Military Veterans Bill [B1-2011]: finalisation and adoption

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Defence and Military Veterans

27 June 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Motimele (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee proceeded with the finalisation of the Military Veterans Bill.  The Democratic Alliance objected to the lack of time afforded to Members to consider the final version of the Bill.  They pointed out that the final version included amendments to Clause 5 (Benefits), which had not been motivated and costed by the Department of Military Veterans. Other Members disagreed and said that there was no need to delay the finalisation of the Bill.

The Committee agreed to the proposed amendments to the Arrangement of Sections and to Clauses 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 14, 22, 23 and 25.  The State Law Adviser proposed a further amendment to Clause 8 (1), which was accepted. 

The Committee proceeded with the clause-by-clause adoption of the Bill and agreed to the Long Title and Clauses 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28, without amendment.  The Committee agreed to the Arrangement of Sections and Clauses 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 22, 23 and 25, as amended.

The Democratic Alliance lodged formal objections to Clause 5 (1) (f), Clause 5 (2) and Clause 24.  The objections were noted.

The State Law Adviser briefed the Committee on the changes made to the Memorandum on the Objects of the Bill.  The changes were as a result of the amendments to the Bill.  The Committee was informed that Paragraph 4 (Financial implications for State) contained a typing error.  The correct amount of the estimated cost of implementing the Bill in the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework period was R1.6 billion and not R6.4 billion as stated.

The Member from the Democratic Alliance lodged an objection to the adoption of the Bill by the Committee on the basis that the Committee had no idea how the cost of implementation was arrived at.

The Committee adopted the Bill, as amended.  The Democratic Alliance withheld its approval of the Bill, pending the decision of the party’s Caucus.

Meeting report

Finalisation and Adoption of the Military Veterans Bill
Mr D Maynier (DA) objected to the adoption of the Bill before Members had had sufficient time to consider the final version of the Bill, which was distributed to Members at the meeting.

Mr E Mlambo (ANC) pointed out that the Committee had agreed on the amendments to the Bill during earlier deliberations.

Mr J Masango (DA) said that Members needed to ensure that all the agreed amendments had been included in the final version of the Bill.  Not enough time had been allowed for Members to do the necessary checking.

The Chairperson enquired how much time was required.  He was reluctant to postpone the adoption of the Bill.

Mr Maynier replied that the process followed on the Bill was at issue.  The final version of the Bill included amendments to Clause 5 to separate the benefits available to veterans and to their dependents.  The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) had not yet had the opportunity to present and to motivate the proposed amendments.  The provision of benefits to veterans and to their dependants had significant cost implications to the State.  The original cost estimations had assumed that each veteran would have one spouse and two children who would qualify for health care benefits.  Subsequently, additional benefits were made available to dependants, which had not been costed or motivated.  He asked if the Department would brief the Committee on the cost and motivation for the benefits to dependants and if Members would be granted the opportunity to consider the implications before the Bill was adopted.

Mr L Diale (ANC) said that the Committee had agreed to finalise the Bill during the previous meeting on 28 June 2011.

Ms P Daniels (ANC) said that the relevant amendments to Clause 5 were made at the request of the Committee. The DMV was not expected to provide a motivation for giving effect to a request by the Committee.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) asked if the Democratic Alliance wanted to delay the adoption of the Bill.  The Members from the DA were present during earlier deliberations and had participated in the discussion.  He agreed that the cost of providing the benefits was an important issue but felt that Members should be au fait with the content of the Bill.  He asked why the matter was not raised during the meeting held on the previous day.  He objected to the waste of the Committee’s time and suggested that the finalisation of the Bill be proceeded with.

Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) agreed with Mr Groenewald and added his objection to any further delay in finalising the Bill.

Mr Mlambo agreed that the Bill should be finalised as soon as possible.  There were many veterans in dire straights that would benefit from the implementation of the legislation.

Mr Maynier said that he did not wish to delay the Bill.  At issue was the matter of process.  He had raised the amendments to Clause 5 on several occasions during earlier deliberations and had requested a briefing from the DMV.  The amendments had not been deliberated on by the Committee.  Ultimately, the Committee would decide on the matter.  If the Committee proceeded without giving due consideration to the motivation and cost of providing the benefits, it would fail in its Constitutional duty.

The Chairperson ruled that Members had been afforded sufficient time to consider and that adequate discussion had taken place during the deliberations on the Bill.  He suggested that the Committee proceeded by meticulously examining each page of the Bill rather than only focusing on the Committee amendments.

Mr Groenewald agreed with Mr Maynier that the Committee had to follow the correct process in dealing with the Bill.  The Committee should agree to the proposed amendments [B1A-2011] and make a comparison to the original published Bill before approving the final version [B1B-2011].

Mr A Maziya (ANC) ascertained that all Members had the necessary documents to hand.

Proposed Amendments to Bill
The Committee proceeded with the approval of the proposed amendments (see attached document [B1A-2011]).

A technical correction was required to the Arrangement of Sections.  Point 2 should read “On page 2, in line 12, to omit….”.  The Committee agreed to the proposed amendments to the Arrangement of Sections and to Clauses 1, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The proposed amendment to Clause 8 (1) had to be changed as it was the duty of the Minister (not the Director-General) to place a notice of the establishment of the association in the Gazette.  The Director-General was responsible for the establishment of the association.  The Committee agreed to the suggestion made by Mr Herman Smuts, Principal State Law Adviser, to amend Clause 8 to read:
8. (1) (a) The Minister must publish the date of establishment of the association by notice in the Gazette.
(b) The Director-General must establish a body which is to be an association representing military veterans’ organisations nationally.

The Committee agreed to the proposed amendments to Clauses 8, 9, 13, 14, 22, 23 and 25.
Adoption of Bill
The Committee proceeded with the clause-by-clause adoption of the Bill (see attached document [B1B-2011]).

The Committee agreed to the Long Title and Clauses 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27 and 28, without amendment.

The Committee agreed to the Arrangement of Sections and Clauses 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 22, 23 and 25, as amended.

Mr Maynier lodged a formal objection to Clause 5 (1) (f).  He did not believe that the DMV should be involved with the facilitation of or advice on business opportunities to veterans.  In addition, the Committee was not briefed on the motivation for and the cost implications of providing the benefits to dependants in terms of Clause 5 (2).

The Chairperson noted the objection.

Mr Maynier lodged a formal objection to Clause 24 (Regulations).  The Bill made no provision for a verification process to determine whether or not an applicant for benefits was a bona fide military veteran or a bona fide dependant of a military veteran.  He considered the absence of such provision as a major weakness in the legislation.

The Chairperson noted the objection.

Mr Smuts took the Committee through the changes made to the Memorandum on the Objects of the Military Veterans Bill.  The changes were consequential. Paragraph 2.6.2 was inserted.  Paragraph 2.8 was changed in accordance with the omission of the sub-clauses under Clause 6.  Paragraph 2.9 was changed to refer to a generic association.  Paragraph 2.11 was changed to allow for an increased number of members of the Advisory Council.  Paragraph 2.15 was changed to refer to the tabling of regulations in Parliament.  Paragraph 4 (Financial implications for State) contained a typing error.  The correct amount of the estimated cost of implementing the Bill in the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period was R1.6 billion and not R6.4 billion as stated.

Mr Maynier asked for an explanation of how the cost of implementation was derived.  He recalled that the original estimated cost was closer to R7 billion.  He requested an explanation for the change from R6.4 billion to R1.6 billion.

Mr Tsepe Motumi, Director-General, DMV, replied that the amount of R6.4 billion reflected in the Memorandum was a typing error.  The Correct amount was R1.6 billion, which was the amount that had been approved by the Cabinet for the current MTEF period.

Mr Maziya proposed that the Committee adopted the Bill, with amendments.  The proposal was seconded by Mr Mlangeni.

The Chairperson read the Committee Report on the Bill.  The Committee adopted the Bill, with amendments.  Mr Mlangeni proposed that the Committee Report was approved.  The proposal was seconded by Mr Diale.

Mr Maynier accepted the explanation that the cost amount reflected in the Memorandum had been a typing error.  However, the Committee had no idea how the cost was calculated.  He considered the adoption of the Bill by the Committee without ascertaining the financial implications of implementing the Bill as a major failure in carrying out its duty.  He wished to have his objection placed on record.

Mr Maziya angrily refuted the allegation that the Committee had failed in its duty.  He accused the DA of political grand-standing.  The Department had provided a reasonable explanation for the change in the cost of implementing the Bill.

Mr Maynier stood by his argument that the Committee did not know how the cost of R1.6 billion was arrived at.  The decision to support the Bill would be taken by the DA Caucus and he reserved the right not to approve the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

Present

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