Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill: proposed amendments

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

15 November 2022
Chairperson: Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Committee convened in a virtual meeting to be briefed on the A-List of proposed changes that incorporated submissions by stakeholders that the Department had accepted for the Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill.

The Committee was satisfied with the changes made by the legal drafters but debated if it should include the phrase ‘juristic person’ as opposed to ‘person’ in the definition of assignee. The Committee eventually agreed that an assignee referred to a person, undertaking, body, institution, association, or board having knowledge of the product concerned or knowledge of the relevant management control systems with no direct or indirect personal or financial interest, as captured in the Amendment Bill, therefore there was no need to add ‘juristic person’.

The Committee will proceed to clause-by-clause deliberation on the B version of the Bill that incorporates these proposed changes.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed Parliamentary Legal Services led by Ms Barbara Loots and Ms Jacqueline Mello, and Ms Xoliswa Mdludlu from the Office of the State Law Advisor who would assist the Committee in deliberating on the Amendment Bill.

Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill (AList)
Ms Barbara Loots, Legal Advisor read through the working document of the Amendment Bill as made by the legal team that incorporated those oral and written submissions by stakeholders that the Department had accepted. This would give Members an idea of how the Bill as tabled would change according to the proposed amendments in the A List.

Ms M Tlhape (ANC) was comfortable with the changes made in the working document, especially to the definition of ‘assignee’ which was subject to a lot of debate in previous meetings.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) was satisfied with the amendments made and thanked the legal team for their good work.

Ms N Mahlo (ANC) was also satisfied with the changes and had no additions to make.

Mr N Masipa (DA) asked for clarity on ‘assignee’ because one of the issues raised was in section 3(a) where it says “the Minister may for the purposes of application of this Act or certain provisions thereof designate as an assignee, a person”. The stakeholders had said they did not want the ‘assignee’ to be a person because they would not want the job to not be done because of the absence of the person. He asked if the legal team had considered removing the reference to ‘a person’ and if they had not considered it, what were their reasons.

Mr N Capa (ANC) was satisfied with the changes made and had no additions to make.

Ms T Breedt (FF+) was also comfortable with the changes.

Ms B Tshwete (ANC) said the additions were a true reflection of what was spoken about in the previous meetings and was satisfied.

Nkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) was also satisfied with the changes made.

Mr H Kruger (DA) was satisfied with the changes but still felt that there was too much red tape involved in the legislation and said he would discuss it with the President’s Red Tape Unit to see where they could help reform some of the red tape in the Amendment Bill.

Legal Advisors response
Ms Loots was pleased that Members were generally satisfied with the amendments and noted that it was a collaborative effort between the Parliamentary Legal Advisors, the Office of the State Law Advisor and the Department. She referred Mr Masipa’s question to the Department, as they would have the practical and policy reasons why the change was not made.

Ms Xoliswa Mdludlu, Principal State Law Advisor: Office of the State Law Advisor, explained that ‘person’ was defined as a natural person and a juristic person in the Interpretation Act, so she was unsure if Mr Masipa was concerned on the natural part of the interpretation of ‘person’.

DALRRD response
Mr Dipepeneneng Serage, Acting Deputy Director-General: Agricultural Production Biodiversity and Disaster Management, DALRRD, replied the practicality of the matter was that even though it referred to a single person, the nature of the workload necessitated that the work was to be done by a body, an undertaking or an institution. The work could also be done by a single person, but the phrase ‘juristic person’ could be added in the Bill and that would be fine because the meaning would still be the same.

Ms Loots asked if the phrase ‘juristic person’ should be added to the changes.

The Chairperson said as per the explanation given assignee referred to both juristic or individual person, which covered the issue.

Mr Masipa proposed that the phrase ‘juristic person’ must be used to avoid a situation where an assignee would not be able to perform due to unforeseen circumstances, but if it was a juristic person, natural succession would take place.

Ms Tshwete did not understand Mr Masipa’s suggestion as it seemed to oppose what all Members were agreeing on.

Ms Mbabama raised a point of order to ask Ms Tshwete to withdraw her use of the phrase ‘le ndoda’ (this man) to refer to Mr Masipa and address him properly.

The Chairperson asked Ms Tshwete to withdraw.

Ms Tshwete withdrew.

Ms Tlhape said Members were in agreement that assignee referred to a person representing a body, institution, association or a designated board, but a juristic person would be a problem because it would refer to a specific individual. She pleaded for the definition to be left as it was.

Mr Masipa said a natural person in legal terms meant that once the person dies, their business would not continue and would either go into the estate or become liquidated, meaning that the person’s services as a service provider to institutions would stop. A juristic person as an institution continues to do its work. The person referred to in the Bill was unclear if it was a natural or juristic person and it was vague and could be open for interpretation. He proposed that ‘juristic person’ must be used so that business continuity would not be affected by the person either falling sick or dying.

The Chairperson said it was captured that an assignee referred to a person, undertaking, body, institution, association, or board having knowledge of the product concerned or knowledge of the relevant management control system with no direct or indirect personal or financial interest. The legal advisors and the Department had both clarified that a person meant both a natural and juristic person, which was the reason the majority of Members were comfortable with what was captured. He proposed that Members move on from that discussion to adopt the A List so the Committee could look into the B version that incorporated the proposed changes next week.

The Chairperson asked Members to consider and adopt the A List.

Ms Phumla Nyamza, Committee Secretary suggested that Members should not adopt the A List because normally they would consider the Bill clause-by-clause and then develop a final A List for adoption. She suggested that the Committee should go clause-by-clause through the Bill first and adopt the A list next week.

The Chairperson read the proposed amendments to the Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill for Members to consider. The Committee will consider the A List and adopt it and proceed to looking at the B Bill next week as suggested by the Committee Secretary.

Committee minutes
The Committee adopted the minutes dated 25 October 2022.

Matters arising
Mr Masipa said the Minister was supposed to brief the Committee on the Ingonyama Trust but that did not happen and asked that the matter should be followed up before Parliament rose for December holidays. He raised this because he had noted the absence of the Minister and the Deputy Ministers in the Committee meetings several times.

The Chairperson said the Committee was scheduled to meet with the Minister, the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB), and the Special Master while the Committee was in Johannesburg on 11 November. The Committee had to change its meeting from 2 to the 11 November because the Minister was not available, but that meeting was also not realised. He had requested the Secretariat to call for an urgent meeting with the Minister on that specific item because the Committee did not want to delay the meeting any further.

The Committee adopted the minutes dated 01 November 2022.

Matters arising
Ms Tshwete asked the Committee to note the absence of Deputy Minister Skwatsha in the Committee meeting and the fact that no apology was submitted once again.

The Chairperson noted the request and asked the Secretariat to write to the Executive that their absence in the Parliamentary Committee meetings continued to be noted.

Mr Masipa proposed that the Committee should consider engaging the agricultural commodity groups to try and understand their trading environments and challenges at the beginning of the next term, as the Committee was going into its fourth year of term without having met with them.

The Chairperson asked the number of commodity groups that existed.

Mr Masipa replied that there were about 11 commodity groups in the Western Cape and that provinces may differ in the number of groups they had.

The Chairperson thought about the total number of commodity groups that existed in the entire country if the Western Cape alone had about 11 and asked if the Committee had not done enough to get a broad presentation that represented all the product groups because the Committee would not have sufficient time to deal with all the groups individually. He believed the Committee followed a correct approach by using a broader and holistic approach to understanding the different commodity groups.

Ms Tshwete said the consultation approach used by the Committee was correct because going to individual commodity groups would delay and derail all the efforts of the Committee and what it was trying to achieve in terms of the Bill.

Ms Breedt said the stakeholders that commented on the Bill may have represented all the affected commodity groups, but in terms of the Committee’s engagements this Bill, it still had six or seven more Bills to consider and that was a lot of work. The Committee would still need to discuss how it would engage with those stakeholders and provide inputs to the Department on how to improve themselves and their services. She agreed partially with Mr Masipa that commodity groups needed to be consulted considering all the challenges facing agriculture. However, in terms of the Bill, she agreed with Ms Tshwete that the Committee had received inputs from the main stakeholders.

The Chairperson said the Committee was covered in terms of the Bill, but for any other engagements, the Committee would have to consider how best it could interact with the various commodity groups if its programme allows it.

The Chairperson thanked Members and the Parliamentary Legal Services, the Office of the State Law Advisor, as well as the Department for their assistance on the Amendment Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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