Disaster Management Bill: Negotiating Mandates; Local Government Laws Amendment Bill;

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Meeting report

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT SELECT COMMITTEE
November 4 2002
DISASTER MANAGEMENT BILL: NEGOTIATING MANDATES; LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAWS AMENDMENT BILL;


Documents handed out:
Disaster Management Bill [B21B-2002]
Negotiating Mandates on Disaster Management Bill (e-mail
info@pmg.org.za for documents)
Local Government Laws Amendments Bill [B61B-2002]

SUMMARY

The Committee finalised debate on the negotiating mandates on the Disaster Management Bill and adjourned the meeting for members to receive final mandates from the provinces.

The Committee debated the Local Government Laws Amendment Bill but deferred voting thereon to November 6 2002.

MINUTES
The Chair informed members that there were two items on the agenda for deliberation. He explained that the Committee would discuss the outstanding negotiating mandate on the Disaster Management Bill from the Gauteng and at the same time get clarification from the Department on matters raised in the various mandates.

Disaster Management Bill [B21B-2002]
The Chair informed members that Gauteng had mixed up issues in their negotiating mandate but that, however, all their concerns had been fully addressed. The Chair then asked the Department to clarify the inclusion of the terms 'may' and 'must' at various places in the Bill.

Mr. Kgoshi (ANC) noted that the Committee was forced to defer deliberations on the Bill on 1 November 2002 to non-attendance on the part of the Department. He contended that it would be important that the Committee gets an explanation as to why the Department failed to send a representative to guide it through this crucial stage.

Mr. Kilian - from the Department - tendered an apology to the Committee for failing to attend the meeting on 1 November 2002 noting that he was forced to leave early so as to attend another meeting that had been scheduled in Pretoria. He pointed out that his absence did not in any way imply that the Department treated the Committee with contempt but that he had sought to be excused from attendance by the Chair.

The Chair protested that there must have been a communication breakdown at some point since he had requested Mr. Kilian to send somebody else if he could not attend the meeting personally. He noted that the absence of the Department during deliberations on the Bill has never happened before and hoped that it does not happen again. In any event the Chair indicated that the Committee would convey its displeasure to the Minister at the appropriate time.

Dr. Bower - legal adviser - pointed out that he had examined all the negotiating mandates and had identified two key issues that called for clarification. He explained that when the Portfolio Committee processed the Bill the aim was to achieve consistency at the National - Provincial and Local Government Level. It later conspired that this objective could not be achieved at certain levels due to the different tiers of Government whose integrity must be respected. He explained that the National Government could not for instance prescribe rules for Local Government and hence cases would arise where the term 'may' would be appropriately applied whilst the term 'must' suits other situations.

Dr. Bower explained that, on the issue of placing disaster centres under the office of the Premier, it was not necessary to write this item in the Bill since the present wording allowed the premier to determine where the disaster centres should be located.

Mr. Maloyi (ANC) asked the Department to comment on 43(b) on page 44

Dr. Bower explained that the drafting of the Bill took cognisance of the district and regional-wide functions whose capacities differed significantly and so specific geographical competencies of a region had to be taken into account so as to avoid contradiction.

Mr. Kilian commented that the idea was to give metro and district municipalities the competence to create disaster management centres that would be available to serve the entire country. He added that there was a need to consult all municipalities in order to deploy the strongest possible resources in case of a disaster.

Mr. Maloyi insisted that the term 'one of' for purposes of clarity should replace 'any' in the Bill.

Dr. Bower explained that the terminology conveyed the same meaning namely that consultations could be undertaken with any of the municipalities.

The Chair informed members that since this was a section 76 Bill, the Provinces would be expected to give the final mandate before it was finalised.

Mr. Kgoshi wondered why the Bill could not be finalised since delegates had indicated that they had the final mandates.

The Chair insisted that the right procedure must be followed. He reiterated that delegates should go back and seek final mandates especially in view of the proposals by other provinces. The Chair then ruled that the Committee would meet on 8 November 2002 to receive the final mandates on the Bill.

Local Government Laws Amendment Bill [B61B-2002]
The Chair suggested that the Committee went through the Bill clause by clause.

Mr. Maloyi (ANC) asked if members had been briefed on the Bill since he had no recollection of such a briefing.

The Chair pointed out that the Committee was fully briefed on the Bill on 1 November 2002.

Mr. Maloyi asked why section 12A was inserted in the Bill noting that everybody should pay the service charge and that Councillors should not be treated differently.

Ms Kgoali (ANC) concurred with Mr. Maloyi that if this section is retained in the Bill it would sent the wrong message to the general populace that Councillors are being exempted which could create a rift between the people and the political establishment.

Dr. Bower explained that the three month grace period is not s special treatment extended to Councillors since it was the standard time within which people in business and even Council stuff are allowed to settle outstanding bills before recovery measures kick-in.

Mr Kgoshi insisted that Councillors were not ordinary servants and that they were essentially the face of government and by that description they must lead by example not to accumulate rates and charges. She pointed out that in the Gauteng Province councillors who accumulated service charges and rates were not voted into office.

The Chair pointed out that these measures were not new and that he did not see why there was such intense controversy around the issue.

Dr. Bower explained that the section addressed a situation where Councillors were discriminated against in that other people were allowed the three months grace period whilst they were not.

Mr. Maloyi suggested that the issue be flagged to allow members time to reflect on it further and to see if alliances shift.

Mr. Khotang - legal advisor - pointed out that the insertion in question constitutes a balancing act which acknowledges the fact that Councillors must lead by example and that it also catered for situations where disputes may arise on the amount of the rates in arrears. He clarified that the section does not give Councillors undue scope.

Mr. Kgoshi concurred with Mr. Maloyi that the issue should be revisited in the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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