Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill [B50-2013]: adoption, in presence of Minister

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

26 February 2014
Chairperson: Ms D Ramodibe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to formally adopt the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, and the draft Committee Report on the Bill. It was noted that the clause 7(2) which had caused the most dissension had been removed. The Bill was adopted by the majority of Members, the DA and IFP having indicated at an earlier meeting that they would not be voting on the Bill at this stage but would speak to it in the House.

A DA Member raised her concern that such a short Report was being presented, but it was explained that this was merely a summary, did not go into every clause, and that Members would be free, in the House, during the debates, to raise their particular concerns. One DA Member said that she wanted a minority report included, but the draft Report was adopted in its current form.

Members adopted the minutes of 14 February. A Member noted that critical documents requested from the Department and Minister must still be supplied. This led on also to a discussion on the Fluxman Report, with Members expressing their concern that no specific meeting had been set aside, as requested, for deliberations on that report which outlined some very serious matters and challenges in the Department. The Chairperson noted that a letter had been written on 2 February to the Minister. The Department should have, but had not, responded by 26 February. The matter was on the agenda for next week.

Meeting report

Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill & Draft Committee Report: Consideration and Adoption
Ms Ayanda Boss, Committee Secretary, Portfolio Committee on Women, Children and People with disabilities, read out the draft Committee Report (the Report) on the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill (the Bill).

The Chairperson said this was a summary of what had taken place.

Ms H Lamoela (DA) asked why the draft report had only been received now. She did not understand how only a ‘one page’ report on this Bill would be presented to the National Assembly as she felt that far more detail was required.

Mr Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, replied that the Report did not set out each individual amendment and each clause, as that was for the Amendment Bill. The Members, in the House, could outline, during the debate, what had happened and what their views were in respect of each of the clauses.

Ms Lamoela said she wanted it to be noted that the DA did not agree with everything in the Bill. The Report outlined the agreements, but she pointed out that there had not been agreement on everything. .

Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) said that when there was disagreement, then it was discussed and then a resolution was reached, and that resolution could be reflected as an agreement. She had understood that, after discussion, the Bill had in fact been passed.

Ms C Diemu (COPE) said she felt that there had been ‘dilly dallying’ and the Committee was going round in circles. She said that Ms Lamoela should state she did not agree, but not attempt to hold the whole process back.

Ms G Tseke (ANC) agreed with the previous speakers. The legal advisers had told the Committee the appropriate time and forum where disagreements could be raised. She therefore proposed that the Report could be adopted.

Mr Rhoda replied that disagreements from political parties could be noted as a minority report to be sent to the House.

The Chairperson said that it was clear the Bill would be going as it was, and there would be no further delays. Dissension would be noted in the Report.

Adoption of Bill
Members proceeded to vote on the Bill formally.

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) said that she was not voting today because she had not been able to present the bill to her caucus, not because she did not support the Bill. She could not vote without seeking the guidance of her caucus, but would indicate support during the House debates.

Ms Lamoela wanted it noted that the DA was not supporting the Bill. Throughout the process the DA had been raising its concerns, and a third legal opinion was never given. She noted that she wanted to submit a minority report also.

The DA and IFP Members abstained from voting, but the remainder of Members adopted the Bill.

Adoption of Committee Report
Ms Lamoela said that the DA had requested that the DA be allowed to submit a minority Report.

The Chairperson asked what exactly was a minority report.

The Minister stated that the main concern that had been raised by the DA had been the issue of political parties in clause 7, and her understanding was that now the clause in contention had been withdrawn.  She thus thought that the concerns of the DA had been addressed. She wanted to place officially on the record, that clause 7(2) had been withdrawn by agreement and she was not aware of other concerns, although she would be happy to consider them if they were raised.

Adoption of Minutes 14 February
Ms Lamoela asked, for the minutes of 14 February, if the Department had provided a breakdown of the Bill's costing.

Ms Diemu said that a break down had been given.

Ms Tseke said that during the second public meeting in the Old Assembly venue a breakdown had been given.

Ms van der Merwe also agreed that this had been done. It was stated that the budget had stood at R151 million but this, at the time, was being revised.

Ms Lamoela said that minutes of the workshops and other critical documents, including the RIA report requested from the Department and Minister, had not been supplied. Thus the level of consultation was still questionable. She requested that these documents again be requested and a time line be put for their provision.

The Chairperson said that the number of workshops had been provided, but that the other information needed to be followed up. She said that this would be mentioned in the Legacy Report.
The minutes were adopted.

Consideration of draft Legacy Report
The Chairperson said that this was a report that had been compiled by the legal section on the work that this Committee had done in the Fourth Parliament. She understood that it was a report of great volume but urged members to go through it and identify gaps, in preparation for the adoption.

Ms Lamoela stated that it was of concern that the Fluxman Report had still not been tackled properly by this Committee, and she pointed out that this had serious implications for the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (the Department). There had been attempts to engage the Department on it, without success. Had it not been for Ms van der Merwe raising the matter, the Committee may not have been aware at all that this forensic study had been undertaken.

Ms More said there had never been a specific meeting set aside to discuss it, despite request and although some questions had been answered this was not done through an appropriate process.

Ms Diemu asked if the report could be handled in the next round of meetings.  

The Chairperson said that a letter had been written on 2 February to the Minister. The Department should have, but did not, respond by 26 February. The matter was on the agenda for next week.

The meeting was adjourned.


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