The Legislative Specialist of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform briefed the Committee on the Rural Development and Land Reform General Amendment Bill. The Bill originated from the transfer of responsibility for 68 Acts to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform. The Bill corrected the definitions and references in the legislation to the relevant Minister, the Department and the Director-General. All the proposed amendments were of a technical nature. Advertisements inviting public comment on the Bill could only be placed in 2011, once the dates of the Parliamentary term had been established. The Bill would be delayed until 2011.
Members of the Committee queried how people living in the rural areas of the country could be informed of the Bill.
The Deeds Registries Amendment Bill and the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill were passed by the National Council of Provinces. Subsequent to publication, the Department received comment on the Bills. Fortunately, the comments were similar to the comments raised by the Committee during its deliberations on the Bill. The NCOP however proposed minor amendments to the phrases used in the Bills, which had to be accepted or rejected by the Committee.
The Committee obtained clarity from the Principal State Law Adviser on the procedure that had to be followed to finalise the Bills. The Committee decided to approve the Bills at its following meeting.
The Chairperson extended the good wishes of the Committee to the former Deputy Minister and welcomed the recently appointed Director-General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
Briefing on the Rural Development and Land Reform General Amendment Bill
Mr Mduduzi Shabane, Director-General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, said that he was looking forward to constructively work with the Committee. The Department appreciated the guidance, support and constructive criticism of the Committee.
Mr R Bester, Legislative Specialist, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, presented the briefing on the Rural Development and Land Reform General Amendment Bill. The recent proclamation made by the President transferred responsibility for 28 Acts to the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform. The definition of “Minister” in the legislation still referred to the Minister of Land Affairs, the Minister of Regional and Land Affairs, the Minister for Agriculture and Land Affairs and the Minister “responsible for the planning profession”. Similarly, the definitions of “Department” and “Director-General” were outdated. It was important to ensure legal certainty in respect of which Minister and Department were responsible for the administration of the Acts. Where necessary, the relevant expressions within the Acts had to be amended to refer to the correct Minister, Department or Director-General.
The legislation included references to other Ministers and Departments that require amendment as well, for example references to the Minister of National Education had to be changed to the Minister of Higher Education and Training; the Minister of Agriculture was now the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Minister of Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development had been changed to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The relevant Departments had been consulted and had indicated support for the proposed amendments.
The Department had published an explanatory summary of the Bill, which was published in the Government Gazette on 3 September 2010. Five requests for copies of the Bill were received from the
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) asked what procedure had to be followed in the processing of the Bill.
The Committee Secretary explained that this was the first briefing to the Committee on the Bill. The Bill had been submitted to the National Assembly. Once the Bill had been finalised by the Committee, it would be submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). As Parliament would soon be going into recess, the Bill would be delayed until the following year.
Ms P Ngwenya-Mabila (ANC) noted that the amendments were merely technical. She agreed that the finalisation of the Bill should be postponed. She felt that the Bill should be advertised to invite public comment.
The Committee Secretary responded that the advertisement had to specify the date and the place where the public hearings would be held. The commencement date of the first Parliamentary session in 2011 had not been determined and the date of the hearings would be affected by the Local Government elections scheduled for 2011.
Mr B Zulu (ANC) asked how people living in the rural areas of the country would be reached as most did not have access to newspapers.
The Committee Secretary said that the Bill was a Section 75 Bill and the Parliamentary Communication Services would be requested to make use of radio broadcasting facilities to communicate with the people living in rural areas.
Ms P Xaba (ANC) remarked that people living in rural areas would not necessarily listen to the radio. She suggested that the people living in rural areas should be verbally informed of the proposed legislation.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila reminded Members of the constitutional mandate to ensure public participation in amending. She suggested that the Bill was forward to constituency offices in rural areas so that the community could be informed.
Nkosi Mandela pointed out that the proposed amendments were merely technical amendments that had no effect on the purpose of the existing legislation.
The Chairperson reminded Members of their responsibility to inform people about the changes in legislation.
Briefing on the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill
Mr George Tsotetsi, Chief Registrar of Deeds, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, explained that the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill was submitted to the NCOP who recommended that the Bill was published. Comments on the Bill were subsequently received. Fortunately, the comments were similar to the comments made by the Committee during the deliberations on the Bill.
The NCOP had suggested certain amendments, which was not opposed by the Deeds Registry. The proposed amendments were in Clause 5 - on page 3, in line 50, after “the” to omit “sole” and after “of” to insert “the whole of or a share in”. The amendments did not change the subject but served to clarify the provision.
Ms Ngwenya-Mabila said that the proposed amendments were clear. She asked for comment from the State Law Adviser on the proposed amendment by the NCOP.
Mr Mongameli Kweta, Senior State Law Adviser, Office of the State Law Adviser, confirmed that in terms of Section 75, the NCOP could only propose an amendment to the Bill and could not effect any amendments. The final decision on whether or not the changes would be accepted rested with the Committee.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed to the changes suggested by the NCOP.
Mr Kweta explained that two documents would be produced. The first document was the A-list, which would specify the amended clause agreed by the Committee. The second document was the B-version of the Bill, which included the amended provisions.
Briefing on the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill
Mr Tsotetsi explained that the status of the Bill was similar to that of the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill. The NCOP had suggested that Clause 6 of the Bill was amended. In line 41 on page 4 of the Bill, the NCOP proposed that the word “sole” was deleted and the words “the owner of a share in such unit” were inserted.
The Chairperson invited comment from the Parliamentary Legal Advisor on the proposed amendments to both the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill and the Deeds Registries Amendment Bill.
Ms R Mathabahe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said that she did not understand the concept of sectional titles and was unable to comment.
Mr Tsotetsi explained the notion of sectional titles by giving an example.
The Committee Secretary explained that the Committee would need to formally adopt the two Amendment Bills during the following meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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