The Geomatics Profession Bill had been drafted to provide for a mechanism to accelerate the transformation in the surveying profession in a manner which would serve the interests of both the profession and the public. The surveying profession in South Africa was regulated by the Professional and Technical Surveyors Act, (No 40 of 1984). The South African Council for Professional and Technical Surveyors (SACPTS) established by the Act, controls and regulates the education, training, registration and discipline of surveyors registered in terms of the Act. The Act provides for the registration of different categories of surveyors, cadastral, topographical, engineering and mining surveying. The profession was still far from being representative of the South African demographics. Areas where the profession still needs to be transformed are: the composition of SACPTS, the entry requirements into the profession, the funding of SACPTS, rationalisation of the categories of surveyors, work reservation and disciplinary procedures.
The Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform adopted the Bill with amendments. Committee members raised various matters whilst debating the Bill clause for clause. A concern was raised about registered members performing work that they were not registered for. A member queried the clause regarding rectification of errors and wondered if this allowed the Minister too much power. A member was concerned that the Bill only allowed for a natural person registered as a Geomatics professional to be a member and shareholder of a company. The concern was that the Bill prescribed who could be a member or shareholder of a company and this could exclude potential foreign investors. The wording ‘member’ was also contentious because the person could exclude anyone not registered as a professional in the Geomatics field. The Chairperson was of the opinion that in the public hearings the Council was satisfied with the current practice that only registered Geomatics professionals were allowed. It followed from this premise that the regulatory body would have the necessary power to regulate the Geomatics profession and maintain the high quality and standards of work within this profession.
The Committee continued to go through the Bill clause by clause and adopt each clause.
Geomatics Profession Bill: clause by clause adoption
Chapter 5: Professional Conduct
The Chairperson requested that Ms P Ngwenya- Mabila read Chapter 5 that covered Clauses 19 to 24 on Code of conduct, Investigation of charge of improper conduct, Steps after investigation, Appointment of disciplinary tribunal, Disciplinary hearing, Proceedings after hearing.
After the reading, the Chairperson asked if there were any problems with Clause 19.
The Members were satisfied
Mr K Mileham (DA) responded that Clause 21(4) was worded clumsily.
The Chairperson asked the drafters to reword it to make it readable.
The Chairperson asked if Clause 22 was fine and the members all agreed.
A member queried the wording in Clause 23, saying it stated “a disciplinary tribunal”, but it should be “the disciplinary tribunal”.
The Chairperson indicated that “a” must be changed to “the”
Chapter 6: Appeals
The Chairperson asked Ms Mabila to read Chapter 6 covering Clauses 26 to 29 on Establishment of Appeal Board, Meetings, procedures and administration of Appeal Board, Remuneration and allowances of members of Appeal Board, Appeal against decisions of Council and disciplinary tribunal, and Appeal to High Court of South Africa.
Mr Rajendah Salig, Chief Director: Cadastral Advisory, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), was concerned about Clause 20(7) where a registered person who performed work for which he was not registered.
Mr Gideon Hoon, Principal State Law Adviser, stated that they would have to go through the whole Bill.
The Chairperson noted that it should be amended.
Chapter 7: General
The Chairperson asked Ms Xaba to read through Chapter 7 covering Clauses 30 to 40 dealing with the following matters: Professional fees, Regulations and rules, Procedure and evidence, Rectification of errors, Liability, Delegation of powers, Offences and Penalties, Transitional provisions, Repeal and amendment of Laws, Act binding on State, Short title and commencement.
The Chairperson asked Mr Hoon for clarity on Clause 33, Rectification of errors.
Mr Hoon explained that if anything was required to be done in this Act and it had not been performed and the Minister was satisfied that such a failure was due to an oversight, the Minister would avoid having to go to court for rectification of such errors.
Mr Mileham inquired what were the implications for that person in a hearing, should it go to court.
Mr Hoon stated that then the oversight would more than likely be withdrawn.
The Chairperson stated that if the State Law Adviser was happy that it would not prejudice anyone, then the Committee would accept it.
Mr Hoon advised the Chairperson that he was happy with the clause as it had being tried and tested.
Mr Mileham noted that Clause 36(4) referred to a minimum fine rather than a maximum fine.
The Chairperson asked the members if they were happy with this and they responded in the affirmative.
Mr Rajendh Salig referred to Clause 37(7) which was missing a comma.
Mr Mileham replied that a comma excluded everything so one must leave the comma out.
The Chairperson noted that they had asked for a redrafting.
Mr Hoon referred the Committee to page 2 of the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments (the A list) where in Clause 5, they had inserted a new paragraph.
The Chairperson asked the Committee members if they agreed to Clause 5.
Mr Salig from the Department agreed to it.
Mr Mileham stated that this did not resolve the quandary as it gave the Minister a lot of power and he felt a need to put in checks and balances.
The Chairperson responded that he must provide good cause in the ability to perform the function and that the courts were capable of stating whether it was good cause.
The Chairperson referred members to Clause 8(d)(iii) and (vi) which had been amended in the A list. He noted that Clause 8 had being amended “may, subject to the National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008 (Act No. 67 of 2008)”.
The Chairperson noted that Clause 14 was in the rules.
The Chairperson asked committee members about Clauses 16 and 18.
Mr Mileham referred the Committee to Clause 17(1)(b) and stated that the Committee had not discussed when professional companies conducting Geomatics work had a sub-contractor working for them that was not a natural person. The Bill specified that only a natural person who was a Geomatic professional may be a member and shareholders of a company. What happened in the case where the a person who was not a natural person but wished to finance and be a shareholder or head up a company that worked in the Geomatics field. He believed that the Bill prescribed who could be a member or shareholder of a company and that this was limited to only members of the Geomatics profession.
Mr Hoon referred the Committee to the word ” member” in Clause 17(1)(b) which was taken over by the original Land Surveyor Act and said they must take out the word “member”.
The Chairperson agreed to this amendment.
Mr Mileham referred to Clause 17(7)(b) in which the word “member” appeared, saying that a member cannot come up with capital. He asked if they were not being over prescriptive saying shareholders can only be natural persons, and he sought guidance.
The Chairperson asked what current practice was.
Mr Rajendh Salig from the Department noted they had to guard against someone not being a registered professional and opening up a company of registered professionals.
The Chairperson stated that they should make it easier for individuals.
Mr Hoon noted that the Surveyors Act only allowed professional people to start a company and that was current practice.
Mr Mileham accepted this fact but stated that it was not the right practice because they were not welcoming international investment.
The Chairperson noted that the current industry had not raised it and that they seemed to be happy with the status quo.
Mr Hoon noted that there was nothing problematic opening council.
The Chairperson stated that he was checking if the shareholders were forbidden.
Mr M Swathe (DA) queried if this was not prohibiting shareholders from coming into the country. He noted that the owner might not possess enough capital to finance the company.
The Chairperson noted that the Chamber of Mines had stated in public hearings that mining companies had employed professionals in the Geometric field to work for them. They needed to do more research on this subject and get further clarity by 17 June. If they found anything to the contrary, then they would verify this.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser stated that in order to set up a law firm, you must be an attorney, similarly with doctors you must be a doctor. The rationale behind this was for the regulatory board of the profession to properly monitor the profession and the regulatory authority must be able to do this.
The Chairperson asked why members were prohibited from being shareholders in the company.
Mr Siyabonga Mdubeki, Chief Director, Cadastral Spatial Information, DRDLR, stated that Council was responsible for the professionals. Mining companies undertake mining not Geomatics work, that is, Shell cannot be regulated by the Council.
The Chairperson stated that this Bill enabled the quality of the company employed by the client to be ensured.
Mr Mileham asked if Anglo American could employ someone in the field of Geomatics in-house.
Mr Mdubeki replied that this was fine.
Mr Mileham responded that all it was stopping was a third party purporting to be a Geomatic company.
The Chairperson noted that one cannot be unregulated and run a company.
Mr Swarthe stated that he understood this but with regard to shareholders how could they invest in the company and not be a shareholder.
The Chairperson stated that they needed to do more research on this topic. He noted that they could raise capital but could not convert that into equity.
The Chairperson asked if this Bill was acceptable to all members of each party and asked the Portfolio Committee members if they could adopt this Bill.
The Committee agreed to adopt it and this was seconded.
The Chairperson stated that the Bill was adopted with amendments.
Mr Swathe (DA) stated that the Democratic Alliance would reserve its vote until all of this was confirmed.
The Chairperson noted that the adoption was subject to any amendments and the Portfolio Committee accepted this.
The minutes of 22 May and 29 May were adopted with amendments.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting until the Committee met again in July.
[The Minister and Deputy Minister and Nkosi Z Mandela and Ms N November sent there apologies].
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