Animal Health Bill and NAMC Levy Application on Sorghum: deliberations

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The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.Â

agriculture and land affairs portfolio committee
12 February 2002

Adv P. Holomisa

Documents handed out:
The Simplified Version of the Animal Health Bill (Department of Agriculture)
Animal Health Bill [B 64-2001]
Application for the Implementation of the Statutory Levy in the Sorghum Industry (National Agricultural Marketing Council)

(Copies of the documents which are currently available in electronic format can be found on our website)

The National Agricultural Marketing Council presented the levy application on sorghum to the Committee. After a brief discussion period, the Committee adopted the application for the implementation of the statutory levy. The Department of Agriculture then briefed the Committee on the Animal Health Bill. The Committee discussed issues of definition, detection of infections and delegation of powers contained in the Bill. The Committee could not agree on how the amendments should be formulated, so approval of the Bill was deferred until further consideration of the Bill at the next meeting.

National Agricultural Marketing Council
Ms L. Moolman, Legal Advisor to the National Agriculture Marketing Council (NAMC), told the Committee that the NAMC recommended to the Minister that the levy on sorghum be increased from R3, 10 /ton to R5, 00/ton for the period 1 March 2002 until 28 February 2003. She said this was done to finance the information and research functions in the sorghum industry. Information concerning the levy was also available on the internet and newsletters were circulated in the provinces. She added that the research would not focus on marketing and would be dealing with other issues in the industry. In fact, 80% of the income from the levy would be spent on core business (research and information functions), 10% on administration, and 10% on transformation (development of emerging farmers).

Mr M. Magwaza (ANC) expressed his interest in the process of transformation in the industry. He asked what form of assistance the 10% of the levy to help emerging farmers (transformation) would take.

Ms Moolman responded that they would look at different ways in which emerging farmers could benefit from the levy.

The Committee approved the application for the implementation of the statutory levy in the sorghum industry.

Animal Health Bill [B 64B - 2001]
Dr S. Meyer, Director of Veterinary Services from the Department, reported to the Committee that the purpose of the Bill was to provide measures to promote animal health and control animal diseases; to assign executive authority with regard to certain provisions of this Act to provinces; to regulate the importation & exportation of animals and things; and to establish animal health schemes and provide measures connected therewith. The aims of the Bill were to promote the elimination of exposure to zoonotic diseases (diseases transmitted from animals to man) and to ensure unhindered trade in agriculture (if an acceptable disease control system were to be maintained).

Mr B. Radebe (ANC) asked whether the term “mammal� also referred to human beings.
He also expressed concern over the use of the term “things� in the Bill and suggested the use of “substance� instead of “things�.

Dr Meyer agreed that humans were considered mammals and clarified that the point was that the disease that they were dealing with could be transmitted from animals to humans. However, as veterinarians they were not allowed to deal with diseases affecting human beings and could only deal with animals. On the issue of the use of the term “thing�, Dr Meyer said a thing could be alive or dead, whilst a substance would not be referred to as dead or alive.

Ms B. Njobe, Director-General from the Department of Agriculture, added that the point was about the source of infection (thing) instead of substance, so the term “thing� would be inclusive.

Mr D. Hanekom (ANC) said the term “thing� could be problematic, a thing, unless defined, could mean something else. He made an example of a baseball bat - it could be a thing. The term “thing� needed to be defined.

Ms Njobe responded that the term “thing� was already defined in Section 1(a) of the Bill.

Mr G. McIntosh (DP) asked the Department how they would detect a person who had been infected with an animal disease. If there was a person working in the infected area, for instance, there would be the possibility that the person could transmit the disease to other people around.

Dr Meyer replied that the best the Department could do was to quarantine the infected area so that people and animals would not move in and out of the area. In addition, all movement in and out of the area would have to be thoroughly checked.                             Â

Mr M. Maphalala (ANC) said he understood the question of quarantine but asked what would happen if animals were from neighbouring countries like Namibia or Botswana.

Ms Njobe replied there were veterinary measures put in place to control the movement of animals in and out of the country and borders of the country were always checked. He added that these measure had been clearly stated in the Bill.

Mr Mclntosh wanted to know who would finance these measures, the national or provincial Departments.

Ms Njobe replied that this should be worked out by the national Department of Agriculture, the National Treasury, and the Department of Public Service and Administration because animal health was a national responsibility and not merely a Departmental issue. She added that Section 6(5) explained it.

The Chairperson read the Motion of Desirability and was supported by Mr. Maphalala and seconded by Mr A. Van Niekerk (FA).

Mr S. Abram (UDM) said that, since the Select Committee and other stakeholders had approved the Bill, there was no need for further discussion, and he added that they should just accept it without going through it clause by clause.

The Chairperson said the Bill should be read so that issues of clarity could be dealt with in each section. The fact that the NCOP and other stakeholders had dealt with it did not mean that they should not perform their responsibility as a Portfolio Committee.

Ms B. Ntuli (ANC) asked why Section 3(1)(a)(ii) of the Bill said that the National Executive Officer could delegate any power conferred on him or her or assign any duty imposed on him or her by or under this Act to a person who was not an officer. She wanted to know why power was conferred to a person who was not an officer and how it could be done.

Ms Njobe replied that the person who would be delegated by the National Executive Officer would be under the control of the National Executive Officer once he or she had been authorised.

Ms Njobe said the section needed to be dealt with entirely because the Act intended for everyone to be responsible for the bleeding of animals in the event of an outbreak of a disease. Everybody would be in a position to destroy the animals in the interest of national health.

Mr Maphalala said the definition of the DG was not in line with what was written in the Bill. There were loopholes in section 3(1)(a)(ii).

Mr Mclntosh said his questions on Section 6 on funding were not addressed adequately. He asked the Committee to allow for discussion on the issue at the next meeting in order to allow for amendments.
Mr Bhengu (ANC) said his concern was that the amendments might delay the passing of the Bill. If the Committee did not approve the Bill now, it would have to go back to the NCOP after the Committee's amendments. He added that he was also concerned because the NCOP process was very complex and the Bill would have to go back to the nine provinces.

The Chairperson said he was not aware that the Bill had to go through the nine provinces of the NCOP for slight amendments. However, if need be, the Bill would have to undergo the process, and he added that he did not think the NCOP would prolong the process.

The meeting was adjourned.

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