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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 September 2003
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION
Acting Chairperson: Mr D Olifant (ANC)
Skills Development Amendment Bill [B46-2003]
The Committee considered and ultimately rejected three amendments proposed by the Democratic Alliance. The Skill Development Amendment Bill was subsequently adopted.
Skills Development Amendment Bill
Mr C Redcliffe (DA) proposed the following three amendments on behalf of the Democratic Alliance:
The insertion of the definition “black people” as a generic term to denote African, coloured and Indians South Africans. This definition would cut out the confusion which currently exists. It is taken verbatim from the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill currently being considered by Parliament.
The word “Minister” in the proposed section 3A in Sub clause (b) should be replaced with “Director-General” instead, because the Minister would not be so involved in the day-to-day activities of the Department.
The insertion of the phrase “direct the Director-General to” after the word “may” at the beginning of the proposed section 14(a)(1).
The Acting Chair stated that he did not see the need for the inclusion of the definition of “black people”, because the current definition of “designated groups” in Clause 1 already targets a certain class of people. The term is thus covered in the principal Act. The law would become clumsy if this term were to be repeated here in the Bill. Furthermore, those people identified in the definition of the term “designated groups” is not only limited to black South Africans and the term proposed by the DA would thus be unduly restrictive, or even exclusionary.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) stated that the DA should have read the Explanatory Memorandum which spells out the objects of the Bill, and Mr Redcliffe would then remember that this issue was clearly dealt with. The Bill does not discriminate nor does it intend to confuse matters. Instead it seeks only to correct the anomalies created by the Apartheid government.
Mr Redcliffe stated that the DA did not dispute the principle in the Bill aimed at redress. Instead the proposed definition seeks only to clarify the current definition of the term “black people”, and this is the precise wording currently contained in the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill. It has also been the practical experience in communities that this term only refers to “Africans”, and this proposed definition thus merely seeks to clarify this confusion. Mr Redcliffe reiterated that the DA did not oppose the principled decision in the Bill to redress previous injustices.
The Acting Chair contended that Parliament cannot amend legislation based simply on the perception “out there”, because these public perceptions did differ widely. The Bill’s proposed definition of “designated groups” covered the DA’s concern.
Ms A Bird, Department Deputy Director General, Employment and Skills Development Services and Human Resource Development, informed Members that the definition of “designated groups” mirrors the definition currently contained in the Employment Equity Act. The aim in inserting the term in the Bill was to align all the current pieces of labour legislation, and the insertion of the DA’s definition would confuse matters.
Mr Mshudulu asked Mr Redcliffe to point out exactly which provision in the Bill refers to the Director-General in this manner. All such laws provide that the Minister himself is the head of the Department, and he would then in turn delegate powers and functions to his Director-General.
Mr Mshudulu stated that it is clearly spelt out that only the Minister needs these powers, and granting them to him would not be excessive.
The Acting Chair noted that the Committee did not accept the three amendments proposed by the DA.
Motion of Desirability
The Acting Chair read the Motion of Desirability, and noted that Members agreed to it.
The Chair noted that Members agreed to these clauses as they currently stand in the Bill.
The Acting Chair read the Committee Report on the Bill, to which Members agreed. He noted that the Committee had passed the Bill.
The meeting was adjourned.