In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to finalise the Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill. The Bill was adopted with amendments as well as the Committee Report on the Bill. .
The absence of the Deputy Minister from some committee meetings was discussed. The Committee suggested it was a constitutional mandate for at least one executive member to attend committee meetings. Members also highlighted the delay in the meeting with the Minister on the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) and Special Master, which had been deferred for the past two years. This meeting was now scheduled for 29 November, before Parliament rose for the year.
The Chairperson stated that with the start of the 2022 World Cup, peace-loving global citizens and human rights activists were called upon this month to raise the Palestinian flag and flags of oppressed nations around the world. He hoped that Committee members would support the five African teams which had qualified for the World Cup. He recalled the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and hoped the World Cup would be back again in one of the 55 African countries.
After deliberations, if there were no further amendments, the Committee would adopt the Bill. It still needed to deal with Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) next week in the presence of the Special Master and the Minister. He noted apologies from Deputy Minister Capa, who was attending a Ministerial Conference. The Director General, Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, would join the meeting from 9-10am. Thereafter he had to d attend the Select Committee meeting.
Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill: proposed amendments
Ms Barbara Loots, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, read through the final list of Portfolio Committee proposed amendments (A-list) listed as B15A- 2021. She highlighted the changes made:
Clause 1 definitions had been changed, specifically, ‘prescribed’, ‘amended management systems’, and ‘audit’. They had deleted ‘indirect financial interest’ which had been moved to clause 2, under Minister Considerations. In clause 3, “in the opinion of the executive officer” had been deleted. Clause 4 had been changed only for clarity through consequential amendments. Clause 5 had a technical amendment with a semicolon added.
There was no discussion on the proposed amendments.
Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill: clause-by-clause adoption
Ms Loots noted the Bill had been renamed B15B-2021 to reflect the Portfolio Committee amendments. She went through the B-Bill clause-by-clause:
Clause 1: Definitions
The assignee definition had been removed, the audit definition had been streamlined and the management control system definition had been clarified.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 1.
Clause 2: Designation of executive officer and assignees
The 'personal or financial interest' amendment had been the biggest amendment.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 2.
Clause 3: Control over sale of products
‘In the opinion of the executive officer' and time limits to considerations of the assignee presenting the business plan had been made. These were technical amendments to make the public more comfortable with time period being defined and limited.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 3.
There were only consequential amendments to clarify audit and inspection. Some cross-references had been inserted and some deleted.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 4.
There was only a technical amendment with a semi-colon added.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 5.
Clause 6: Short title and commencement
No amendments had been made and the clause was as tabled.
Members agreed on and adopted clause 6.
The rest of Bill was the Memorandum on the Objects which did not need to be voted on. It had been “cleaned up a bit”, and would not be part of the Act after adopted by Parliament. The Memorandum was only guidelines for future research.
The Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill was adopted by the Committee.
Committee Report on Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill
The Committee Report, which noted that the Bill was adopted with amendments, was read through for the record and then adopted. The B Bill and Report would be sent to National Assembly for consideration.
The Committee adopted the minutes dated 8 November 2022.
Mr H Kruger (DA) said that point 4.3 of the minutes referring to the Committee engaging with agricultural commodity groups needed a timeline so that the Committee could begin engagement.
The Chairperson said that Mr Masipa had raised this and the point had been noted then. The best course of action would be considered as there were many commodity groups.
Mr N Masipa (DA) said point 4.2 on the absence of the Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha without apology at some Committee meetings, needed to discussed and the Committee take action. Perhaps the Chairperson could write to the Deputy Minister to understand why he was not attending meetings or sending apologies.
The Chairperson said that as chairperson, he had written to the Deputy Minister, as there needed to be at least one executive member of Cabinet needed to be present at Committee meetings. He opened the floor to the rest of the Committee to propose a course of action.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) said that the Committee should ask where it sat legally. It was a constitutional requirement for attendance of at least one executive member. His absence had an impact on the Committee’s work. All necessary actions needed to be taken, including writing to the Speaker of Parliament.
Ms Tshwete referred to point 4.1 about the meeting with Minister Didiza on the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) and Special Master. The term was ending the following week but the Secretariat had been tasked to find a suitable date for this meeting. The Minister had been deferring this meeting for the past two years.
The Chairperson replied that the Secretariat had requested the Minister to attend a meeting on ITB and Special Master on 29 November.
The Secretariat said that Deputy Minister Skwatsha’s absence was a technical matter. Apologies were received on the day of the meeting. Sometimes apologies were received later in the day due to technical challenges. Usually after three missed meetings, the absent person was written to. The Deputy Minister was deployed by the ANC in Parliament so the Speaker of the party should be consulted for guidance.
Mr Kruger said providing guidance for further action on 4.2, that the Chairperson could speak to the Tourism Portfolio Committee, which had experienced the same problem. That Committee had decided on certain steps, which seemed to be effective.
The Chairperson said that they should not defer work to other Committees as they were capable of finding a solution themselves.
Mr Masipa said that it was important to write to the Speaker as had been mentioned. It was a constitutional mandate that the Ministry needed to account to the Committee. This was the Committee’s first option.
The Chairperson said that the technical challenges needed to be considered when writing to the Speaker on the Deputy Minister’s absence.
The Committee adopted the minutes dated 15 November 2022.
The meeting was adjourned.
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