution. This will also enable the community councils to ask for money from the government as recognised bodies.
Mr Beukman said there must be certain norms to be followed if a community council wants to be funded and be recognised. Otherwise the government cannot fund councils that do not exist or follow certain standards.
Mr C Aucamp (AEB) argued that this Clause 38 puts too much restriction on the cultural councils and he doubted whether there would be satisfactory results out of this clause.
Mr Carrim said the process is not closed yet. It is continuing and issues would be discussed. It will be wrong to suggest that the Bill will succeed on the basis of cultural councils.
Subsection (1) (e) does not prevent national, provincial or municipal contributions appropriated by a relevant legislature to a council.
A recognised council may apply to the Commission for financial assistance to carry out a project approved by the Commission that would assist the Commission in achieving its objects.
A Council recognised in terms of Section 37 must perform functions prescribed for such councils, including:
-the preservation, promotion and development of the culture, language or religion of the
community for which it was recognised.
-Monitoring, investigation, research, education regarding and solicitation of support for the protection and promotion of the cultural, religious and linguistic rights of the community for which it was recognised;
-Advising the Commission on and assisting in all matters concerning the achievement of the objects of the Commission.
Ms Borman asked whether there are any objective criteria for those people who will be recognised as community councils.
Mr Beukman said not in the sense that there is a registration process, that is why he said that could be regulated. That is something that could be put in the Bill or be regulated.
The meeting was adjourned.