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SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
25 February 2003
LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMMES FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, HOME AFFAIRS HEALTH DEPARTMENTS: BRIEFING
Chair: Ms L Jacobus (ANC)
National Department of Health Legislative Schedule 2003
Department of Social Department Legislative Schedule 2003 (Appendix 1)
Department of Home Affairs Legislative Schedule 2003 (Appendix 2)
Business Day article (18 Feb 2003): Court rejects immigration regulations
Letter to the Business Day by Home Affairs Minister (25 Feb 2003): Reports wrong
The Committee was briefed on the 2003 Legislative Schedules of the Departments:
Social Development Department: National Development Agency Amendment Bill; Relief Funds Bill; Older Persons Bill; Social Assistance Bill; South African Social Security Agency Bill; Children's Bill.
Home Affairs Department: Identification Amendment Bill, Films and Publications Amendment Bill, Marriage Amendment Bill, Electoral Systems Bill, Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill
Health Department: Nursing Bill, Health Professions Amendment Bill, Dental Technicians Amendment Bill, Pharmacy Amendment Bill, Traditional Healers Bill, Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill,
Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill, Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Bill, Red Cross Bill, Sterilisation Amendment Bill, Foodstuffs,Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Act, National Health Bill, South African Medical Research Council Amendment Bill
Department of Health
Adv Debbie Pearmain (Chief Director: Legal Unit) presented the Department's Legislative Programme (See Powerpoint presentation).
Department of Social Development
Mr Pierre Du Preez (Senior Legal Advisor) went through the Department's Legislative Programme (see Appendix 1).
Department of Home Affairs
Mr K Sam Mogotsi (Acting Chief Director: Legal Services) went through the Department's Legislative Programme (see Appendix 2). The Marriage Act amendments effect cosmetic changes that do away with obsolete terminology, makes it gender sensitive and brings this 1961 Act in line with the current political dispensation.
Mr Mogotsi highlighted the urgency of passing the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill which deals with legally recognising change of gender when an individual has undergone a sex change.
He also referred to the "J and B" case in the Durban High Court where the parents of a child are of the same gender. He noted that this dealt with child registration forms that did not accommodate cases where children had parents of the same gender. This case has been sent to the Constitutional Court after the High Court found the matter to be unconstitutional.
The Chair referred to a newspaper article about the Regulations to the Immigration Act having been thrown out by the courts. One of the issues had been that it had not been submitted to public scrutiny and she noted that the Social Services Select Committee had not seen sight of the Regulations.
No further comments were made or questions raised about the legislative programmes.
Workshop & Eastern Cape Visit: planning
The committee discussed the arrangements for its forthcoming workshop and Eastern Cape Visit.
BRIEFING TO SELECT COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL SERVICES ON THE LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT FOR 2003 - 25 FEBRUARY 2003
The Department of Social Development envisages to have the following Bills tabled and/or finalised in Parliament during 2003:
- National Development Agency Amendment Bill - Section 75 Bill;
- Relief Funds Bill - Section 75 Bill
- Older Persons Bill - Section 76 Bill
- Social Assistance Bill - Section 76 Bill
- South African Social Security Agency Bill - Section 75 Bill; and
- Children's Bill - Section 76 Bill.
National Development Agency Amendment Bill
The NDA was transferred from the Minister of Finance to the Minister of Social Development by Presidential Proclamation on 19 October 2001. The rationale for the transfer was the close link between the work of the NDA and the Department of Social Development in poverty alleviation.
The aim of this Bill is to give effect to the said transfer by amending the Act, by -
- amending the definition of "Minister" in order to provide that the NDA is administered by the Minister of Social Development;
- changing the composition of the Board of the NDA by reducing the members of the Board from 15 to 11 of which six members should represent civil society and five members should represent Government;
- providing that the Minister appoints the chairperson from among the civil society members and the deputy chairperson from among the civil society and the Government members.
- providing that the Minister and not the Board appoints the Chief Executive Officer of the NDA; and
- providing for consequential amendments.
The NDA Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament on 15 November 2002 and approved by the National Assembly on 27 February 2003. The Bill has now been referred to the NCOP.
Relief Funds Bill
This Bill intends to consolidate the various relief funds, namely the Disaster Relief Fund, the SA Defence Force Fund, the Refugee Relief Fund, the State President Fund and the Social Relief Fund into one new Social Relief Fund. The rationale for the new Bill is strictly financial, namely to curtail the cost of providing administrative services to all the relief funds.
Although a Bill was drafted and discussed with the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, the Bill cannot be finalized due to the possible transfer of the Disaster Relief Fund to the Department of Provincial and Local Government and the Refugee Relief Fund to the Department of Home Affairs. Discussions in that regard are continuing and should hopefully be finalized soon after which the Bill could also be finalized. However, it is envisaged to submit the Bill to Cabinet during May 2003.
Older Persons Bill
This Bill which intends to replace the Aged Persons Act, 1967 represents a new developmental approach to ageing and will maintain and promote the status of older persons, the rights of older persons as recipients of services and the well-being, safety and security of older persons. The Bill also provides for the establishment and appointment of an Ombudsperson for Older Persons and nine provincial Ombudspersons.
The draft Bill has been discussed with stakeholders and relevant parties and a second draft will be prepared soon. It is envisaged to submit the Bill to Cabinet during June 2003.
Social Assistance Bill
This Bill intends to replace the Social Assistance Act, 1992 and envisages to provide for the rendering of social assistance and social relief of distress to persons. The provisions of this Bill will be in line with the Minister of Social Development's 10-point plan to provide for the development of a comprehensive social security system.
It is envisaged that the Social Assistance Bill will be submitted to Cabinet during April 2003.
South African Social Security Agency Bill
The principal aim of this Bill is to make provision for the effective management and control of the delivery of social benefit administration and payment services through the establishment of the SA Social Security Agency. This Bill relates to the Minister's 10-point plan of an integrated and comprehensive social security system. It is envisaged that the Bill will be submitted to Cabinet during April 2003.
The Children's Bill was drafted by the SA Law Commission and is currently being studied by an Inter-Departmental Steering Committee. The Bill is aligned with Government's "First Call for Children" and "Put Children First" policies.
The new Children's Bill constitutes a comprehensive rewrite of the Child Care Act, 1983 and, amongst others, is aimed at addressing South Africa's international law and constitutional obligations towards children.
An Inter-Departmental Workshop is scheduled for 17 - 19 March 2003 after which the amendments proposed by the Departments of Social Development, Health, Education, Justice, Safety and Security and Finance will be processed. The draft Bill will then be published for general comment. It is envisaged to submit the Bill to Cabinet during May 2003.
With the exception of the NDA Amendment Bill, all the Bills still have to be approved by the Heads of Social Development, MINMEC and Cabinet, be published for general comment and be certified by the State Law Advisers. Only then can the Bills be tabled in Parliament.
LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME FOR 2003: DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS
The Department intends submitting the following Bills by April 2003:
1. Identification Amendment Bill
The Bill introduces the issue of electronic data capturing and verification, in view of the new Home Affairs National Identification system. The Bill is extremely urgent as the initial phase of HANIS is already being implemented. Furthermore it will enhance the effectiveness of identification of citizens, which is one of the main functions of this Department.
It is envisaged that this Bill will be presented to Cabinet in February 2003.
2. Films and Publications Amendment Bill
This Bill aims to address the regulation of child pornography on the Internet as well as providing for prosecution of guilty parties in this regard. This Bill is extremely urgent as the Department has in terms of the Films and Publications Act, an objective of regulating these. The increased incidence of child pornography on the Internet demands this amendment urgently.
It is envisaged that this Bill will be presented to Cabinet in April 2003.
3. Marriage Amendment Bill
The Bill aims to repeal the Marriage Act 25 of 1961, whose provisions are mostly obsolete. The Bill is urgent as the Department needs to urgently put measures to control the problem of fraudulent marriages and marriages of convenience (so-called scam marriages).
It is envisaged that this Bill will be presented to Cabinet in April 2003.
4. Electoral Systems Bill
A Bill will has to be drafted in order to regulate the general elections, as presently there is no law in this regard. The next general elections are due in 2004 and therefore an Electoral Act must be passed well before the elections. This makes the Bill urgent. The Department has as one of its objectives to ensure that the legislative framework to run the elections, is in place.
It is envisaged that this Bill will be presented to Cabinet in June 2003.
5. Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill
The Bill aims to provide legal mechanism in terms of which any person who has undergone a sex change operation could apply to the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs for the alteration of his or her sex description in the National Population Register. Sex change is a reality, which should be accorded legal recognition. This has been supported by the Law Commission's recommendations.
It is envisaged that this Bill will be presented to Cabinet in April 2003.
MARRIAGE AMENDMENT BILL
SUMMARY OF AMENDMENTS
The proposed amendments to the current Marriage Act came about as a result of an investigation and research conducted by the South African Law Commission.
Most of the amendments may be regarded as cosmetic in the sense that certain obsolete words are to be repealed in accordance with our current political dispensation. These are words like Commissioner, solemnization, Union of South Africa, province of the Union and reference to different population groups.
The Amendment Bill also seeks to provide for the appointment of South African diplomats abroad as ex officio marriage officers for purposes of conducting marriages in foreign missions.
The Bill also deals with situations where there is a change in the name of a religious denomination where a marriage officer was appointed under the previous name and further provides for situations where there is an amalgamation of various religious denominations.
The Bill further provides for new mechanism for lodging objections to marriages by providing that same should be made in writing to the marriage officer at least 24 hours before the actual marriage is conducted.
A standard marriage formula is also envisaged so as to have uniformity in the conduct of marriages.
In line with the constitutional provisions, the minimum age of entering into a marriage is set at 18 years for both males and females thus doing away with the gender stereotypes of the past.
In an effort to curb corruption, the requirements of identification are sort to be amended by requiring positive identification and/or an affidavit attested to in the presence of an official of the Department of Home Affairs.
FILMS AND PUBLICATIONS AMENDMENT BILL
With the escalating rate of child pornography and related cyber crimes and almost low conviction rate in the prosecution of these sort of crimes, it became important to revisit the provisions of the Films and Publications Act with a view of addressing some of these concerns.
The Amendment Bill seeks to prohibit child pornography through the use of internet and places a duty upon internet service providers to take necessary steps to prevent access to pornographic material by children.
It further deletes certain provisions, which made prosecution difficult and further introduces wider definitions of certain words and phrases so as to be more effective.
The Amendment Bill also deletes the provision requiring a warrant of search to be signed by the Attorney-General before a particular building can be searched.
It further provides that the creation, production, possession and distribution of child pornography be punishable as an offence.
In conclusion, the Bill also grants more powers to the Films and Publication Board to make regulations so as to effectively police child pornography and related crimes.
IDENTIFICATION AMENDMENT BILL
The proposed amendment to the Identification Act came as a result of the envisaged introduction of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS).
The Bill seeks to make provision for fingerprint verification process whereby other national departments and various commercial institutions like banks and building societies will make use of the Department's information as stored in the central server instrument which will then be communicated electronically to any requesting client department or institution.
It is envisaged that the fingerprint verification process will help the Departments of Social Services, Labour and Housing to reduce fraud in providing services to their clients.
ALTERATION OF SEX DESCRIPTION AND SEX STATUS BILL
The proposed introduction of this Bill follows the recommendations of the South African Law Commission presented to government during 1995.
The Bill seeks to make provision for any person who has undergone a sex change operation by either surgery or medical treatment to apply to the Director-General of Home Affairs for the alteration of his or her sex description in the National Population Register.
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