Commission for the Promotion & Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities Bill

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Meeting report

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
5 June 2002
COMMISSION FOR PROMOTION OF RIGHTS FOR CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND LINGUISTIC COMMUNITIES BILL


Chairperson: Mr. Mkaliphi

Documents Handed out:
Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Bill
Bill [B version] (.pdf. file)
NNP Proposed Amendments to Commission For Promotion Of Rights For Cultural, Religious And Linguistic Communities Bill- 8 May 2002 (included in Appendix 1)
Committee Report on Bill (see Appendix 1)

SUMMARY
The meeting allowed for a report-back from each party on whether each party agreed to add the NNP proposed amendments that would give the Commission enforcement powers. The DP did not oppose the amendments but they were rejected by the UDM and ANC. The Bill was finalised with the DP noting its reservation to Clause 12(3) and the NNP noting its reservation that the Bill did not include the NNP amendments to give enforcement powers to the Commission.

MINUTES
The Chairperson asked committee members if they had consulted their party principals and were ready to give feedback regarding the NNP proposed amendments before finalising the Bill.

Mr. Nyakanye (UDM) told the committee that his party accepted the objectives of the Commission as set out in the Bill. However, his party was not in favour of inserting clauses that would confer enforcement powers upon the Commission. He argued that the Commission ought to be engaging and making the public aware about the rights of cultural, religious and linguistic groups instead of having powers to hammer those who transgress such rights. He contended that the Commission's duties as stated were constitutional and argued that anything outside that might be unconstitutional.

Ms Botha (DP) noted that the DP were not opposed to the NNP proposed amendments.

Mr Ralane (ANC) indicated that the ANC were opposed to the NNP proposed amendments.

Mr. Van Niekerk (NNP) said that the NNP felt it was necessary to have enforcement clauses to effect the Bill. He felt that the Commission had no powers to carry out its duties.

The Chairperson pointed out that Clauses 6(3) and 7 provided for the Commission to investigate, report and make recommendations.

Mr Van Niekerk replied that it was useless to 'recommend' - if the recommendations were ignored while certain people's rights were trampled on.

The legal advisors from the Department of Local Government and Administration explained that the Bill was broad and flexible and that the proposed amendments were constitutional.

The Chairperson then went clause by clause and asked members to interject if they had any reservations about a clause. The Democratic Party had reservations about Clause 12. The New National Party had the general reservation that they believed the Bill did not give any powers to the Commission.

The Bill was accepted by the Committee without the proposed NNP amendments and the Chairperson read the acceptance report (see Appendix 1) and the members endorsed it.

The preliminary date for the Bill to be debated in the NCOP is 12 June 2002.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
Report of the Select Committee on Local Government and Administration on the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Bill [B 62B - 2001] (National Assembly - sec 75), dated 5 June 2002:

The Select Committee on Local Government and Administration, having considered the subject of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Bill [B 62B - 2001] (National Assembly - sec 75), referred to it, reports that it has agreed to the Bill.

The Committee further reports that the following amendments formally proposed by New National Party were rejected:

CLAUSE 5
1. On page 4, in line 10, after "matter" to insert:

and required response from such authority or organ of state dealing with the substance of the matter

CLAUSE 5
1. On page 5, after line 13, to add:

(4)(a) If within a reasonable time after the Commission has published a finding that a language, religious or cultural right of a community has been violated or a policy or practice has been violated, and adequate and appropriate action has not, in the opinion of the Commission, been taken thereon, the Commission may -
(i) submit its findings to the Parliamentary Committees responsible for matters concerning this Act for consideration and the taking of appropriate steps to secure compliance with the Commission's findings;
(ii) refer the matter to -
(aa) the Public Protector, if the non-compliance with the Commission's findings relates to any impropriety on the part of an official or an organ of state;
(bb) the South African Human Rights Commission -
* if the non-compliance with the Commission's findings involves the violation of a human right as protected in terms of Chapter 2 of the Constitution; or
* if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the complainant has been threatened, intimidated or discriminated against due to involvement in lodging a complaint, a finding or other involvement in an investigation under this Act.
(iii) in consultation with the complainant, apply to a Court for an appropriate remedy, including -
(aa) an interim order;
(bb) a declaratory order;
(cc) an interlocutory order or interdict;
(dd) an order for the payment of any damages;
(ee) an order for the implementation of special measures to address the situation complained of;
(ff) an order to comply with any provision of this Act, or a published finding, recommendation or decision of the Commission;
(gg) an order that an appropriate amount must be set aside for the realisation of language, religious or cultural rights of the complainant.
(b) Where the Commission is of the opinion that an official, an organ of state or an institution has -
(i) willfully disregarded or acted in contempt of the findings or decisions of the Commission; or
(ii) frustrated the timeous and effective implementation of the findings or decisions of the Commission; or
(iii) failed to give adequate reasons for the non-compliance or timeous compliance with the Commissions findings or decisions,
it may apply to the Court for an order of costs in its favour.

CLAUSE 11
1. On page 6, after line 42, to insert:

(d) submit the relevant names of the selected persons to the relevant Parliamentary Committees together with reasons why they were selected, for response;

CLAUSE 26
1. On page 9, after line 49, to add:

(h) a multi-party delegation from the relevant Parliamentary Committees.

The New National Party supported the Bill, with strong reservations about the lack of enforcement power of the Commission, and it regretted the fact that the Committee took a final decision on political grounds and not on objective grounds, so as to strengthen the Bill and to give effect to the spirit of the South African Constitution. The New National Party further regrets that a request to accept the proposed amendments and thus cause the Bill to be referred back to the National Assembly for reconsideration, was refused.

The Democratic Party supported the Bill, with reservations on Clause 12(3).

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