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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE
13 March 2002
These minutes were provided by the National Assembly Table Staff
Chairperson: The Speaker, Dr F Ginwala
The Speaker welcomed everyone present, especially Members returning from Zimbabwe, after having observed the elections. Only one item was to be discussed, namely, to address the question of how to proceed with the processing of the Immigration Bill. The Speaker stressed that the Bill, once passed by the National Assembly, would also have to be referred to the National Council of Provinces for adoption then referred back to the President for his assent.
The Speaker said that the Program Committee had been grappling with the Programme of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and how the process could be taken forward to ensure that legislation is put in place, necessitated the scheduling of a special NA Rules meeting. She said that the focus of the meeting should be to establish what the problem was, at what stage Parliament is and how quickly Parliament can move on the issue of processing the Immigration Bill.
Mr. Van der Merwe said that apart from discussing the process of the Bill he would also want the Committee to discuss the attitude and the actions of the Chairperson of the PC on Home Affairs, Mr Mokoena.
In response, the Speaker said that his concern could be addressed as a separate item at another meeting. Of priority, however, was the discussion of the processing of legislation by the Committee.
Mr. Mokoena welcomed the invitation from the Speaker for him to address the Rules Committee as an accountability exercise. He briefed the Committee on the programme of the PC on Home Affairs regarding the processing the Immigration Bill (Report attached).
Mr. Gibson said that the proposal outlined by Mr Mokoena was not adequate and therefore should not be accepted. Firstly, it did not take account of the NCOP legislative process, which was a fatal flaw. Secondly, he said that the Committee embarked on a process of consultations and submissions from people who may not have wanted to make submissions and who may not have any possible interest. The Bill has been through an enormously laborious process. There may be one or two bodies who may want to give evidence, but he was not aware of anyone who particularly asked to appear before the committee at this stage. He further said that the Committee had particularly asked for academia to address it, and he was not sure that academics would want to oblige, this was equally applicable to businesses and trade unions. He wanted to know which academics had expressed an interest in making submissions to the Committee.
The Speaker said that the positions of parties were attached to the letter submitted to the Presiding Officers.
Mr Gibson said that some of the briefings appeared to be a duplication, e.g. Minister., and then the Deputy Minister and then the Department. His view was that these could be condensed into one representation to the committee.
Mr. De Lange said that it was important for the process to move forward for the reasons mentioned earlier, particularly in light of the Constitutional Court judgement. He further suggested that as the Rules Committee, everything possible had to be done through the parliamentary processes to finalise the Bill in order to meet the 2nd June deadline. This deadline he said, should be given as an instruction to the PC on Home Affairs.
He further suggested that a full programme of the committee should be presented to the National Assembly Programme Committee, including the NCOP input to ensure that the Bill would be processed through Parliament. He also said that the process of submissions should not be inhibited, but there was equally no need to throw the process open. He proposed that the NA and the NCOP committees could sit together on this Bill in respect of hearings, but deliberations could be separate. If it means that the committee has to sit through recess, so be it.
Mr Pretorious said that he was in support of the proposal of the joint sittings by the two Committees so that the process could be finalized by the end of April.
Mr Nel said that the National Assembly Rules Committee should not dictate the content of the committee programme. He said that they agreed that the programme could be reworked to be submitted to the NAPC and that the Portfolio Committee should look at reporting on 6 May, so that the NCOP can have 3 weeks to complete its cycle. He said that this suggestion could be offered as a guideline to the PC on Home Affairs.
Mr Van der Merwe said that the IFP would support the proposals outlined by Mr Nel as they also wanted the legislation to be finalized.
The Speaker said that the priority was to put mechanisms in place that will enable legislation to go through. She said that the committee would address the other concerns that have been raised.
Parliament of South Africa
The Speaker said that the two proposals that members now had to focus on were: that legislation had to be finalized by the end of April, or by 6 May.
Mr Chauke agreed that the Portfolio Committee should report by 6 May and that the committee should be given a mandate to consolidate its programme.
Mrs Seaton said that they agreed with the deadlines set for legislation to be completed and that the Portfolio Committee should report back in May, but she wanted clarity on the programme of the Portfolio committee in view of the fact that it had outstanding work on the Bill.
Mr Waters agreed to the proposal for joint sittings for public hearings but had a problem with having to hold meetings during the constituency weeks programmed. He further said that the programme tabled by Mr Mokoena could be reduced as the Portfolio Committee had had extensive inputs on the White Paper early in 2000.
Mr Green said that his party supported the deadlines recommended by Mr Nel as being a reasonable timeframe for the Committee to finalise the legislation.
Mr De Lange said that the legislation might be finalised early in April as the Portfolio Committee might come up with a programme which would only need one input. He said that it would be sufficient to give guidelines to the Portfolio Committee as to when the Bill should be finalized and the Committee could then table its programme before the Programme Committee, based on those guidelines.
Mr Gibson said that his party agreed with the guidelines suggested by Mr De Lange, and stated that the Portfolio Committee could work out a programme based on those guidelines. Mr Gibson further said that it would be necessary to allow sufficient time for the President to consider the Bill.
On the proposal of the Speaker, it was
AGREED: That -
- A special meeting of the National Assembly Programme Committee to be held on Tuesday, 19 March to consider the programme of the PC on Home Affairs with regard to the Immigration Bill (Speaker will consult and inform Members of details regarding the meeting).
- Mr Mokoena to convene a meeting of the PC on Home Affairs and agree on a programme. This programme to be sent to Speaker. The Speaker will circulate the programme as soon as she receives it.
- The National Assembly to consider the Bill in the week of 6 May.
- Committee should report on the Bill by the end of April. The Speaker to consult with the NCOP in regard to them expediting the Bill.
- The Minister should be given sufficient time to consider the Bill if any substantial changes are made.
- The President to be given sufficient time to consider the Bill before assenting to it.
- The PC on Home Affairs should be allowed to meet when necessary. The Committee Section to facilitate such meetings.
- The Chief Whips must allow Members who serve on the Committee time to complete their task.
- The Programme Committee will report to the House to formalise the programme of the Committee.
The meeting adjourned at 14: 40.
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