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CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
CONSIDERATION OF SUBMISSIONS BY SUB-COMMITTEE
Chairperson: Mr S P Holomisa (ANC); Mr M J Bhengu
Summary of submissions to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee
This sub-committee was tasked with considering the annual submissions from the public. Most of the meeting was spent discussing what to do with the submissions as many were not within the ambit of the Constitution. It was noted that there had been little headway made with the literacy campaign.
Constitution Literacy Campaign
The chairperson told the committee that very little progress has been made on the Constitution Literacy Campaign. He had sent letters to the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development and Education and has received no response so far. He also sent out letters to other organisations and reported that even the Human Rights Commission had not commented. The chairperson asked the committee what should be done about this situation.
Ms Camerer (NNP) felt that there is not much one can do when the leading departments do not react. The campaign is dependent on them.
Ms Smuts (DP) commented that it is not the right time for a huge campaign. She added that the Human Rights Commission has a new chairperson and should be contacted again as it is their statutory duty to popularise the Bill of Rights.
It was decided to send letters again to the main departments urging them to take this matter seriously. It was also decided that a full-scale reprint should wait until the Constitution has been amended.
Consideration of submissions
Mr Smith (IFP) wanted to know what happens after the committee had considered the submissions.
The chairperson said that he did not know.
Ms Camerer said that it is an annual event for the pro-gun and anti-gun groups to send their submissions to this committee. She felt that someone should go back to them and spell out to them the provisions and constitutional judgements that have bearing on what they do. She felt that this committee should respond to these submissions, regardless of how "ridiculous" they may seem, to prevent disillusionment of the public. She wondered whether the committee should not have a form response for these groups.
The chairperson added that this committee is required to make a report to be considered by parliament. This session of parliament is open to the public and he did not see it necessary to respond to every single submission.
Ms Smuts agreed that many of these submissions do not apply to the Constitutional Review Committee. She felt that they might send out a standard reply stating: "Thank you for your submission. In the view of the sub-committee these matters are not constitutionalâ€¦" She proposed reviewing the idea of annual submissions. She added that an image of constant constitutional changes should also not spread around.
The chairperson agreed that the process needed looking at.
Mr Smith then proposed looking at the essence of each of the submission categories (as outlined Summary of Submissions) to see whether it was a constitutional issue or not and then decide what to do with it.
The committee then proceeded in this fashion although consensus could not be reached on whether certain categories were within the ambit of the Constitution. It was decided to meet again before taking a proposal to the full Constitutional Review Committee.
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