Natural Scientific Professions Bill: informal discussion

Arts and Culture

22 October 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

22 OCTOBER 2002

Acting Chairperson:

Mr S L Dithebe (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Natural Scientific Professions Bill [B56-2002]

The Portfolio Committee discussed whether to hold public hearings on this Bill. It was decided that despite the department's consultation of stakeholders, it was important that Parliament hold hearings on the Bill as the area of science professionals and transformation was important.

The acting chairperson pointed out that towards the end of the previous meeting, a member had suggested that public hearings be held on the Bill but that no decision had been able to be reached. This particular meeting was called to discuss the way forward and he invited all parties present to make their view known.

Ms S Mctubatse (ANC) stated that the Bill was not about technical issues, but rather about transformation. She reminded members that this Bill was to replace the present one and not to amend it. She pointed out that the work of the Department and that of Parliament was two different processes and even though the Department had consulted with a number of bodies, her party felt that the parliamentary process should be followed and therefore supported the call for public hearings.

Mr B Bell (DP) agreed with the ANC and felt that the full process should go wider. He explained that he had noted that the South African Metallurgy Society and the South African Mining Society had not been consulted by the Department and therefore felt that more role players should be brought into the process.

Mr F Cassim (IFP) said it was his opinion that a full scale public hearing should be held only for controversial bills. This Bill was not of that nature and depended on voluntary councils as role players which had the knowledge. Even though certain fields had not been approached, such as astronomy and medical science, adequate information could be obtained from them He felt that no new information would be obtained from public hearings.

Ms A van Wyk (NNP) thanked the ANC for it decision and agreed that the full parliamentary process be followed and that the Committee should not be guided by the Department. She reiterated that the Bill was of enormous importance and impinged on a wide field. If transformation was to happen then the fostering of new skills was important and that this Bill would help in doing this. She added that scientific professionals were very sensitive and would leave the country if they felt that their needs were not being met here. It was also important for the public to be made aware of science and it was also an opportunity for the Committee to gain exposure.

Ms M A Seeco (UCDP) agreed that public hearings should take place and that justice should be done by that process.

The Chairperson decided that it was the general feeling of the Committee to have public hearings. He noted that it was important that in the process they try to target the right audience. He felt that it would also raise the profile of science. He then asked members whether there were any other issues in the Bill which they would like to discuss.

No further issues were raised, at which point Mr Cassim brought to the Committee's attention that he had received an invitation from the Association for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the USA to be part of their program. He stated that South Africa would be one of four countries in this program and he would like the Minister to respond to this. He reiterated that the Committee should not neglect this invitation. He also noted that the MTN Science Centre at Century City had invited the Committee to visit the centre and have a look at its exhibits.

Ms Mctubatse thanked Mr Cassim for all he was doing in making the committee work exciting and felt that they should visit the MTN Science Centre as soon as possible before Parliament rises on 15 November.

The Chairperson also reminded members that the Cape Technikon had invited the Committee to visit it and that the tentative date for this visit was the 30 October 2002. He requested the secretary of the Committee to arrange a date for a visit to the MTN Science Centre.

At this point the Chairperson closed the meeting.



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