Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B13D-11]: consideration of NCOP Amendments; Report on Study Tour to the Federal Republic of Germany

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

07 February 2012
Chairperson: Adv I Malale (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the amendments to the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill as proposed by the National Council of Provinces.  Some were grammatical in nature, while others referred to the definitions of concepts such as “immediate family” and “life partner”. Members sought clarity on these definitions and whether they were consistent with other legislation. The Committee unanimously agreed with the recommendations and referred it to the National Assembly. 

The discussion of the report on the study tour to Germany was postponed so that Members could study the report first.

Meeting report

Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B13D-11]: consideration of National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Amendments
Adv Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, advised the Committee that it could only comment on amendments proposed by the NCOP. 

The Chairperson said that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) had been given the opportunity to study the amendments.

Mr Eben Boshoff, Chief Director: Legal and Legislative Services, DHET, said that there was an amendment to Clause 8 of the C Bill.  This was an amendment introduced by this Committee.  Concepts such as “immediate family” had to be better defined.  This was important in determining possible conflicts of interest.  The amendments to Clause 33 were to address language issues.  The corrections were to be found on page 14 of the D Bill.  There were seven corrections.  These made for better reading of the Bill.

Ms N Magazi (ANC) agreed that that the definitions of “immediate family” and “life partner” were important as there were many relationships.

Mr G Radebe (ANC) said that the current definition only seemed to refer to a married couple.  He raised the example of a child born out of wedlock where there was no longer a relationship between the parents.

Mr S Makhubela (ANC) said that consistency was often a challenge.  He asked if the definition in the Bill was consistent with legislation falling under other departments.  There might be a problem if the definition in this Bill were to be challenged.

Dr L Bosman (DA) noted that his concern had been highlighted by the previous speaker. He also sought clarity on whether the definitions were consistent with normal practices and other applications in law.

Mr Boshoff replied to the example of the illegitimate child.  The definition referred to a biological child of a person.  In this example the mother was not a life partner if the relationship with the father ended, in the same way that she would not be regarded as the man's partner after a divorce.  The language used in the Bill referred to a broader family relationship.  A life partner was a person living with a member as if they were married to each other.  This referred to a committed relationship.  There was case law already.  A broader family relationship would have to be disclosed.

Mr Boshoff said that the State Law Advisor (SLA) had done a search through their extensive database. The SLA had confirmed that the definitions in this Bill did not clash with any existing legislation. There was case law.

Mr Makhubele said that no Members were opposed to the legislation and all were in agreement with the amendments as proposed by the NCOP. 

The Chairperson declared that the Committee unanimously agreed with the recommendations of the NCOP.  It would now be referred to the National Assembly. 

Outstanding Committee Minutes
The Chairperson asked Members consider the minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2011.

Mr Makhubele moved that the minutes be accepted as correct. 

The minutes were accordingly approved with no amendments.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee should continue to visit higher education institutions. 

Report on Study Tour to the Federal Republic of Germany
Ms Magazi said that she had received a copy of the report that morning.  This was the first official working day, and she had not had the chance to read the report.  She proposed that this be deferred to allow Members the time to study the report first.

Members agreed to defer discussion on the report.

Other Matters
Mr Radebe said that a letter would have been written to the Minister of Finance on the provision of funding for a university in Mpumalanga.

The Chairperson said that a report had been forwarded including this matter as one of its recommendations.  This was an urgent matter.  At the following meeting he wished to address issues relating to financial assistance to students.

Mr Makhubele thought that the Members had decided it was incorrect to transfer money into the personal accounts of students when their studies needed further funding.  This was money from the tax payer.  There was a case of a student being given R11 000 in December, but had no money for registration fees the following January.

The Chairperson noted that the Department had sent the Committee the Green Paper on Higher Education Transformation. Members should study the document and decide how it would engage with it going forward.

The meeting was adjourned.


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