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CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
29 October 2002
CONSIDERATION OF SUBMISSIONS BY SUB-COMMITTEE
Summary of submissions to the Joint Constitutional Review Committee
Letter from Department of Justice on Constitutional Literacy Campaign
Public Education & Communication Respect Project: Donor Proposal Presentation
The Committee considered the various proposed amendments to the Constitution received from NGO's and individuals.
The Committee proceeded with the remaining submissions on the amendments to the Constitution which had been proposed throughout the year.
Mr J Jeffrey (ANC) said that a White Paper was currently being dealt with by the Department of Local and Provincial Government. The Traditional Authorities decided to address this Committee because, they contended, this process was not moving fast enough. With regard to the claim of the Khoisan, why were they not treated similarly to the Traditional Leaders?
Ms M Smuts (DP) said that Section 211 of the Constitution had an implicit definition of a 'traditional leader' and includes a reference to 'customary law'. As far as the DP was concerned there was a problem with awarding voting rights to unelected chiefs, but they should be involved in the third sphere of government. However, the DP has no problem with this proposal being presented to the full committee.
The Chair expressed his disappointment at the fact that Northern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng provinces were deprived of their own House of Traditional Leaders. However, where Provincial Houses existed, the presence of those leaders were lawfully mandated. As the Khoisan had no legally appointed leaders, it would be difficult to see how they could be accommodated. However, as a process is underway, this Committee should not pre-empt it.
Mr Jeffrey suggested that the Committee be given a briefing by the Department of Provincial and Local Government on the White Paper.
This suggestion was approved.
Ms Smuts stated that the claims by the Sepulana Language Development Committee that Sepulana is a national language and should be officially recognised could not be judged by the Committee. The head of the Pan South African Language Board (PSALB) should be asked to comment on this, but the matter should not proceed for consultation.
The Committee noted that PSALB have an executive Committee, and thus decided to officially approach this in order to arrive at a few options.
The Committee agreed that this matter should not have come to this Committee as the complaint related to 'unconstitutional legislation', and not to a request to amend the Constitution.
The Committee rejected this complaint was as it should have been addressed by the Education Department.
Members disagreed as to whether this in fact constituted a Constitutional matter. However, the Committee concluded that, as the matter had been fully debated under the previous Chair who had been an expert on the subject, the matter would not be entertained further.
Abolition of Income Tax and Usury
The Committee noted that this is a 'utopian' ideal yet the proposer had failed to gain electoral support at the national elections for the idea. It was thus inappropriate to consider the request for a constitutional amendment.
Mr Jeffrey stated that the ANC would not support this submission as South Africa is a secular country. Furthermore, the ANC is trying to ensure firearm control, not an extension of its use.
Revision of the Constitution
Members were confused by what they termed a 'bizarre' proposal.
Mr Jeffrey stated that he saw some merit in the proposal that those political parties which did not 'win' the election, as opposed to not gaining votes, be required to disband until the next election.
Laws to be Subjected to Constitutional Court Scrutiny
Ms Smuts stated that this proposal offended against the doctrine of the separation of powers.
Free Access to the Constitutional Court
Ms Smuts contended that, to her mind, this provision was covered as the plan had been to model it on the Indian experience, where an aggrieved citizen could write a letter to the court alleging a violation of their rights.
Interaction of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee with the Public
The Committee agreed that they were doing precisely what was being asked for.
The Chair was mandated by Members to compile a report on the Committee's decisions and to circulate it to the members.
Ms Smuts made it clear that she objected to the Chair accepting any offer of help from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in compiling the report.
There were no further questions or comments and the meeting was adjourned.
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