Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill [B9-2010]: deliberations

Rural Development and Land Reform

17 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr S Sizani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The aim of this meeting was to deliberate on the submissions that the Committee received during the public hearings on the Black Authorities Act (BAA) Repeal Bill on the 20 July and 21 July 2010.

The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to read through the first two clauses of the Bill. He asked whether everybody understood exactly what was read and agreed with it. Everybody understood and agreed. This was done, he explained , because it was a procedure required by law, in the processing of a Bill.

A document was handed out to all attending the meeting containing an overview of the submissions and highlighting its most important components. At this point members indicated that only four of them had read the submissions and the Committee as a whole was not ready to have deliberations on the Bill. The Committee had decided to postpone the deliberations to Friday 20 August 2010.This would give members time to read through the submissions and the overview document which they had received during the current meeting.

The State Law Advisor then suggested, in the light of the fact that all submissions supported the Bill, that the administrative procedures to advance the repeal of the Act continued, while the Committee deliberated on the contents of the Bill and matters associated with it. In his view, the deliberations could run parallel to the administrative procedure.

The Chairperson opposed the suggestion and decided to uphold the earlier decision to reconvene the meeting on Friday 20 August 2010 and proceed from there.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that it was a legal requirement to read through the Bill clause by clause. He asked the Committee Secretary to read through the Bill. She read the following.

“Bill to repeal the Black Authorities Act, 1951; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

Be it enacted by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, as follows:-

Repeal of Act 68 of 1951

1. The Black Authorities Act, 1951, is hereby repealed on –
(a) 31 December 2010; or
(b) the date on which the last of the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo has repealed those provisions that were assigned to them,
whichever occurs first.

Short Title

2. This Act is called the Black authorities Act Repeal Act, 2010”

The Chairperson explained that the phrase ‘matters connected therewith’  was a very important addition, because if these matters were not dealt with, it would be possible to repeal the Act, but still have pieces of legislation connected to it, in place. One of these
‘matters connected therewith’ was the requirement that the provinces that had certain provisions of this Act assigned to the Provincial Legislature, had to repeal those provisions. Clause 1(b) mentioned those provinces as being KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

Both these provinces had been contacted regarding the repeal of the Bill and both indicated that the processes would be set in motion to repeal the provisions delegated to them.

He asked whether anybody had a different understanding of the clause as read. The house agreed that their understanding of the clause was the same.

The Chairperson instructed the Secretary to proceed to the clause concerning the short title of the Act. She read it again.

He said that he was told that some members felt that it was a waste of time to read through the Bill clause by clause, but, he explained, it was a legal requirement that the Committee had to comply with.

This part of the agenda having been completed, the Chairperson directed the meeting to the next point on the agenda.

At this point the Chairperson asked the Secretary to distribute copies of a document produced by the Committee, called ‘Overview of oral submissions at the public hearings on the Black Authorities Act Repeal Bill’ to all present in the meeting including visitors.

The Chairperson said that this document had to be read and any distortion or misrepresentation that may be present in the document should be pointed out to the Committee. He asked whether this document could be registered as read.

Ms A Steyn (DA) said that it could not be registered as read, but as having been received by members.

The Chairperson asked the members to rather note the document and to subsequently submit responses to its contents, which would all form part of the final report on this matter.

Ms Steyn agreed with reading the document and submitting responses to it and asked whether the submissions made at the public hearings would be discussed by the Committee. These submissions stated that just the repeal of the Black Authorities Act was not enough and felt that the Committee had to discuss the issues in the broader sense.

The Chairperson said that as ‘a new kid on the block”, he was unaware that the public submissions had not been discussed by the Committee. He advised members to read the submissions together with the overview, because the overview highlighted important issues within the submissions.

The Chief Whip suggested that the Committee made an opportunity available to discuss the public submissions, whether there were distortions in the overview document or not.

The Chairperson then asked how many members had read the public submissions. It emerged that four out of eleven Members had read the public submissions. He instructed the members to go and read the submissions, using the overview as a guide.

Mr M Swathe (DA) said that he was under the impression that the public submissions were going to be discussed. It was clear that it was not going to happen. He wanted to know what the Committee was going to do then.

The Chairperson said that it was clear that the majority of the members did not come prepared to discuss the submissions, because they had not read it. The content adviser prepared the overview to guide the members in terms of what to look for when reading the submissions. He reiterated that members had to go back and read the submissions.

There was a submission by the Legal Resources centre to the Speaker of the House which stated that only three members remained to listen to their submission. The rest had left. The Chairperson said that he would deal with those members who were absent, because it was the role of the Chairperson to see that members approached their duties with the necessary seriousness. He explained that this was the reason why he urged the members to read the submissions, to submit their inputs and to then compile and adopt a comprehensive report that the Committee as a whole would own.

Ms Steyn asked the Chairperson to reassess the programme of the Committee, because the programme was currently very tight and unscheduled which made it difficult for the members to plan and prepare for meetings. She did not have a problem with Committee meetings on Fridays, but she had to be informed well in advance. As a case in point, the members only received the documentation to prepare themselves for the deliberations in the current meeting during the same meeting where the discussion was supposed to have taken place.

The Chairperson said that the Committee programme would be assessed on Friday 20 August 2010. There was a programme, but it was disrupted in a sense by the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer Tournament. It would have to be rethought and adopted again. The agreed time was 09h00.

The Chairperson apologised to people present in the meeting who had come to Parliament especially to attend the meeting and said that the waste of time was not intentional.

The State Law Advisor said that all submissions supported the repeal of the Black Authorities Act (BAA). For this reason there was nothing holding the Committee back from proceeding with the administrative processes to repeal the BAA. The discussions could happen parallel to these administrative processes.

The Chairperson found the suggestion of the State Law Advisor unacceptable, because only four members had read the submissions. Without having read the submissions, the members were not aware of the fact that all submissions supported the repeal of the BAA. The Committee would uphold the decision to have a thorough discussion on the Bill on Friday 20 August 2010 and thus follow the proper procedure.

Dr Nozizwe Makgalemele, Acting Director General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, apologised in advance for the fact that she and Mr Mdu Shabane, Deputy Director General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform would not be able to attend the Committee meeting on Friday 20 August 2010.

The meeting was adjourned.


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