The Portfolio Committee considered its report on the South African Post Office SOC Ltd Amendment Bill [B24-2013]. The issue with the report was that of tagging – uncertainty over whether it should be a Section 75 or Section 76 Bill. It also involved clauses around customary marriage, so the Bill had to go through other houses. The report had to be adopted in compliance with rule 251 (3) of the National Assembly (NA). The Committee also needed to specify why certain amendments were rejected. The legal advisor suggested giving a short summary, explaining why clauses had been rejected and why certain clauses had been amended. This would help give accurate reflections. The report was adopted.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.
Committee Report on South African Post Office SOC Limited Amendment Bill
The Chairperson said that the South African Post Office SOC Limited Amendment Bill had been adopted and only the adoption of the report remained. The issue with the report was that of tagging – uncertainty over whether it should be a Section 75 or Section 76 Bill. It also involved clauses around customary marriage, so the Bill had to go through other houses, including the National House of Traditional Leaders. The first communication about the finalization of the matter had been the previous Saturday. They now had legal confirmation from senior counsel that the Bill should remain as it was – under Section 75. Only adoption of the report remained outstanding. The report would be adopted in compliance with rules and regulations in line with rule 2513 of the National Assembly (NA). He handed over to legal advisors, to deal with the matter.
Dr Barbara Loots, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said there were questions with regard to simplification of the amendment regarding whether a section was amended or rejected. She had consulted with the State Law Adviser. In the A-list, the Committee would make its individual decisions. The Committee was in charge of organising its internal processes. If the Committee so wished, it could transfer A-list recommendations into the report.
Mr Malusi Ncolo, Senior State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, said he had not been aware of the matter concerning the report until he had consulted his colleague. The A-list was evidence that something has been done in the introduced Bill. He hoped that the A-list would be part of the report.
Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma, Committee Secretary, explained how the reports were compiled. If any objections were raised by the Members at this meeting, these would be incorporated in the report. For example, the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) report recommendations that had been made two weeks ago had been incorporated as formal amendments.
Ms J Kilian (COPE) said Members should accept that there had been weaknesses with the compilation of the report, irrespective of A-list and other issues. The rules of Parliament were clear on how to report. The decision on the ECA report had been unanimous. What was important was that the Committee specified its view about any amendment it had rejected. This needed to be captured and listed in the Committee report to conform to rule 2513 of Parliament. Some of the Police Committee and Justice reports were perfect examples, as they contained clause-by-clause full deliberations and consideration of clauses that were amended and rejected. The Committee’s report had to include full deliberations that had been made in the meeting.
Ms R Morutoa (ANC) said she understood what Ms Kilian was saying. Unfortunately, she had missed the explanation made by the State Law Adviser. She asked whether the concerns raised had been captured in the report according to the Parliamentary rules. She asked what ‘unanimous’ meant at the end, because opinions differed among the Members. This was a final report and next time these issues had to be debated, because the Committee was not doing justice to the ultimate product of their work.
The Chairperson suggested that they proceed. The South African Post Office SOC Limited Amendment Bill B24-2013 reported the Bill, with amendment, which meant the A-list was part of the report and was adopted by the Committee. On the ECA, the DA members had wanted to amend section 72A of the ECA Amendment Bill and add additional point g). So the report itself talked about the Bill and the A-list, confirming what Ms Kilian had been talking about. The A-list simply needed to be attached to the report. The report highlighted the agreement that the Members had agreed upon.
Ms M Shinn (DA) said as far as she was concerned, they had not adopted the A-list because the opposition parties had not been part of compiling the amendments and discussions that had led to the A-list, due to process irregularities at the public hearings. When the Portfolio Committee had tried to discuss certain amendments, the DA members had been denied the opportunity to comment on the original Bill after the A-list had been brought to the Committee. When the ECA A-list had been amended, she had introduced an amendment after that, but the Committee as a whole had not formally adopted the A-list, as far as she was concerned.
The Chairperson clarified matters for Ms Shinn. The Committee was discussing the SAPO Bill, not the ECA Bill, and the A-list had been adopted in this case, so the report was the only thing missing. The issue addressed by Ms Kilian on the content of the report had to be finalised by the Members.
Ms Kilian said the important thing was to conform to rule 251(3) (a) and (b), which referred to the tagging. The Committee also needed to conform to rule 251(3) (c) and (d). She said rule 251(3) (d) required specifying every amendment and this was in the A-list. They also needed to specify in the Bill why certain amendments had been rejected. Now was not an opportune time to deal with the other clauses. They had agreed on very small amendments, and others had been rejected for good reasons. Members should see that the Portfolio Committee had done justice to their work to show that they had really considered everything.
Ms Morutoa appealed to Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) to explain more clearly what Ms Shinn was trying to say. If the report was read out, some of the sections did capture Ms Kilian’s concerns. The correct way was to take into consideration people who were consolidating the report. She asked the Chairperson to read out the report.
The Chairperson said all that Ms Kilian had said was that on the A-list, what was required was an explanation of why each clause had been rejected. That way the report would be in full compliance. So the report would still remain as it was. He asked the legal advisers if this would change the final report.
Ms Loots said that with the permission of the Members, the legal advisors could give a short summary explaining why clauses had been rejected, and why certain clauses had been amended. This would help give accurate reflections. The Members could have standard committee phrasing. She asked the Chairperson to read out what would be added at the bottom. The report would be published with these amendments.
The Chairperson read the introduction of the South African Post office SOC Limited Amendment Bill B24B-2013. He said the new Bill with amendments became B24A-2013. He read clauses 1-4.
Clause 5 had been rejected because the Committee was of the opinion that there had not been sufficient consideration of the impact upon affected stakeholders. Further consideration was required.
The Long Title was omitted and the new Long Title was substituted and would be contained in the Bill. He hoped that this would be in line with rule 251 (3).
Ms Kilian said this was the right approach, as it would go a long way to establish the right practices. It should be adopted.
Ms Morutoa seconded the adoption.
Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) appointment
The Chairperson said that concluded the matter. On the MDDA appointment, the Committee had recommended a candidate. Last week, Ms Shinn had raised the point that the candidate had been suspended at work for quite a long time. The Committee had tried to investigate what exactly had happened and the document on the findings had been forwarded to the Chairperson last night. The document had outlined the suspension, without explicit acts or omissions, and had later been withdrawn without any charges, just because the case had exceeded three months. The bargaining council for local government felt a person should be charged, and the municipality had formally withdrawn the suspension because three months had elapsed. He thought he should raise this, so that all the Members understood the situation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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