Committee Programme on provincial public hearings

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Meeting Summary

Documents used in meeting: 
Proposed Public Hearings Programme (to be amended)
Call for Comment
ATC191209: First Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution on the Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill, dated 5 December 2019
Section 25 Review Process
RSA Constitution
Rules of Parliament
2019 Draft Expropriation Bill

The Ad Hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation amending Section 25 of Constitution engaged in discussions to finalise the programme for provincial public hearings. A draft programme was presented but Members were concerned that some of the venues were the same as those previously visited by the Joint Constitutional Review Committee and wanted to ensure that people in other districts were given the opportunity to voice their opinions. That principle had to be balanced against the principle of accessibility for as many people as possible. Once Members had made suggestions for amendments, it was agreed to leave the matter to the Secretariat to finalise the programme and to present it to the Chief Whip’s Forum.

The Committee would be able to visit approximately 27 venues as it would divide into two groups, as allocated by the political party principals. One group would visit Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng and two venues in the Western Cape. The second group would visit Northern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and two venues in the Western Cape. The entire Committee would attend the public hearings in Parliament.

The Committee agreed to allocate one day to meeting with the South African National Inter-Faith Council, a grouping of all religious organizations in the country as the majority of South Africans were affiliated to a religious organisation and the organisations could assist in mobilising the people of South Africa, as well as ensuring that the correct message was conveyed to South Africans.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and placed on record the cooperation that he had had from all political parties in the process. He appreciated the manner in which political parties had viewed this as a national process and not a party-driven process; a process that had to be driven through consensus. The Committee had worked on that basis and that was why, when the Committee was considering an extension, he had said that no matter how few requests had come, the Committee would attach weight to the requests and grant the extension.

The Committee had made the wrong assumption about the people’s understanding about what was required of them. Some people said, “Amend section 25” and others said, “Do not amend section 25” but that was not the question. That question had been addressed earlier on. The question was about what people wanted to see in the Bill that had been gazetted amending section 25 and it was now the responsibility of public representatives to explain to people what was expected so that in the extended period, they answered the correct question. When public representatives came to craft the draft Bill for submission to the House, that Bill had to be crafted on what both black and white people were saying and therefore, it was important that all people in SA, regardless of their standing in society, said what they want to see in the Bill.

The Chairperson noted that what had been learnt from previous public hearings was that sometimes public representatives failed to appreciate the fact that SA’s democracy is a participative and representative democracy. Participative and representative democracy meant that the people elected the 400 members who were in Parliament to represent them, not because public representatives have the monopoly of wisdom but because the public representatives could better represent them in Parliament. An election did not take away the right of the people to participate in the democracy and that was why the democracy was both representative and participatory. He appealed to all Members to understand that the public hearings meant listening to what the public was saying and that the public hearings were not to be turned into a battle of ideas between the parties. Members were privileged to have been elected to the National Assembly so they could engage in the battle of ideas in Parliament. They should not deprive the people of SA who had elected them as Members of the opportunity to tell them what should inform the work they had to do in Parliament.

He was heartened by the fact that all political parties, regardless of their size, had been cooperative in the process. He would be attaching equal importance to what all political parties said and there would be no privilege accorded to any party because there was no political party in Parliament, however small, that did not represent people of SA. The process was about all the people of SA and they all had to be heard. Members would go down in history as being involved in an historic process.

As the President had observed, it was as if they were back in 1996 and were drafting the Constitution. They were the privileged few. He was encouraged by the fact that the Members took the process very seriously and in the best interests of the people of South Africa.

The Chairperson noted that he had asked for inputs by the previous Friday but added that Members were still welcome to recommend changes.

Proposed Public Hearing Programme

The Committee Secretary presented the proposed Public Hearing Programme. He indicated that he had taken into account Members’ recommendations.

Group A

20 – 24 February 2020: Limpopo

Vhembe - Thohoyandou

Capricorn - Polokwane

Mopani - Tzaneen

27 February – 1 March 2020: Mpumalanga




5 – 9 March 2020: North West

Ratlou Municipality - Setlagole Village

Mamusa Municipality - Schweizer-Reneke

J B Marx Municipality – Ventersdorp

12 – 15 March 2020: Gauteng




17 – 22 March 2020: Western Cape

Mossel Bay


17 – 19 March 2020: Parliament

17 – The National Interfaith Council of South Africa

18, 19 Public Hearings

Group B

20 – 24 February 2020: Northern Cape




27 February – 1 March 2020: Free State




5 – 9 March 2020: KwaZulu-Natal





12 – 15 March 2020: Eastern Cape


King William’s Town

Motherwell/Nangoza – Jebe


17 - 22 March 2020: Western Cape



17 – 19 March 2020: Parliament

(17 – The SA National Inter-Faith Council)

18, 19 - Public Hearings

The number of days made available for public hearings in Parliament would be informed by the requests for oral presentations of submissions.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that there was a request from the SA National Inter-Faith Council, a grouping of all religious organizations. Members knew that the religious organisations had lots of land and the same respect given to kings, queens and tribal leaders, must also be given to religious leaders. He suggested that 17 March 2020 be set aside for meeting the Inter-Faith Council. The public hearings in Parliament could take place on 18 and 19 March. He did not want the same confusion that had arisen when Parliament had dealt with the communal land. It had to be clear that the process was dealing with the Amendment of the Constitution; the process was not dealing with customary laws. The Committee should not send wrong messages that would confuse the people.


Ms R Lesoma (ANC) assumed that the dates would change as a result of the decisions of the previous meeting regarding the extension of the submission date.  She assumed that the process of writing to the Speaker had begun. Secondly, she assumed that the administrative officials had taken travelling into account. The Committee had also pointed out that at the previous meeting. Members had decided that, understanding the importance of the work that they had been given, it would be appropriate to meet with the Traditional Leaders before they held public meetings in certain provinces.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Lesoma for reminding the Committee of its decisions and he re-endorsed what she had said.

Mr F Shivambu (EFF) said that some of the areas identified should not be the same areas visited during the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) process. It was necessary to be diverse. His thinking was that the inputs would be more or less the same. In Vhembe, the only hall that one could go to was the same one used by the CRC. Vhembe Municipality included Makhado, Musina, Thulamela and Mutale. He suggested that the Committee might need to go to either Makhado or Thulamela.

Mr Shivambu said that in the Eastern Cape, the Chris Hani region had been covered by the CRC and Engcobo was in Chris Hani region but there had not been a meeting in Amathole. Perhaps there should be a meeting in Amathole instead of Engcobo which had already been covered. The Committee had to prioritise areas that had not been covered. There had been complaints that certain areas in the Eastern Cape had not been covered previously. At the end of the process, the Committee report would be able to state that all 52 districts in SA had been given an opportunity to make input.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Shivambu and said that he had the right approach. He would ask the administrative staff to ensure that venues were large enough so that people were not turned away.

Mr Buthelezi requested two changes in KwaZulu-Natal – he was sure that his colleagues from KwaZulu-Natal would agree with him. Escort and Ladysmith were only 30km apart, so he suggested that the hearing be held at one of the towns, but not both, and a hearing be held in Jozini in the far North. It was in the Umkhanyakude District and any town in that district would actually be acceptable to him. In Zululand, he suggested Vryheid as it was the centre of five municipalities so people would have easy access.

The Chairperson said that he and the staff were just administering the process; Members represented the people and knew the areas and he could not argue with them. He appreciated the input.

Dr M Ndlozi (EFF) spoke about the parliamentary process from 17 to 19 March 2020. He did not understand the point of the Church group but he hoped that the Committee would decide collectively which groups would present. In the previous process, there had been a meeting where the Committee received IT submissions from people. It they had a similar meeting, the Committee could decide then on who would be given an opportunity to present. He did not have the programme before him so he was not sure about the timing but because submissions closed at the end of February, he was sure that there would be an opportunity to have a meeting and still inform people early enough that they would be presenting. The principle was that the Committee should collectively make the decision.                                                                                                                                                                     

Dr Ndlozi added that from 12 to 15 March, the Committee would be in Gauteng. It was four days but there were only three areas. Gauteng was small enough to add another metro – Johannesburg or Ekurhuleni. He suggested the latter as a meeting had been held in Johannesburg on the previous occasion. Perhaps somewhere in Kathelong. He reminded the Chairperson that he had made the suggestion about four venues at the previous meeting. The comment about not revisiting areas had also been made the previous time so he had expected to see the changes in the revised programme. The CRC had been to places such as Vryburg before.  The Committee should be able to say that it had had a conversation with different people. He believed that that was a good principle.

The Chairperson agreed that Dr Ndlozi had made some good points about collective decisions and responsibilities but with regard to SAIFC – which included all religions – the purpose was not a public hearing but to explain to them that the process was not about grabbing land from them but about amending the Constitution. Religious organisations represented the majority of people in the country and he wanted them to understand the process and to mobilise the people. It was important that they did not leave out any religious organisations but that they were briefed in the same way that the Committee wanted to brief the kings and queens. The religious organisations had an important role in the community. He added that, depending on the availability of the venues, the Secretary should try to avoid repeating places.

The Chairperson assured Members that everything would be done in consultation with Committee Members. No unilateral decisions would be taken on their behalf.

Ms N Ntobongwana (ANC) was concerned about the dates, especially for the Western Cape as they were the same dates as those for the public hearings in Parliament. She asked if that could be sorted out. Parliamentary hearings would be on 18 and 19 March and the areas mentioned in the Western Cape would be visited on 17- 22 March.

Mr Z Mandela (ANC) agreed with his colleagues that the Committee should go to areas that they had not previously visited. He agreed with Mr Buthelezi. On religious leaders, he agreed that all should be invited. However, the Committee should not write to one organisation or over-arching umbrella body which might not invite everyone. Rather, an invitation should be sent to each and every religious organisation so that each one was personally invited. He also proposed the adoption of the programme for public hearings.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Mandela for the input. He said that he had not provided an exhaustive list of all the religious organisations that would be invited.

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) noted that Mr Mandela had been in a rush to close the meeting so that he could leave ceremoniously. He agreed with the principle not to re-visit places that the CRC had previously visited but it was likely that there would be some exceptional cases. If one looked at the proposed programme, there was a limited number of places to be visited and in a vast area, one had to try and strike the central spot. He and Mr Shivambu both represented and understood the demographics of Vhembe. He did not want to dispute the fact that the CRC had visited Vhembe in Thoyondou but, practically speaking, if one took the meeting to an extreme point to the north or south, then one added an additional 30 to 40 km, which would punish people from coming the extreme areas in the opposite direction. Thoyondou was in the centre and there were two community halls which would cater for everyone. But, if they only wanted to cater for people in Thulamela, they could take the meeting there and if they wanted to cater only for people in Makhado and Thoyondou, they could take the meeting to Makhado. That was his humble submission.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee should deal with principles: The venue had to be central and accessible to all people in the area but the administrators had to go out of their way to make sure that all people were consciously mobilised and brought to that centre. The inputs were noted. The programme was not cast in stone but would be circulated amongst Members and, in appreciation of the support of the Chief Whip’s Forum, the Chairperson of the Chief Whip’s forum would be informed of the programme.

He added that Mr Mandela had made a proposal but no one had seconded him while he was there, so the Committee would note his attempt to take the Committee forward, but the Committee could not act on that basis.

Ms Lesoma asked for a summary of what was available. Everyone had made submissions and proposals and so the programme had to be finalised. She requested that all the inputs be included and the programme be finalised. She also requested Members to indicate to the administration if they wanted to be in Group A or B so that there could be an even balance. She proposed that the Committee should meet the following week to deal with administrative details.

Dr Ndlozi said that the inputs and changes needed to be integrated and that would be the final programme. Everyone had expressed their views. Secondly, the Members could not discuss groups. The whippery of parties had to allocate people to groups and the final programme should show who was in A and B and who was going where. He offered to chair the group that the Chairperson was not in as the Chair was just a facilitatory process and there were no decisions to be made. He wanted to show that it was a multi-party process.

The Chairperson reminded Dr Ndlozi that it was not a party political process so his proposal was not out of order, despite the laughter that had greeted Dr Ndlozi’s proposal.

Dr A Lotriet (DA) agreed that the party whips would decide on which groups Members would be assigned to.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had consensus as to where they were going and the Members should not discuss groups as that was the job of the chief whips. The Committee would send a report to the Chief Whips who would take the matter to the Programming Committee so that Parliament was taken on board. The whips would know that the Members put into teams had to be those Members who had been ATC’d and not those who had been proxied. The Secretariat would process everything that had been decided in the meeting.

The Chairperson stated that the names of Members who would be in each group had to go to the House Chairperson, Mr Frolick, so he asked parties to talk to their principals timeously.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and declared the meeting closed.

The meeting was adjourned.


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