Pretorius proposal to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, Lee proposal to repeal the South African Boxing Act

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

22 February 2011
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Three new Members were introduced to the Committee.

The Committee firstly considered the Pretorius Proposal to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act. Although this Committee was informed that the relevant department and its portfolio committee were not in favour of the proposal, which aimed to increase the involvement of Parliament in appointing the Land Bank Board, the formal notification had not been received. Members discussed how to proceed. Some Members expressed their dismay that this Committee was perceived as blocking any proposals that came before it, without at least giving those proposals the chance of being aired in the National Assembly. It was pointed out that the Rules had now been changed and that in future, provided that a proposal did not offend against six grounds, it would be passed on to the National Assembly. After debate, it was decided that the Committee should await the written submission before taking a final decision.

The Committee then discussed the Lee Proposal to repeal the South African Boxing Act. The Department of Sport and Recreation had indicated its intention to amend, but apparently not repeal, that Act, and it was agreed that the letter would be clarified, since it referred to the previous Minister of Sport, and that the Department would be asked to make a submission to the Committee in regard to the proposed amendments and time frames. A Member commented that it would also be useful to forward the submission to the relevant Portfolio Committee to assist it in debating with the Department.

The minutes of the Committee meeting held on 26 January 2011 were approved and adopted.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed three new Members: Ms M Kubayi (ANC Whip), Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC), and Ms A van Wyk (ANC) to their first meeting of the Committee. They replaced Ms Sosibo and Ms Twala.

The Chairperson noted that a memorandum forwarded by the Committee had, owing to a misunderstanding, been erroneously reflected as a Bill. It would be resubmitted so that the Speaker could put it on the ATC for acceptance by the House.

Pretorius Proposal to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, No 15 of 2002
The Chairperson noted that the Whip of the Finance Committee had advised him that the written submission of the relevant department had been forwarded to this Committee, but it had not yet been received. He asked how Members wished to move forward.

Mr P Pretorius noted that he had heard that the decision of the Finance Committee was that the proposal should not proceed any further. He suggested the Committee must now take its own decision on the matter.

Ms Kubayi cautioned that if this Committee were to proceed while another committee was still dealing with the matter, this could lead to complications, since the two committees could, simultaneously, reach different decisions.

Mr Pretorius explained that as part of this Committee’s process, it had to consult the portfolio committee responsible for the subject matter of the proposal. In the case of his proposal, this was the Portfolio Committee on Finance. This Committee knew that a decision had been taken, namely that the Portfolio Committee on Finance did not think that the proposal should proceed further. The formal written notification of this was still outstanding. However, he pointed out that the rules had been changed and this Committee would not necessarily need to consult any further. Therefore, he believed that this Committee could now take its own decision on the matter.

The Chairperson said that he understood that the reason for the decision of the Portfolio Committee on Finance was that a comprehensive approach was being adopted on how Parliament was to participate in appointing boards and other personnel, particularly in sport structures. It thought that consideration should be given to a holistic rather than piecemeal approach, so that different processes were not being run concurrently. This Committee had determined that it would be appropriate to hear the approach of the relevant department, and in particular whether it was considering amendments, and if so, at what time, to enable the Committee to decide how best to move forward.

Mr Pretorius said that although he did not wish to see this dragged on past its lifetime, he would have no objection if the Committee wished to delay taking its decision.

He noted that the relevant Department had indicated that it was intending to amend several laws in 2010 and 2011. The legislation around the Land Bank was supposed to have been amended in 2010. This, however, did not happen. Subsequently, it was argued that Land Bank fell into the category of financial institutions, which should have an independent board and the Minister was solely responsible for these boards. Currently, the Land Bank Act allowed for the involvement of Parliament, and his proposal was aimed at having Parliament more closely involved. The Department had not accepted this proposal. He suggested that the Committee itself must now take a decision on the matter.

Ms J Kilian (COPE) expressed her concern that it seemed that this Committee’s actions were killing initiative instead of allowing private Members’ input to pass through to the relevant portfolio committees. This piece of legislation would give the oversight committee a greater say in the appointment of board members to the Land Bank. There was constantly concern that the Executive might have too much power, and she pointed out that in a balanced democracy there must be effective oversight. There must be a meaningful role for Parliament to fulfil, towards building and supporting democracy. If any initiatives, from whichever party they came, were seen as oppositional, then this Committee was wasting its time.

Ms Kilian did not agree with Ms Kubayi that this Committee’s role was to be seen as competitive with any other committee, because the initiative could be evaluated. She believed that at least the matters should come back for consideration by this Committee. If an initiative went to the National Assembly, but was voted down by the full House, at least the initiatives had been presented. She believed that this Committee should engage with other Parliaments and do a comparative analysis of what provisions they had for private members’ proposals.

The Chairperson interjected that the issue was how to arrive at a decision.

Ms Kilian agreed that the Committee could wait for the final report from the Portfolio Committee on Finance, but must be procedurally correct.

The Chairperson asked what recommendation Members wished to make.

Ms Kubayi proposed waiting for the submission from the Finance Committee and then taking an informed decision.

Ms A Dreyer (DA) was very agitated and expressed herself very strongly, saying that whatever the Rules of Parliament and the Constitution said, this Committee simply seemed to squash any Private Member’s legislative proposals that came to it. It never allowed any proposals to go forward or be discussed any further. This Committee had developed a reputation of being “the graveyard of Private Member’s legislative proposals”. She therefore believed that it would simply be a matter of time before this proposal too would be rejected.

The Chairperson stressed that equal opportunity was given when debating, and decisions were always informed by consensus. Ms Dreyer’s allegations were not correct. The Constitutional mandate, and the Rules of Parliament were adhered to.

Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) proposed waiting for the Department’s submission.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) urged that the Chairperson pursue that submission, and that time frames be given.

Mr Pretorius pointed out that the Rules Committee had accepted the proposal that in future this Committee should be looking differently at proposals. Future proposals would be considered under the new Rules, which required that the Committee must, in future, confine its consideration to whether the proposal:
a) went against the spirit purport and object of the Constitution,
b) seeks to initiate legislation beyond the legislative competence of the Assembly,
c) duplicates existing legislation or legislation or legislation awaiting consideration by the Assembly or Council,
d) pre-empts similar legislation due to be introduced by the National Executive,
e) will result in a money bill, or
f) is frivolous or vexatious.’

He added that the Committee may, but did not have to, consult and must decide on the issue. If a proposal was not contrary to these six points, then the Committee would have no option but to pass it on to the National Assembly.

The Chairperson said Rule 235(a) should be the guiding factor. He summarised that the Committee would wait for the formal letter and would follow up and circulate the letter calling for a response to Members.

Ms Dreyer pointed out that there were no sittings of the National Assembly in the following week. She noted that Members based in other provinces would have to come to Cape Town just for this Committee meeting. She tendered her apologies, as she would be busy with her constituency commitment.

The Chairperson said that the decision on whether the Committee would meet would be given to Members.

Lee proposal to repeal the South African Boxing Act, No 11 of 2001
The Chairperson appreciated that a submission had been received from the Portfolio Committee on Sport.

Ms Kubayi asked whether the Department of Sport and Recreation (the Department) had given an indication as to how far its process was, and how it related to the Parliamentary Rules.

The Chairperson replied that it referred to the executive processes.

Ms Kilian considered if there was a serious amendment to the South African Boxing Act, but if it would not be repealed, then it would be important to pass on Mr Lee’s legislative proposal and motivation to the relevant Portfolio Committee, so that it could bear this in mind when deliberating on the Bill and interacting with the Department. Since the Department was already considering amending the Boxing Act, there would be no harm in passing this on.

The Chairperson agreed there was no harm, but the Committee should stand by what it had said it wanted.

Mr Pretorius supported Ms Kilian, but queried the letter sent. He was not sure why the previous Minister, Mr Stofile, was quoted, as there was a new Minister of Sport. He would be more comfortable if there were formal communication from the Department saying what the content of its proposed amendment would be, and that it was to be introduced by a specific deadline.

The Chairperson noted his proposal, and agreed that the Committee would write to the Department as suggested, before reaching its decision, and Members would be advised when the response of the Department would be presented.

Adoption of minutes
The minutes of the Committee meeting held on 26 January were approved and adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.



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