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HEALTH PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 May 2002
MENTAL HEALTH CARE BILL & HEALTH DONATIONS FUND ACT REPEAL BILL: FINALISATION
Chairperson: Mr. Ngculu
Mental Health Care Bill [B69B-2001]
Mental Health Care Bill [B69D-2001]
Health Donations Fund Act Repeal Bill [B20-2002]
The Committee passed the Mental Health Care Bill and the Donations Fund Act Repeal Bill without amendments.
The Chair suggested that specific NCOP amendments would be considered. A report on the amendments should be tabled before the Committee so that the Committee members could deliberate on the two bills.
The Chair then invited Prof. Freeman, the Director - Directorate Mental Health & Substance Abuse to address the Committee on the proposed amendments whereafter Mr. Ramasala from the Department of Health would pick up on the Health Donations Fund Act Repeal Bill.
Briefing by Professor Freeman on Mental Health Care Bill
Prof. Freeman said that he would briefly address the specific areas of interest as suggested by Chair. He added that the Department of Justice had introduced the amendments to the NCOP and that the amendments dealt with purely technical matters.
Section 1 Whenever the phrase "High Court" appears, it should be replaced the phrase "Court in Chambers". Prof. Freeman explained that it was necessary for such an application to be disposed off in Chambers for faster remedy than go the long route of court hearings.
Section 5: it should not be necessary to request the master to do this since it can easily be done directly.
Section 6: it is not necessary to have another administrator in addition to the legal practitioner.
Section 7: 'legal practitioner' substituted for 'the administrator'.
Clause 48: same as clause 47, application to be made to a judge in Chambers
Clause 60: this is not being deleted but that made more succinct.
Clause 65: should refer to all persons and not minors alone.
Clause 67: is a purely linguistic change for clarity
Clause 70: it is considered that in the face of the rising and therefore unpredictable inflationary trends, the court should be set at liberty to exercise the discretion of fixing the appropriate amount.
Clause 74: is a purely technical matter and that this is a process people have to go through in terms of the current Act.
The Chair tabled the motion of desirability, which was unanimously endorsed by the committee. The Chair closed deliberations on this item at this juncture.
Briefing by Mr. Sello Ramasala on Health Donations Fund Act Repeal Bill
Mr. Ramasala informed the Committee that the Health Donation Fund was established by section 2 of the Health Donations Fund Act, 1978 (Act No.11 of 1978). He said that the current Bill seeks to disestablish the Health Donations Fund ("the Fund") and to repeal the said Act. He explained that the reasons for the disestablishment of the Fund were that the donations of the R27, 672.95, (interest included) made to the Fund in the past 24 years have been insufficient and that it was therefore, costly for the Department to audit the Fund. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts had accordingly advised the Department to disestablish the Fund.
Mr. Ramasala assured the Committee that the State would no longer incur any costs relating to the auditing of the Fund when the Bill is eventually passed into law. He pointed out that the Auditor-General and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts had been consulted and were fully aware of this move.
Mr. Gous (NNP) asked what would happen when one wished to make donations.
Mr. Ramasala replied that bodies like the Medical Research Council would appropriately accept such donations.
Dr. Rabinowitz (IFP) enquired where the money the Fund had collected so far would be taken.
Mr. Ramasala replied that all the accumulated funds would be paid to the National Treasury.
Dr. Rabinowitz asked why the Fund was established in the first place.
Ms Malumise (ANC) interjected that it would serve no material purpose at this stage to find out why the Fund came into being in the first place.
The Chair agreed with Ms Malumise and noted that the query by Dr. Rabinowitz was not that relevant.
Dr. Jassat (ANC) explained that for the most part research work was undertaken at private level and that this was where funding came in. He added that it was not surprising that the Fund had managed to accumulate a mere R 27, 672.95 in its 24-year life span. He pointed out that the reason for this dismal performance was that it was a fund managed by the central government and that the move was ill advised from the start.
Dr. Rabinowitz (IFP) asked why the money the Fund held should not be donated to the MRC instead of being paid to the Treasury.
The Chair said that the question called for a detailed reply and therefore unsuited for an answer at this juncture.
Dr. Rabinowitz indicated that she would abstain from voting noting that she did not know what she was voting about.
The Chair pointed out that the Memorandum on the objects of the Bill clearly explained the tenor of the Bill noting that it did not mean that donations are henceforth terminated or at all. He added that those who are inclined to donate could do so to the MRC or other appropriate body.
Dr. Rabinowitz suggested that there be a short debate on the Bill but the Chair overruled her since the meeting had not reached that stage yet.
The Chair then read the Donation Bill Clause by Clause and members voted in favour of all provisions therein. The Chair read the motion of desirability and the entire Bill was passed without amendments.
The Chair then invited members to consider the request for debate by Dr. Rabinowitz.
Ms Malumise (ANC) objected to the proposal for debate.
Mr. Nevhohodoxwe (AZAPO) asked Dr Rabinowitz to motivate her suggestion for debate on the Bill.
Dr. Rabinowitz indicated that she had no problem with the bill as it stands but that debate would allow a window of opportunity for members to look at and address their minds on the whole issue around funding to the MRC.
Mr. Nevhodoxwe (AZAPO) contended that what the Bill did was to effectively close the issue of donations in this area and not to open up a new topic on funding. He thought it inappropriate to brook the question of funding when the Bill was actually putting that very same question to rest. He said that Dr. Rabinowitz could raise the issue of funding at a different appropriate forum.
The meeting was adjourned.