Members of the Portfolio Committee on Health met to receive the proposed amendments to the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) Amendment Bill. The proposed amendments redrafted specific clauses in the Bill in a way that would capture the submissions during previous deliberations.
On certain clauses the Department of Health and Parliament’s Legal Services provided joint documents on the proposal. The proposal was presented by the Parliamentary Legal Services on behalf of both parties. The amendments were in clauses 5 (d) and 5(e), 6 (1) (d) and (1) (e), clause 12, clause 13, clause 14 and clause 18.
The redraft of this clauses were read to the Committee with explanations to clarify why they were proposed. Members agreed with the proposal except for a Member of the AIC who was not clear about why there was no nomination in the case of the Department of Health, but rather an appointment by the Minister as captured in clause 6 (1).
The Chairperson confirmed that Members had copies of the principal Bill. She thanked Members for heeding the call of the Committee despite other schedules that they have for the day. She said the outcome of the arbitration on the Life Esidimeni process showed that the sector needed to do a lot of work to prevent this from happening again. Deliberations on the amendments started the week and the Department with the Parliament’s Legal Services are required to make submissions by redrafting the Bill to capture some of the issues raised by Members..
Parliamentary Legal Services
Ms Anthea Gordon, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said clause 5 dealt with Section 7 of the Principal Act, i.e. the composition of the board. The changes required arethe elimination of the three representatives from provincial departments and inclusion of one representative from organised labour. She proposed that (d) be deleted and the clause 5(e) will become the new clause 5 (d). The new clause 5(e) would be ‘one representative from organised labour’
The Chairperson asked if Members understood the explanation.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) asked if the proposal meant that the (d) would be replaced by the present phrase in (e).
Ms Gordon agreed and said although the technical aspect would be captured in the ‘A’ list; the explanation was to help Members understand how the amended version of the Bill would be presented.
Mr T Nkonzo (ANC) said the request of Members was captured.
Ms P Kopane (DA) agreed with Mr Nkonzo.
Mr S Jafta (AIC) said the Bill specified that, with regards to the Department of Higher Education (DHET) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), board members would be nominated by the Director-General and appointed by the Minister. He asked why the Department of Health was not included for the specific process and who will nominate members of the board.
Dr Anban Pillay, Director General, Department of Health said the understanding of the Department was that the board was appointed by the Minister and the Minister of Health would identify the suitable individual that would be appropriate within the Department of Health.
Ms E Wilson (DA) said the Department would go through a process of nomination where the respective bodies involved would submit names through the gazette process.
The Chairperson asked if the Department agreed with Ms Wilson’s submission.
Dr Pillay said nomination for board members would be among the six and said interested people would approach the Director-Generals of DST or DHET with a proposal to participate. In the case of the Department of Health, the Minister, would identify the right people.
Chairperson asked if the clarification was clear to Mr Jafta
Mr Jafta said it was not yet clear because it meant that there would be no nomination of persons by the Department of Health; rather there would be an appointment by the Minister.
Ms Gordon said Mr Jafta was correct to say there would be no nomination of representatives of provincial departments, but there was an appointment procedure to be followed. There would be a nomination of the representatives for DST and DHET and then an appointment by the Ministers of the respective departments.
Mr Jafta was not satisfied with the explanation.
The Chairperson said Members would explain better to Mr Jafta outside the meeting.
Ms Gordon said the deletion of clause 5 (d) and replacement of 5 (d) with 5 (e), brought about a consequential amendment in clause 6. The phrase ‘and (d)’ in Clause 6 (1) will be replaced with ‘and (e)’ which will add to it the inclusion of one person from organised labour. Likewise, the phrase ‘clause 6(1)(e) will be deleted and substituted with ‘Clause 6(1)(d).
Chairperson confirmed that all Members understood.
Ms Gordon said ‘and determine his or her remuneration’ was inserted after ‘Service in Clause 13A (1) of the as requested by the Committee. Also, the two issue lumped together in Clause 13A (6) was deleted and substituted with Clause 13A (6) (a) ‘if the Chief executive officer is unable to perform his or her functions as the Chief Executive officer; or “and Clause 13A (6) (b) ‘during a vacancy in the office of Chief Executive Officer’.
Ms C Ndaba (ANC) reminded the Committee that in a previous meeting, Mr A Mahlalela (ANC) noted that the two clauses should be separated and she observed that it was correctly captured by the Parliamentary Legal Services.
Ms Gordon said Clause 13 of the Bill was rejected and redrafted into three sub-clauses.
She said if the Committee agreed with the manner in which clause 14 was redrafted, then clause 14 of the Principal Act would be repealed because the current clause 14 had a provision that found its way into clause 13.
Ms Gordon said ‘2017’ which reflected the last time that the Bill was redrafted was changed to ‘2018’ to reflect a new date of amendment.
Ms Ndaba said she agreed with the way the clause was redrafted. The Committee had earlier agreed that NHLS funding must be appropriated through Parliament, but she requested for clarification on clause 14..
Ms Gordon said if the Committee adopted the proposed clause 13; it would change the entire mechanism of funding while clause 14 referred to the existing funding mechanism which would be changed if the proposed clause 13 was adopted; hence Clause 14 was repealed.
The Chairperson said the proposed amendment would be included in the Bill and the new Bill be forwarded to Committee Members. The Committee would then go through clause-by-clause deliberations and adopt the Bill. She said there will be a meeting on Tuesday and Members needed to attend. The Bill will be sent to Members via email by Friday to read ahead of the meeting. She thanked Members for their presence despite having other meetings and for the work that they have done for the benefit of all South Africans through the amendment of the Bill. Members should also prepare for the Amendment of the National Public Health Institute of South Africa (NAPHISA) Bill which is on the way. She said there will be a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committees on Agriculture and Trade and Industry on 28 of March and she encouraged Members to attend.
The meeting was adjourned.
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