The Committee considered and finalised the Agrement South Africa Bill. Members were taken through the Bill clause by clause. No objections were raised on any of the clauses or on the Bill as a whole. The Bill was adopted without amendment.
Members sought clarity over the use of the term “person” throughout the Bill. The issue was whether it covered both a natural person and a juristic person. Members also asked how the continuity of Agrement South Africa’s Board was to be dealt with. Members were concerned how the certification of a product that was suitable for use in one province and not suitable for use in another province due to different environmental conditions would be done. A similar concern applied to products that were imported from abroad and suitable for use in its country of origin but not so for use in SA.
The Department of Public Works was represented by Mr Devan Pillay Chief Director: Construction Policy; Mr Amukelani Maluleke Deputy Director: Construction Policy; and Mr Welcome Mokoena, Deputy Director. Mr Alan Small, Senior Law Adviser, and Ms Aadielah Arnold, Legal Researcher for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development represented the State Law Advisers Office. Adv Frank Jenkins represented the Parliamentary Legal Advisers Office.
Agrement South Africa Bill [B3B – 2015]
The Acting Chairperson placed the Bill before the Committee for deliberation and finalisation. The Committee considered the Bill clause by clause. Members were encouraged to make comment or effect changes to a clause if they so wished.
As the process unfolded there seemed to be no objection or amendments proposed to the clauses as contained in the Bill.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) asked about the use of the term “person” in the Bill. Did it cover different types of “persons”? What was the definition of “person”?
Mr Pillay explained that the term “person” covered both a natural person and a juristic person.
Mr Faber felt that a definition of a “person” should be included in the Bill.
Mr Mokoena responded that the Interpretation Act did contain a definition of a “person”. The use of “person” in legislation was legal speak. As a court would understand that “person” covered different types of persons as defined in the Interpretation Act there was no need to include a definition of “person” in the Bill.
Mr Jenkins concurred with the responses given. The Interpretation Act covered the definition of a “person”. The use of “person” was broadly covered. He recommended that the definition as outlined in the Interpretation Act be accepted.
Mr Faber was satisfied with the responses and explanations given.
The Acting Chairperson asked how the continuity of members of the Agrement South Africa Board was dealt with.
Mr Pillay explained that there was a selection committee in place when a vacancy needed to be filled. He emphasised that in order to allow for continuity provision was made for at least 30% of the Board to remain.
The Acting Chairperson felt that Clauses 17(5) and 19(5) was important. Clause 17 covered meetings of the Agrement South Africa Board. Clause 17(5) stated, “Subject to the approval of the chairperson, a person who is not a member of the Board may attend or take part, but may not vote, in a meeting of the Board.” Clause 19 spoke to committees formed by the Board. Clause 19(5) stated, “The Board must delegate a member of that committee to act as a chairperson.”
He noted that that the Bill was a Section 75 Bill and had no implications for the provinces.
Mr Small explained that the State Law Advisers Office and the Parliamentary Legal Advisers Office engaged in a joint tagging exercise on bills. They after having looked at the bills jointly decided on whether a bill should be tagged a Section 75 or Section 76 bill. In the Bill before the Committee it was decided that it should be a Section 75 Bill as there were no implications for the provinces.
Mr Jenkins, responding to the tagging exercise, said that the process had come a long way. National parliament had national plenary power. In looking at the tagging of a bill one had to consider the purpose of the legislation. This would decide on whether the bill should be a Section 75 or Section 76 bill.
Mr Faber appreciated the joint tagging exercise on whether a bill should be tagged a Section 75 or Section 76 bill. Coming back to Agrement South Africa and the work it did, he asked what happened when there was a product that needed certification but the problem was that the product was only suitable for use in a certain province. For argument’s sake what about product made of wood that was suitable for use perhaps in the Western Cape but would not be able to withstand the harsh heat and sun of Mpumalanga.
Mr Pillay responded that the product would be tested throughout SA. If the product could not work everywhere in SA then it could not be certified. The certification of products was not based on provincial regulations. The criteria for testing were based on the claims made on what the product could do.
The Acting Chairperson said that a question had been asked at another time in another forum as to whether a product that had been certified in another country would still need to be certified in SA. The response that had been given at the time was a firm yes.
Mr Faber said that for instance a roof tile could work well in Europe but would perhaps not be able to take the harsh heat of the Northern Cape. It could be a problem.
The Acting Chairperson noted that if a plastic pipe was certified for use in agriculture a municipality could not use the pipe to provide water to a township. There would not be blanket certifications. There would be qualifications.
Mr Pillay explained that certification was given for fit for purpose. Fit for purpose was already defined. The manufacturer would state what the product was to be used for. It depended on what the manufacturer of the product claimed it could do. Products certified should be for all weather conditions and temperatures. If a product could not be used then an alternative must be found.
The Acting Chairperson pointed out that on certification there would not be different standards for different provinces. There would be one standard for the whole of SA. It did not matter whether a product was manufactured in the Western Cape or Mpumalanga, certification would be standardised.
The Committee did not have a problem with the Bill being a Section 75 bill. He read out the motion of desirability on the Bill.
The Committee agreed to the Agrement South Africa Bill B3B – 2015. The Bill was adopted without amendment.
Minutes dated the 23 June 2015 and 28 July 2015 were adopted without amendment.
The Acting Chairperson provided the Committee with a breakdown of its oversight visit programme for its upcoming trip to the Pilanesberg area.
The meeting was adjourned.