Committee Programme and Identity Document Campaign

Home Affairs

22 September 2003
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Meeting report

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
23 September 2003
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME AND IDENTITY DOCUMENT CAMPAIGN

Chairperson: Mr H P Chauke

Summary
The meeting looked at the Committee programme, the provincial Identity Document campaigns, the status of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill [B37-2003] and further amendments to the Electoral Law Amendment Bill [B54-2003] (ELAB). The process of amendments of ELAB was explained by Parliamentary Rule 254 and that the Committee would not be able to change the adopted Bill.

Discussion
The Chairperson announced that the meeting would examine the programme of provincial visits for the Identity Document (ID) campaign. Concerns had been raised in KwaZulu-Natal that would be discussed in the meeting.

The Committee had completed work on two Bills. The DA and the ACDP had tabled reservations regarding Section (33), clause (9), of the Electoral Amendment Act Bill (ELAB) on the voting of South Africans living and working abroad. The Freedom Front was non-committal about the clause and the IFP supported it with certain reservations. Mr S R Pillay (NNP) expressed his anger at the way that clause (9) had been drafted. The Chairperson explained the current status of the Bill. A Notice of the Bill [B54B—2003] as adopted by the Committee had been printed in the Announcements, Tabling and Committee Reports (ATC). The final amendments had been distributed to Members. At that stage, the Committee could only propose amendments via a Motion in the House.

Mr K W Morwamoche (ANC) commented that in future the amended version of the Bill should be distributed to the Committee so they could ensure the correct work had been done.

Mr Chauke noted that copies had been circulated that day.

Mr I Pretorius (DA) said a DA meeting would be held that day and asked for clarity on the Motion that the Committee had in mind. Was the idea to amend clause (3) regarding special votes for South Africans temporarily working or living abroad?

Mr Chauke said that he had made it clear to the DA that the Committee had adopted the Bill on Friday. However, based on Parliamentary Rule 254, a member/Party could raise a Motion to the House.

Dr C P Mulder (FF) asked for the Committee Secretary to read Parliamentary Rule 254 for clarity.

Mr Johan Vermeulen read Parliamentary Rule 254: Amendments proposed by members before decision of Second Reading.
254. (1) (a) After a Bill has been placed on the Order Paper for a Second Reading but before the Assembly decided on the Second Reading, a member could place amendments to clauses of the Bill on the Order Paper.
(b) A Bill that had been rejected by the Committee that considered it, may not be amended under this Rule.
(2) Amendments delivered to the Secretary after 12h00 on any working day may be placed on the Order Paper for the second sitting day thereafter and not earlier, unless the Speaker determined otherwise in a particular case.
(3) (a) The following amendments were out of order and might not be proposed under this Rule:
(i) Amendments that affected the principle of the Bill and in respect of which the Assembly had not given any instruction.
(ii) Amendments that changed the classification of the Bill, except as provided for in Joint Rule 163.
(iii) Amendments that rendered the bill constitutionally or procedurally out of order within the meaning of Joint Rule 161.
(iv) Amendments that were out of order for any other reason.
(b) The Speaker's ruling on whether an amendment was in or out of order, was final. If the JTM has made a finding on the substance of the amendment, the Speaker was bound by the finding.
(4) No amendment which had the same effect as an amendment previously rejected in the Committee could be placed on the Order Paper, except when it was a Bill of which a Cabinet member or Deputy Minister was in charge, and that Cabinet member or Deputy Minister placed such an amendment on the Order Paper.
(5) If an amendment had been placed on the Order Paper and the debate on the Second Reading had been concluded, the Speaker could either —
(a) recommit the Bill for reconsideration to the Committee which considered the Bill or, if it was a Bill introduced by an Assembly Committee, to that Committee, together with the amendment; or
(b) put the amendment for decision by the Assembly and then the Second Reading of the Bill as a whole, including any approved amendment.
(6) An Assembly Committee to which a Bill was recommitted had to deal with the Bill in terms of Rule 255.
(7) A Bill could not be recommitted to a Committee more than once in terms of this Rule.

Mr Pretorius said that the Rule could be applied by any Party on the Order Paper before 12h00. Another route to amend the Bill would be through the NCOP. If the ANC was not willing to change the clause (3), then the matter would be rejected by Parliament. If the ANC agreed with the amendment, all South Africans overseas would be allowed to vote.

Ms M Maunye (ANC) agreed with the amended clause suggested by Mr Pretorius. The ANC did not have enough time to discuss the clause and more time was needed for the debate.

Mr Chauke said that the working process of the Bill allowed Parties to consult and discuss the Bill. The Committee would monitor any amendments that were put to the House. He emphasised that it had to be the decision of the House. The New National Party (NNP) had also raised concerns with the clause that had been noted. The process had moved ahead and any Motions would have to be tabled before 12h00 today.

Mr Chauke introduced the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill. He reported that Mr Mogotsi (Department Director of Legal Services) had been asked to include more people in the Bill.

Mr Chauke explained that in KwaZulu-Natal, certain groups had taken over the ID campaign for their own benefit. The Chair had written to the regional director of Home Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal for an update on the issue but there had been no response. District Directors of Home Affairs had also been addressed but no response had been received. The Committee had two days to finalise the ID Campaign.

Mr S R Pillay (NNP) suggested that the Committee should send Members as observers to a meeting to be held on 10 October to deal effectively with the issues.

Ms I Mars (IFP) and the Chair asked Mr Pillay to expand on the agenda of that meeting.

Mr Pillay said that it was a stakeholders meeting. In previous stakeholders meetings, one party had unacceptably dominated and controlled where the mobile units would go. On 10 October, there would be no effective monitoring from the Department of Home Affairs so the Committee's oversight could be critical.

Ms Mars was extremely concerned. She asked where were the ANC and the other parties when this was going on. More clarity was requested because it was a serious allegation.

Mr P M Mathebe (ANC) agreed that it was a very serious matter. Many reports had been received on the issue. He agreed with Mr Pillay's proposal because if one party dominated, it would ruin the elections.

Mr Chauke repeated that he had written to the Regional Director and suggested they send Members to KwaZulu-Natal. The proposal was agreed to in principal based on budget resources. In the meantime, information would be sought through written correspondence.

Mr Mathebe said that, in the light of the Committee's limited budget, the many Members from KwaZulu-Natal should use their own resources to attend.

Mr Chauke agreed that Mr Mathebe's suggestion was an option.

Ms Mars agreed but said that the Committee had to have a system to engage with such issues as similar complaints had been received.

Mr Chauke said that the Committee Secretary, Mr Johan Vermeulen, would monitor the issues reported. The Committee would invite people in charge of campaigns to report back.

Mr Chauke added that there were still two Bills, the Film and Publications Bill and the Citizenship Bill, on the agenda. There was not much time to deal with these Bills because the Committee was returning in November. He asked about the urgency of the Bills.

Adv Malatji (Chief Director: Legal Services, Department) said that the Bills were quite urgent, especially the Film and Publications Bill regarding child pornography.

Mr Morwamoche was surprised to hear this as the Committee had struggled to get the Bills from the Department. Why were they bringing these Bills just before recess?

Adv Malatji stressed that working with Bills was a very long process with many stakeholders that sometimes hindered the process.

Mr Chauke said that the Committee would look at the programme to see where the Bills could be fitted in.

Mr Mathebe disagreed with the Chair. Although ELAB was a very important Bill, the Committee had had to request the Bills for months from Home Affairs but they had only been brought now. He proposed that the new Bills should be looked at next year.

Mr Pillay agreed that the legislation should be left for next year. He suggested that the Committee meet with the Department because it regularly behaved this way.

Mr Chauke said that they would look at the programme and the Bills would either be looked at next year or in November if possible.

Ms M N Buthelezi-Oliphant (ANC) said that the Committee should be guided by the Parliamentary programme when looking at the Bills.

Mr Chauke ruled that they would try to accommodate the Bills. The provincial ID campaign visits to Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and the Free State had not been arranged. The Committee's intervention in the ID campaign would be positive. The proposed study tour programme would be circulated by Friday.

The meeting was adjourned.


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