The Standing Committee met with Officials from the Western Cape Education Department to consider and adopt the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill [B1-2018]. As the Committee Chairperson was absent, an acting Chairperson needed to be elected. The ANC was uncomfortable with the election of Member Botha for that role because of accusations that had been made in public the previous day.
The ANC pointed out that there were a number of clauses that dealt with the sale of liquor but there seemed to be no amendments to such despite public comments. Many submissions were totally against that clause but it remained in the Bill.
The Acting Chairperson said that the initial Bill had about two lines in it pertaining to the exception clause on the alcoholic provision. After receiving various inputs on the alcoholic provision, the clause has been changed dramatically. The clause was now a page and a half long. As indicated, this was an exception to the prohibition of alcohol on school premises. This provision was made to make the Bill more accountable; and to build checks and balances where schools had the right to apply to the Head of Department (HoD) to allow for the sale or use of alcohol on school premises or during school activities. There was an application that must be made by the school to the HoD, the HoD would then approve or decline the application. An appeal mechanism was also built in where the school can appeal to the MEC if the HoD does not grant permission. Furthermore, there was additional framework built in to say that the HoD must have regard to the Alcohol Reduction Policy of the Western Cape and it was also applicable to the Western Cape Liquor Act.
There was only on amendment made and the rest of the amendment Bill was as before. The DA supported the Bill whereas the ANC was strongly against it.
The Chairperson for the Standing Committee on Education, Mr B Kivedo (DA) had given apologies for his absence from the meeting.
Ms L Botha (DA) was nominated and elected to act as Chairperson in his absence.
The Members introduced themselves followed by the Department and visitors.
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) arrived after the election of the Acting Chairperson. He informed the Committee that there was an issue he and Mr T Olivier (ANC) wished to raise after the introductions were complete.
The Acting Chairperson gave Mr Olivier the opportunity to bring forth the issue.
Mr Olivier said that he would prefer to discuss the matter privately amongst the Members but it could also be discussed in front of the Officials from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) if she would allow it.
Mr M Wiley (DA) said that without knowing the substance of the issue the Members could not make the decision on whether to discuss it during the meeting or afterwards.
Mr Olivier explained that it was about the absence of the Chairperson Kivedo and the election of Ms Botha as Acting Chairperson.
The Acting Chairperson said that Member Kivedo was off sick. She had received an apology from Mr Kivedo and Mr F Christians (ACDP) who was also absent.
Mr Olivier said that he had received a number of phone calls the previous day about Mr Kivedo’s absence; and that Ms Botha had issued a statement as to why Mr Kivedo was unable to exercise his duties. Those allegations in the statement were directed at himself and Mr Dugmore. This was why he wished to raise it as it those allegations seemed to suggest that the condition of Mr Kivedo’s health was as a result of intimidation from himself and Mr Dugmore.
Mr Wiley said that Ms Botha’s position of Acting Chairperson was done in compliance of the rules of the Legislature and he had received a doctor’s certificate relating to the absence of Mr Kivedo. He asked for the Committee to proceed with the agenda of the meeting.
Mr Dugmore said that Ms Botha had issued a public statement that Mr Kivedo told her that some of the Members had intimidated him. This was an issue for the Committee. It was very clear that Mr Kivedo had serious problems with this bill. Ms Botha was questioning the integrity of the Committee by public stating Mr Kivedo was being intimidated but recording him as sick during the meeting. This was jeopardising the process. He asked that Ms Botha come clean about what Mr Kivedo had told her.
Mr Wiley said that normal parliamentary procedure had been followed and asked for the meeting to proceed.
Mr Oliver said that he did not question the process followed but was questioning Ms Botha acting as Chairperson. He did not want it to be construed to the public that himself and the other Member were a cause for Mr Kivedo’s condition.
The Acting Chairperson said that this was no longer relevant to the agenda of the meeting and wished to move on with it. The agenda for the meeting was the consideration of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Bill [B1-2018]. She stated that all the Members should have studied the matrix by now; she would not go through it line by line and would allow for any questions of clarity on it.
Mr Dugmore said that it was known that Mr Kivedo strongly opposed to certain provisions made in the Bill and it was a pity that Mr Kivedo was not there to elaborate on that himself. He insinuated that Mr Kivedo had intentionally been removed from the meeting.
The Acting Chairperson told the Committee that focus must be on the agenda and to leave Mr Kivedo out of the meeting.
Mr Olivier asked that Ms Botha calm down as it was her actions that put the Committee in this positon.
The Acting Chairperson asked the Department and visitors to leave the Committee room so that the Members may bring an end to the discussion.
Ten minutes later the meeting regrouped.
Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill [B1-2018]
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Officials from the WCED and the audience for allowing the Committee to debrief. She asked the Members for their questions of clarity.
Mr Dugmore referred to item three in the matrix, clause five. He asked if it was true that funders refuse to get involved in collaboration schools unless they had 50% of the seats on the School Governing Body (SGB).
Adv Lynn Coleridge-Zils, Director: Policy Coordination, WCED, said that in the initial conceptual Bill donors wanted majority status on the SGBs of collaboration schools. After consultations in terms of the Inter-Governmental Relations Framework Act, discussions with the Minister and consideration of public comments, the clause was amended to make for a 50/50 (equal) status between SGBs and donors.
Mr Dugmore asked if it was a condition for the donor’s participation.
Ms Amanda Torr, State Law Advisor, said that it was rational in its own merit.
Mr Olivier said that there were a number of clauses that dealt with the sale of liquor but there seemed to be no amendments to such despite public comments. Many submissions were totally against that clause but it remained in the Bill. He asked what had been changed.
The Acting Chairperson said that the initial Bill had about two lines in it pertaining to the exception clause on the alcoholic provision. After receiving various inputs on the alcoholic provision, the clause has been changed dramatically. The clause was now a page and a half long. As indicated, this was an exception to the prohibition of alcohol on school premises. This provision was made to make the Bill more accountable; and to build checks and balances where schools had the right to apply to the Head of Department (HoD) to allow for the sale or use of alcohol on school premises or during school activities. There was an application that must be made by the school to the HoD, the HoD would then approve or decline the application. An appeal mechanism was also built in where the school can appeal to the MEC if the HoD does not grant permission. Furthermore, there was additional framework built in to say that the HoD must have regard to the Alcohol Reduction Policy of the Western Cape and it was also applicable to the Western Cape Liquor Act. There were a lot of processes in place to obtain this benefit which were not in the initial version. Schools have freedom of choice, should they not want the benefit there was no need to apply. The school community then has the right to decide.
Mr Archie Lewis, Deputy Director-General: Institution Development Coordination, WCED, said that the Department cannot change the Bill. The onus was now with the Standing Committee and it must relay whatever decisions it makes to the broader house.
Adv Coleridge-Zils said that in the previous decisions it was stated that this provision could live harmoniously within the current framework and legislature.
Mr Olivier accepted the responses but said it was clearly rejected in the public hearing as seen on page 37 of the matrix. These provisions make for more responsibilities for the HoD.
Adv Coleridge-Zils pointed out that on page 38 of the matrix, in relation to this provision, 83 schools submitted formal comments in favour of the clause to the Committee.
Mr Wiley, in addition to what Adv Coleridge-Zils noted, said that there were many comments that supported this provision as long as there were stringent rules. Some comments said that it was a necessity as it was a reality that some schools have already been selling alcohol so it needed to be regularised.
Mr Dugmore referred to item 69 in the matrix and its response, he did not feel that the response dealt with the specific issue of policy documents which call for schools to be alcohol and drug free zones. He asked if the Department felt that the referenced response dealt with the issue that Equal Education raised.
Mr Olivier asked for the audio recordings of the public hearings. The rationale behind the provision was to benefit those 83 schools.
Mr Dugmore asked how many of those 83 schools were former Model-C schools were.
The Acting Chairperson did not have the true answer to Mr Dugmore’s question but said that looking at the list of names it seemed as though all those schools were all former Model-C schools. She would relay the correct answer after the meeting.
Mr Dugmore asked for the official number of public schools in the Western Cape.
Mr Lewis said there were 1413 public schools.
Mr Wiley asked the lawyers to confirm that the purpose of putting the legalese was to allow any school, should they wish to have an occasion at which alcohol was served –like a farewell function or fundraiser, to request permission per occasion. It would not be exclusionary.
Adv Coleridge-Zils said it was a once-off application. They would not apply for every event at which alcohol was served.
Mr Wiley asked if it would be better to have categories of application so that it would not be construed as a blanket allowance.
Mr Lewis said the Committee should consider making the application for the use of alcohol per occasion. That could be included into the regulation.
Mr Olivier asked if the Department looked at the current socio-economic conditions of the province- particularly alcohol, drugs and violence at schools- when considering this provision.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) asked that the Committee focus on asking questions of clarity at this stage in the proceedings.
Adv Coleridge-Zils said that the Committee must appreciate that governing bodies represent communities. It was believed that SGBs would apply their respective context and needs when considering to apply for the benefit.
Ms Torr responded to Mr Dugmore’s query on policy. From a legal point, policies were never rigid and were flexible. Policies act as a general rule and could have exceptions. The response in item 64 states that the HoD must take into consideration the alcohol harms reduction. There was robust consultation between the Department and the Alcohol Task Team to arrive at these provisions.
Clause-by-clause reading of bill
The Acting Chairperson would now go through the Bill clause-by-clause for the informal process. She noted that all possible amendments would be checked by the Department and the legal advisors before being agreed to. The decision put forth to the Committee was to amend or not to amend.
There were no amendments to the short title or long title and only clause 11 had an amendment put forth.
Ms Torr said that in clause 11 -proposed section 12(e), subsection 2-there was amendment of grammar. This was in item 46 of the matrix in the response to questions from Equal Education.
Mr Olivier asked where the insertion arose from.
Mr Torr explained it came from comments that said that there was not sufficient detail in that clause and from the opinion of the legal advisors.
Adv Coleridge-Zils said that it ensured the learner’s basic right to education no matter the location of learning.
Mr Wiley asked for confirmation that this was not a material difference but rather a change of wording.
Mr Torr confirmed Mr Wiley’s question.
Adv André Le Roux, Legal Advisor, Western Cape Provincial Parliament, said that intervention facilities were vital. The amendment clarifies that the level of education must remain up to standard and it also allows for residential care.
The Acting Chairperson put forth the motion of desirability of the amendment Bill.
Mr Olivier said that the ANC did not support the amendment bill, even if it was legally correct.
Mr Mitchell and Mr R Mackenzie (DA) supported the Bill.
The DA supported the motion of desirability and the ANC opposed it.
The Acting Chairperson recorded the responses and concluded the agenda point. The Committee would meet the following day to officially vote on the Bill.
The meeting adjourned.