Meeting with Indonesian delegation; Legal Opinions on 2015 public submissions; Committee Report on 2013 public submissions

Constitutional Review Committee

26 August 2016
Chairperson: NA Component Mr V Smith (ANC) and NCOP Component Mr P Nzimande (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Constitutional Review had interaction with a delegation from Indonesia where they shared information on matters related to the Constitution. They discussed impeachment, the role of the legislative arm of SA, and long term planning for development.

The Committee adopted its Committee Report on the 2013 Public Submissions. Due to time constraints, the Committee did not allow the briefing from the Parliamentary Legal Advisers on the 2015 Public Submissions to take place.

Meeting report

Committee Report on 2013 Public Submissions

Dr Motshekga suggested the report not be adopted because some submitters would still be recalled for oral presentations. Rather it be accepted as it is.

Mr K Mpumlwana (ANC) agreed with Dr Motshekga saying it should not go to any House until it was finalised.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) stated the Committee is required to report on progress, and failure to do that would mean it was not doing anything. The Committee still needed to deliberate on Section 25 of the Constitution, same sex matters, etc. So, it had to report on its work to the two Houses, as bound by law. It was better to file an interim report and eliminate items that needed further processing. He moved for the adoption of the report.

The Committee Report was adopted with amendments.

Parliamentary Legal Advisers presentation on the 2015 Public Submissions

Dr Motshekga proposed the presentation should be postponed due to a lack of quorum and time was against the Committee. He also indicated the Committee was not going to be able to meet on 9 September because it was invited to the coronation of the Vhavenda King.

Ms R Mothapo (ANC) indicated that the legal advisers took time to prepare the report, and the Committee needed enough time to listen to the presentation. It would not be fair to give the presenters less time and the Committee to give them less attention. She suggested the presentation should be done either on a Wednesday or Thursday afternoon when there was plenty of time.

The Committee agreed to the postponement.

Interaction with the Indonesian delegation

The NA Component Chairperson informed the delegation about the work they were doing as a Committee. He enlightened the delegation that whenever constitutional issues arose that needed to be addressed, the Committee invited submissions through the media and people had to make submissions within 30 days. The submissions were then processed by the Committee support staff and presented to the Members. The Members then looked at the submissions. After deliberations, the Committee invited oral presentations from the submitters. The Committee would then deliberate on the matters. The Committee inherited submissions from the previous Parliament.

A member of the Indonesian delegation asked what was the role of Parliament in RSA is in terms of legislation, and wanted to find out how the impeachment of the president was done in SA.

Mr S Swart (ACDP), on legislation, explained that the legislation arm of government exercised oversight, amongst other chief things. The SA government had a constitutional democracy. The laws of the country were enacted through paying close attention to the Constitution. The legislative authority of SA was similar to that of Indonesia. Impeachment was set in the Constitution. Section 89 of the Constitution referred to the removal of the President if:

  • He/she seriously violated the law
  • He/she seriously neglected his/her duties
  • His/her misconduct was serious

That motion had to be passed by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly. Section 102 of the Constitution also dealt with the motion of no confidence, if passed by more than 50% of the National Assembly.

A member of the Indonesian delegation remarked that two things that helped in the development of nations: (a) the philosophy of the nation, and (b) the moral base for the Constitution. In the past, Indonesia was a one-party state for a very long time. After the introduction of the reforms, the term of the president was reduced to five years and this makes it difficult for long term plans for development. Now the members of the Indonesian Parliament were debating the matter. He asked the Committee to comment on the issue.

Dr Motshekga elaborated that the ruling party derived its policies from the Freedom Charter. Now it has developed an NDP which takes the country to 2030 to plan for long term development.

NCOP component Chairperson Mr Nzimande stated that philosophy or doctrine informed the lifeline of the Constitution. The preamble of our Constitution captured our aspirations and what the government needs to do. It was important to note that our Constitution is characterised as a pluralist kind of a Constitution in terms of which it promotes equality – whatever is just and fair is acceptable. There should be collectivism in diversity. The country, for example, has religious practices that are different, termination of pregnancy is allowed, and there are civil unions, etc. – that diversity is contained in the Constitution.

Dr Motshekga added that a belief in one God had created problems for SA. It neglected that many people like the Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. believe in a different God. The Constitution of SA talks about Interfaith in order to accommodate all religions and to make all feel at home. Then there is Ubuntu – humanity common to everybody. That is the principle that united South Africans. That was why we talk about diversity in unity.

Mr S Mncwabe (NFP) also commented that our Constitution sought to promote a non-sexist democracy based on human rights where everyone is equal before the law, and that is the philosophy that guides us.

A member of the Indonesian delegation commented that a belief in one God makes everyone to believe in one God, and that guarantees the freedom of religion in Indonesia. That is why the belief in one God is part of the five guiding principles. He further added that in Indonesia there is also a piece of legislation where everyone must have a religion.

The NCOP component Chairperson Mr Nzimande thanked the delegation for choosing the RSA Parliament.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 15 April and 19 August with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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