In a virtual meeting, the Committee considered its programme for next term. Members were taken through the public participation process around the Children’s Amendment Bill. National and provincial public hearings would be held. The Committee must ensure a closed meeting when interacting with the children and for the disclosure of information provided by them.
The Chairperson emphasised the importance of Members airing their views and concerns regrding the Bill in the Committee meetings and not other platforms. Parties should not threaten the processes with demands but should be open-minded and easy-going. The main focus is on the children and how to improve their lives, and not on party politics.
The Chairperson welcomed all Members. He said that South Africa is being rebuilt in various aspects, and that this Committee looks at a very important aspect, which is social development. New conditions in the country bring about new challenges, one of the biggest being the Children’s Amendment Bill, which needs to be completed. This Bill looks at the foster care system. The Chairperson mentioned the importance of parties voicing their concerns during the meetings, and not elsewhere. Parties should not represent other organisations and speak on behalf of them and should preferably not take such concerns to the media. The Bill needs to be discussed during the Committee meetings and everyone should express their views or concerns for consideration and debate. Parties should not threaten the processes with demands but should be open-minded and easy-going. The main focus is on the children and how to improve their lives, and not on party politics.
On behalf of the Committee, he wished a speedy recovery to Ms D Ngwenya (EFF).
Ms B Masango (DA) noted that as it was an internal meeting, she had some concerns she wished to air. She responded to the concern the Chairperson had made earlier about not using other platforms other than Committee meetings to address issues or express their views. She said that during the meetings, there is insufficient time to address all issues, and when letters are sent to the Chairperson regarding the issues, there is no response. She said that the result of this is that Members have to find other ways to express their concerns so that they may be considered.
The Chairperson said the concerns of Members need to be circulated and dealt with. Issues brought forward by Members need verification and consideration by the legal team before they are addressed.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) requested that a summary of the issues that are being responded to be provided to the Members for a briefing, before the legal opinion is provided. After the legal opinion is given, then it can be resubmitted to Members.
Draft Committee programme: term 2
The Committee secretary took Members through the programme.
She noted that on the agenda for 7 May 2021, Members want access to the summaries on the Children’s Amendment Bill [B18-2020]. The Committee Assistant had forwarded the oral submissions to Members and is to forward further oral submissions. The written submissions will be accessed via Uvimba [internal parliamentary platform] – a link will be provided.
There should be national public hearings first, instead of provincial public hearings. Most organisations responded to the national newspaper to provide their inputs or oral submissions. Priority should be given to national public hearings and stakeholders who had requested to make input should be invited. These hearings will be over a period of two weeks.
She noted the concern about the rights and protection of children with regards to the information provided to the Committee. The Committee must ensure a closed meeting when interacting with the children and for the disclosure of information provided by them.
The provincial public hearings will take place from 1 - 4 June 2021.
Some Members wanted to know the difference between the national public hearings and the provincial public hearings - national public hearings are where the Committee considers the submissions and the requests made by organisations and individuals, as advertised in the newspapers. Organisations and individuals were urged to send their submissions before the deadline, which was 27 November 2020. Around 69 submissions were sent by those who would like to attend the public hearings and in response to the newspaper advert. As a result, the Committee had termed the public hearing a national public hearing.
The provincial public hearings are when the Committee physically heads to the provinces to receive inputs. The Public Education Office and the Parliamentary Democracy Office would have assisted the Committee in mobilising organisations and individuals that attend. Workshops would be held to provide more insight on the Bill, allowing these organisations and individuals to be informed when making an input before the committee. The Public Education Offices sends out pamphlets so that those that missed the national public hearings can attend the provincial hearings to express their views.
For the provincial public hearings, a programme needs to be drafted.
The Committee would also be dealing with the BRRRs in term two.
In June, the National Assembly will be on a constituency period for ten weeks. It was proposed that this be reduced to seven weeks, to allow Members three weeks to finalise the Bill.
The legal team will be a part of the processes during the public hearings and the briefings so that they can identify all issues brought forward by the stakeholders.
Deliberations on the A-List will entail the Chairperson going over each clause individually and the Committee deliberating on whether they agree, disagree and so on. Requesting further guidance and assistance is allowed. The legal team will compose an amendment list that will contain all the amendments proposed.
Thereafter, the B-list, which is the Bill with the amendments made, is provided and considered.
Adoption of the Bill will have to be provided by the Committee, taking into account voting by Members. A report will have to be created to voice Members’ views. Timelines need to be set for the Committee for when to reintroduce the Bill.
The Committee Content Advisor went over the Fundraising Amendment Bill [B29-2020]. She said that the Department has four funds, which has been dormant for several years and is a concern for the Committee. The funds are related to Disaster Management and the Bill has been drafted so that these four funds can be reduced to one fund that deals with Disaster Management. The fund needs to be active and audited.
Ms van der Merwe supported the decision of having the national public hearings first and then the provincial public hearings. She was pleased with the submissions being accessible to Members and the initiative taken towards protecting the rights of the children. The programme will be congested and it is important to consider that there needs to be time for department to address certain issues, such as the Department of Justice and so on. Lastly, when will the Department brief Members on the foster care backlog and the legal solutions for this?
Ms Masango was grateful to the response made to her concerns. She mentioned that her main focus was that she needed clarity on the Children’s Amendment Bill, and a legal solution with regards to that.
The Content Advisor had clarified that the numbers for the submissions fluctuate around 2 000.
Response to Ms Bridget Masango (MP) on ECD provisions in the Children’s Amendment Bill [B18-2020]
The Committee went over the response.
The Members considered the response.
The Committee will consider and adopt the minutes in the next meeting due to time constraints.
The meeting was adjourned.
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