Western Cape Commissioner for Children Bill amendment: consideration

Premier & Constitutional Matters (WCPP)

27 February 2019
Chairperson: Mr D Mitchell (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Documents: Western Cape Commissioner for Children Bill

The Committee met to discuss adjustments to the Amendment Bill adopted by the Committee in the previous meeting. The amendments dealt with editorial and grammatical corrections.

 The terms 'powers and duties' were proposed as replacement for the word 'functions' in the previous meeting. It was however proposed that the conjunction 'and' should be replaced with 'or' in the latest version of the Bill. These changes applied to Clauses 8, 9, 12 and 18 of the Bill.

The preparation for the public hearings with respect to the Bill was considered. About 3 500 public comments have been received so far. Based on the amount spent on the previous public hearings held in 2015, it was estimated that R300 000 will be needed to handle the public hearings.

Members agreed that the finalisation of the Bill should be left to the Sixth Parliament due to time constraints and the fact that the Bill was introduced to the Committee at such a time that it was impracticable for the Committee to finalise it. The Committee decided to seek legal advice on the matter in order to deal with any legal implications that might be associated with the decision. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson apologised on behalf of Mr Basil Kivedo who could not attend the meeting. The agenda of the meeting was to consider the adjustments to the Amendment Bill adopted by the Committee in the previous meeting. The Committee coordinator and Parliamentary Legal Adviser informed the Chairperson that there could be potential changes to the Bill before its finalisation.

Presentation by the Department of the Premier
Mr L Van Der Schyff Senior Legal Adviser: Department of the Premier said that the Bill needed editorial changes, none of which was substantial. The amendments dealt with change of words and grammatical corrections. 

Clause 1 
On page 2 (line 18), the word 'two' is substituted with the word 'second'

Clause 3 
On page 4 one of the two insertions was removed. ‘After line 35’ was replaced with ‘before line 36’.

Clause 8
the word ‘functions’ was replaced with 'powers and duties'. It is now amended to be 'powers or duties'

Clause 9 
On page 5 (line 52); the word ‘functions’ was replaced with 'powers and duties'. It is now amended to be 'powers or duties'

Clause 10 
Paragraph B was reworded so that it reads: ‘the Constitution and the national legislation and the children and the provincial Constitution’.

Also on Clause 10, the word ‘functions’ was replaced with 'powers and duties'. It is now amended to be 'powers or duties' on page 6 (line 12).

Clause 15
At the end of the insertion, sub-Clause 4 reads ‘Section 4 or 5’, not ‘Sections 4 and 5’. The Department will only be tied to one of the two, not to both.

Clause 18
The word ‘functions’ was replaced with 'powers and duties'. It is now amended to be 'powers or duties'

All members agreed to the proposed amendments.

Adv Romeo Maasdorp, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, Parliament, said that he was at the meeting with Mr Schyff and other colleagues when the amendments were made. He was familiar with the inputs and was in agreement with the amendments.

The Chairperson proposed that the revised document dated February 12 2019 should be dated February 27, 2019. The document was considered and agreed to. It will be submitted to the House.

The Chairperson said that the Committee Report remains the same.

The Chairperson sought the permission of members to include in the agenda the proposed date for the public hearing of the Western Cape Amendment Bill.

The Chairperson told the Committee Coordinator to include Committee Members in all correspondence so that Members are acquainted with the process. The last public hearing, according to the Parliamentary Program, is proposed for April 10, 2019. The Chairperson said it will take about three to four weeks to compile the matrix of all the public hearings. Ms Waseema Achmat,  Committee Coordinator, said that the compilation will take about two to three weeks if the Committee decides to bring more people on board. The Committee Coordinator noted that about 3 500 comments have been received so far in terms of the Bill. Ms Achmat said that the previous round of public hearings cost about R300 000 in 2015. She was still busy with the estimation of the current cost.

Acknowledging the fact that the official term of the current Committee ends on May 6, 2019, the Chairperson felt that it was prudent to leave the Bill to be considered by the Sixth Parliament. This is necessary to avoid a hasty process that could be detrimental to the Bill, especially in terms of effective public participation.

Ms L Botha (DA) agreed with the Chairperson that the finalisation of the Bill should be left for the Sixth Parliament. She noted that the Committee has a challenge in terms of the time required to complete the matrix. She noted further that the compilation of the matrix might extend into May 2019, which coincides with the end of term of the current Standing Committee.

The Chairperson promised to make the appropriate consultation and consequently advise the Committee of the legal implications of leaving the Bill till the Sixth Parliament.

Mr C Dugmore (ANC) said that the Bill was introduced at a time that made it difficult for the Committee to conclude its business. The Committee has no choice then but to leave the Bill to the Sixth Parliament, although this is in defiance of the provincial Constitution.

Ms Botha urged the Committee to get legal counsel on the matter as soon as possible.

The Chairperson reiterated his resolve to get legal opinion on the matter. He promised that the Committee will fulfil any legal obligations in respect of the Bill.

The Chairperson said that the Committee will spend about R300 000 on the public hearings.

Ms Botha hoped that the Committee could get legal opinion by March 1, 2019.

The Chairperson thanked everyone in attendance.

The meeting was adjourned.


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