Sectoral response to energy crisis & Animals Protection Amendment Bill: DALRRD briefing, with Ministry
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
24 February 2023
Chairperson: Mr Z Mandela (ANC)
The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (the Committee) met virtually for a briefing by the Ministerial Task Team on the sectoral responses to the energy crises. Additionally, the Committee was briefed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill.
The task team comprising of government, industry participants in the agriculture sector, and energy specialists was established to continuously monitor the impact of load shedding in the sector and its ability to ensure food security.
The Committee was concerned that the proposed interventions to alleviate the challenges of load shedding would not be applicable to smallholder and subsistence farmers. The Department assured the Committee that engagements about solutions included all farmers and farmer associations at the provincial, district, and local levels. The analysis presented by the Ministerial Task Team was based on the input received from provincial structures.
The delay in finalising the Private Member’s Bill on animal protection was of concern to the Committee. The Bill which was introduced in 2021, seeks to amend a section of the Act to prohibit the testing of a cosmetic or a cosmetic ingredient on animals. But the presentation by the Department revealed a misunderstanding of the issue and the process to be followed. The Department was advised to consult experts and existing research material on the matter. The Department agreed to present the Committee with a new position based on further interactions and a review of research material.
Members were in agreement that its oversight responsibility was being compromised by the late submission of documents by the Department. The presentations were received shortly before the start of the meeting thus not affording Members the opportunity to adequately prepare for meaningful engagement with the Department. The Department explained that events that occurred in the days prior to the meeting necessitated an update of the information in the presentation. The announcement of incentives and rebates by the Minister of Finance and the proposed interventions by ESKOM required further consultation with stakeholders in the sector which took place in the evening before this meeting. The updates were necessary to ensure that a shared view of the agricultural sector is presented to the Committee.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Minister Thoko Didiza, Deputy Minister Zoleka Capa, the Director-General (DG), and officials of the Department. He voiced his frustration about having received the presentations nearly two hours before the meeting which was defeating the purposes of preparation and engagement in the meeting. The Committee had requested an engagement with the Ministry on matters of importance that were impacting farmers. Therefore, Members needed to be adequately informed in preparation of any possible oversight meeting with stakeholders and affected farmers. He requested the Minister to ensure that documents are submitted timely in the future. Presentations for Tuesday meetings should be submitted by close of business on Fridays and presentations for Friday meetings should be submitted by close of business on Tuesdays. This would allow ample time for Members to read the documents in preparation for the meetings.
Mr N Masipa (DA) raised a point of order.
The Chairperson asked if the point of order related to his opening remarks.
Mr Masipa replied that it was about the late receipt of the presentations.
The Chairperson said he had noted the Members who wanted to comment but he appealed for patience and discipline when engaging on important matters. The farmers wanted to hear what the Department and the Committee were doing to address their plight. The Committee and the Department, which was represented by the DDG, had been briefed by Legal Services on the Animals Protection Amendment Bill. The Committee was looking forward to receiving feedback on the matter from the Department. But first, he allowed Members the opportunity to comment.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) echoed the sentiments of the Chairperson about receiving the documents late. In a document that she sent to the Committee about the impact of load shedding on agricultural farms, she had raised awareness that 20% of South Africa’s maize is under irrigation. If not for irrigation farming, the country would not have enough maize. She found it frustrating that the Department was not taking the Committee seriously and thanked the Chairperson for making it clear that this attitude was causing frustration. She suggested that the Minister should refer to the vaccine shortage in her opening remarks. The Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP) originally indicated that vaccines would be available by 20 December 2022 but in a subsequent letter, the date was postponed to the end of February 2023. But at the end of February, farmers and breeders are still experiencing vaccine shortages.
The Chairperson said he thought Ms Breedt wanted to address procedural matters. He advised her that issues of programming are dealt with by the Management Committee which meets weekly with the Secretariat, content advisors, and researchers. All urgent matters are prioritised and dealt with on Fridays. The first term programme was full because of the upcoming budget vote debates. When the matter of the impact of load shedding on farmers was brought to the attention of the Committee, it was agreed that the Ministry, together with the Task Team and Department would be invited for a briefing in this regard. He appealed for patience while matters are being prioritised. A date would be provided when the OBP, together with the Ministry and Department, would be invited to engage the Committee on the vaccine shortage.
Mr Masipa remarked that since 2019 Members had been complaining about documentation arriving late. He suggested that it would be appropriate to ask Members whether to proceed or postpone the meeting. Effective oversight is being compromised without being properly prepared to raise questions. He was not ready to proceed and asked that the meeting be postponed.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) thanked the Chairperson for registering the displeasure on behalf of all Members about the Department’s failure to make documents available on time. Members are being frustrated in exercising oversight responsibilities without access to documents for preparation. He agreed with Mr Masipa that in order for the Department to have some respect for the Committee, it would be appropriate to send them packing. The Department should improve on how they relate to the Committee by ensuring that documents are submitted on time. Members would be sitting ducks in a meeting with no well-resourced questions or input on both presentations. He acknowledged the urgency of the matters relating to the impact of load shedding on the agricultural sector. But requested that the meeting be rescheduled in order to have a meaningful discussion instead of steamrolling the process for the sake of compliance.
Ms B Tshwete (ANC) said although she was also concerned about getting the documents late, she pleaded with the Committee that the matters were urgent and needed to be discussed and solutions must be found which the Department must implement. The Committee felt undermined and disrespected by the Department. But the needs of the farmers were more important than the feelings of Members. Internal processes could be dealt with at a later stage. The Committee must provide leadership and solutions to the affected farmers.
Mr H Kruger (DA) agreed with the motion to postpone the meeting. The late submission of documents was a government problem and not only a problem of this Committee or the Small Business Committee of which he is a member. It seemed that the officials were on a slow strike. The Committee was unable to provide informed solutions without access to the documents. He proposed that Members listen to the presentations and set a new date to engage and provide solutions.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) welcomed the strong words that the Chairperson expressed to the Department. The late submission of documents should not be happening because timelines had been agreed to. The sector was waiting for a response on these important matters but the government had been dead silent. The constituencies wanted to hear from the Department because of the National State of Disaster declaration. She pleaded that Members listen to the Department and engage further at a later stage. She condemned the late receipt of the report but felt that the Committee should not disappoint people who are waiting for answers based on the meeting that the Minister had met with the agricultural sector.
The Chairperson stated that the meeting was a continuation of the meeting of Tuesday, 21 February 2023 regarding the Animals Protection Amendment Bill. Officials of the Department were present when the Committee dealt with the presentation by Adv Swart and Adv van der Merwe. Questions were then asked of the Department and today was the opportunity for the Department to respond to the questions. The presentation on the impact of load shedding on farmers is an urgent matter which was brought to the attention of the Committee. The matter had been prioritised to be dealt with today. This was work-in-progress because Members had expressed the need to meet with stakeholders. A thorough understanding of the meeting between the Ministry and the sector was necessary before the Committee meet with stakeholders. The Minister has taken the invitation seriously and invited the Task Team to provide the information needed that could assist constituencies. Should Members still feel the need to engage stakeholders after this meeting, then an engagement with the work of the Task Team is necessary. He called on Members to exercise caution and proceed with the meeting and not to engage in wasteful and fruitless expenditure. The Committee requested the Minister to take note of the serious concerns about the late submission of documents and invited her to proceed with her opening remarks.
Minister’s opening remarks
The Minister welcomed the summary by the Chairperson and took note of the issues about late documentation. She explained that the documents on the energy briefing were sent on the day of the meeting because the Task Team met with the agricultural sector the previous day to get input on the way forward. It was not because the Department was not taking the Committee seriously, or to undermine the oversight work of the Committee. But the Department had to report back to the sector about the work of the Task Team and appraise them of today’s meeting. She apologised to Members and hoped that the clarification would be understood.
She remarked that in January 2023, the Ministry and Department met with farmer organisations and agri-business enterprises to assess the impact of the energy situation in the agricultural sector. At the time, ESKOM announced stage six load shedding without indicating when it would lapse. The Department was concerned about the impact this would have on the sector, particularly on food security. It was deemed necessary to convene a meeting to consider short-term interventions to enable the sector to continue to operate under the challenging conditions. The Agribusiness Chamber informed the Department of the survey that they had commissioned to assess the impact of load shedding amongst their constituencies. The meeting agreed to extend the survey to the entire sector including smallholder, subsistence, and commercial farmers to determine the scale of the impact on all farms and to devise appropriate interventions. The meeting further agreed to have an immediate engagement with ESKOM to explore the options of minimal disruptions to the production cycles, similar to what was done for the health sector where a level of curtailment and load reduction had been managed. Short and medium-term measures were considered, including the co-generation of electricity by companies or individual farmers, to assist producers and agri-businesses. The Task Team was set up to do this work and would be giving a presentation on the work done to date. A meeting was also held with ESKOM management, led by the former CEO, Mr Andre de Ruyter. The outcome of the meeting was shared with the sector and a discussion was held about solutions to ameliorate the problems. ESKOM indicated that they had engaged individual farmer organisations and the agri-business sector on specific interventions. One of the options is managing load reduction by agreement between ESKOM and producers where irrigation infrastructure is concerned. ESKOM highlighted some of the challenges in relation to particular sectors that are embedded on municipal lines which presented difficulty in isolating such businesses. It was agreed that ESKOM would consider the importance of food security with any intervention it was implementing. ESKOM undertook to assist at provincial level together with the Task Team, farmer organisations and businesses in order to manage the situation appropriately. A consultation meeting was held with members of executive councils (MECs) to assess what work had been done in the provinces in order to create some alignment. It was agreed to collectively manage the situation continuously so that interventions could be in sync. The Department reported to the agricultural sector on the interventions and responses received from ESKOM. Tax matters in the National Treasury statement (budget speech) were taken into consideration to ascertain how farmers could benefit both on the rebates and on solar installation concessions. She handed over the proceedings to the Task Team, led by the DG, to present the detail of the work done thus far.
The Chairperson indicated that the Animals Protection Amendment Bill was the first presentation on the agenda but since the Minister had addressed the ESKOM issue, the Task Team should proceed. He would return to the Bill thereafter.
Task Team presentation
Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi, DG, DALRRD, remarked that this engagement was pinned on interactions initiated by the Minister in formulating the Task Team which comprised of stakeholders in the industry. The analysis and surveillance in the agricultural sector are being done by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) together with the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC). The Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz) observes the general issues of sector engagement with the DALRRD. The Task Team is aligned on a broader level with sector associations including at commercial, small holder and subsistence level on energy issues. The Task Team would present a timeline of work done in terms of the process that was followed.
The DG profusely apologised for the late submission of the presentations. As Chairperson of the Task Team, he offered an explanation for the delay and what had happened during the course of the past week. Firstly, the Minister of Finance announced a number of incentives and rebates, factoring in the just transition interventions. Additionally, the Task Team had been engaging ESKOM on a number of issues. The proposals by ESKOM required further engagement with the sector before they could be presented to the Committee. Lastly, the engagement with the sector took place at 18:00 on the day prior to this meeting to ensure that the shared view of the sector is reflected in the presentation. The Task Team was required to reconcile all the issues after the sector meeting and was therefore only able to submit the presentations in the morning before the start of this meeting. Dr Sifiso Ntombela would be painting a picture of how the analysis was done and the interventions drafted to date based on pronouncements by the Minister of Finance.
Dr Sifiso Ntombela, Chief Economist, NAMC, said the process flow undertaken by the Task Team included consultations with industry experts, the Department as well as engagements with colleagues at provincial and local government level. The presentation contained the output, analysis and risks that load shedding was posing to the agricultural sector in terms of food security. The Task Team shared an analysis of practical solutions that had been tested by the industry as well as the finalisation of outcomes of engagements with ESKOM and the Minister.
The outcome of the survey on the impact of the electricity crisis on the sector revealed the following:
Smallholders are spending an average of R10 000 and commercial farmers R100 000 per month on diesel;
Irrigated sectors, e.g. fruit, vegetable and annual crops may be affected by lower yields;
Carry-over stocks and dryland production could buffer availability of produce;
Dairy and poultry sectors have been highly impacted although the evidence was insufficient to conclude on the effect on imports; and
Temporary shortages of animal feeds and packaging may occur.
Solutions with ESKOM and Municipalities included the following proposals:
Load curtailment for customers with dedicated supply infrastructure;
A review of the load shedding schedule to accommodate the needs of the majority of customers based on the impact or number of commercial customers;
Allow municipalities to do their own switching to accommodate customers in municipal supply areas;
Reconfigure the network to allow isolation where possible; and
Install microgrids, PV’s and battery containers for critical loads during harvesting, irrigation, and refrigeration periods.
Ms Tlhape remarked that the presentation had opened her eyes to the real challenges. She asked if provinces had met with farmers to discuss the challenges and to provide alternative solutions. She suggested that existing plans needed to be reviewed based on the budget speech. She wanted to know what the impact was of the work done by the Task Team in dealing with the energy crisis. She asked about the specific challenges that rural farmers were facing and enquired how the Department would ensure that rural farmers are supported given the impact of load shedding.
Mr Masipa noted the R7.6 billion spent by farmers on electricity but said the analysis lacked a breakdown of the fuel levy costs. He felt there was no commitment to consider exemption on rebates for the Road Accident Fund and the general fuel levy. He welcomed the input about using methane to generate electricity. He asked if ESKOM had been engaged about incentives for the programme. He asked the Minister to share her insights about the meeting with the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy on solutions to the electricity issue. The grid is problematic, especially in the Northern Cape, because the capacity is not strong enough to absorb the energy that Namibia is selling to ESKOM. He offered a correction of the statement made about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He stated that it was a war and not a conflict.
The Chairperson replied to Mr Masipa that there are many conflicts around the world including the war in Palestine that should not be ignored.
Mr Matiase cautioned Mr Masipa to not debate the issue about Russia and Ukraine on this platform. He sought clarity on the term ‘properly planned load shedding approach’. He expressed his concerns about electricity and diesel costs that were impacting negatively on the agricultural sector. Given the load shedding crisis due to poor planning and infrastructure neglect, he proposed a revisit of the form of subsidy that was phased out in 2000. An appropriate subsidy should be considered to meet farmers halfway. In the absence of immediate interventions to help farmers, he asked if the option of using municipal power stations could be explored while long-term solutions are being investigated.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) wanted to know what incentives were being considered to support farmers and how effective it would be. She enquired about the funding options available to farmers affected by load shedding and how the funds would be distributed to address the needs of farmers. She asked if the Department had been engaging stakeholders and academics to explore funding options. She wanted to know if the Land Bank was on board to help farmers. She sought clarity on the role of stakeholders and academics in addressing the electricity crises.
Ms Breedt remarked that the presentation lacked a breakdown of specific detail, e.g. about livestock, grain, maize and soya. She asked if the Department consulted academics in gathering information. She proposed that the Department consult the University of the Free State (UFS), which has an excellent faculty of agricultural studies. Over the past ten years, the average maize usage for cattle and human consumption decreased from 11.5 million tons to 10.6 million tons. She proposed regular updates because she was concerned that the plans were not concrete due to the absence of deadlines. She asked for detail pertaining to the curtailment application and sought clarity on whether curtailment was a concrete plan of action that ESKOM had agreed to. She drew attention to the 1980s when ESKOM supplied electricity to farmers. She asked what the feasibility was of exempting farmers from the high levels of load shedding. Given the chaos with the voucher system, she sought clarity on who would be responsible for compiling the provincial lists for curtailment. She feared that the focus would be on emerging farmers only while load shedding was affecting all types of farmers including commercial and large-scale farmers who are important role players in the sector. The Minister of Finance announced solar panel tax incentives of up to R20 000 [Edit: R15 000] for households. The amount was not sufficient for farmers who are using large-scale cooling chambers for their produce. She asked if more detail was available about the solar rebate for the agricultural sector. She enquired about the timeframes for tariffs. Profit margins are reduced if input costs are spent on fertilisers. She reiterated her requests for regular updates and clear-cut timelines.
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) felt the presentation was understating the impact of load shedding in the agricultural sector. He enquired about interactions with related industries such as mining and steel companies at the centre of the agriculture sector in terms of supplying machinery and mechanisation. Engineering companies have been unable to provide manufacturing equipment due to the continuous load shedding and have started to retrench workers. The Department should ensure that related industries are not left out of the discussion.
Ms Tshwete asked where and when the proposed solutions had been implemented and what the timeframes were. A lot of businesses had been affected by load shedding over the past two years due to the delay in implementing the solutions. The tendency is to implement national programmes without consideration of the provinces in terms of accountability and monitoring. She asked how the gap between national and provincial levels could be closed. She enquired if or when micro-grids would be installed. She argued that everyone must be prioritised because load shedding was affecting small, medium, and large businesses as well as households.
Mr Kruger said he now had a better understanding of the solutions. He was disappointed that small businesses were not part of the engagements because they could play a big part in electricity supply. He asked if the formation of cooperatives by farmers and small businesses in small dorpies formed part of the solutions. He appealed to the Department to engage small businesses to be part of the solution. He asked if a cost analysis had been done and what the possible relief would be for farmers. He asked the Minister if she supported zero-rating on poultry meat.
Adv S Swart (ACDP) thanked the Committee, the Minister, and Department for doing their utmost in processing this Bill. He suggested that it might be helpful to have a joint meeting with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to better understand the ESKOM challenges. He enquired if the Department was giving input into the National State of Disaster on electricity. He asked if the Minister was able to bring relief to farmers to ensure food security.
The Chairperson welcomed the input and presentation and undertook to consider the proposal for a joint sitting with the Mineral Resources and Energy Committee. The presentation enhanced the Committee’s understanding of the challenges that farmers and farming communities were facing. He thanked the farming formations for listening to the challenges and for assisting with interventions and crafting the way forward. He appreciated the engagement by Members although the documents had arrived late. He deemed it necessary to prioritise the plight of constituencies represented in Parliament and to hold the Department and government accountable. He asked why domestic prices remained at higher levels while global prices have been decreasing. Given the well-known infrastructure challenges at ports, he wanted to know what the impact of load shedding was on the citrus industry in accessing the European market. He asked what the strategy would be for engagements with ESKOM to resolve the impact of load shedding on commodities and to ensure that the need of all farmers are met. He enquired about the current status of the drought in the Northern Cape and the impact thereof on food security. He asked if relief measures were available to farmers in that region in terms of cooling facilities for their produce. He stated that regulations for European exports would be adhered to and asked the Minister to continuously engage the relevant authorities. He requested the Department to also respond in writing to the questions. The Committee would proceed to engage with farmers if necessary. He requested Ms Tlhape to take over proceedings when he leaves for Friday prayers.
The Minister sought clarity on whether all responses should be given in writing.
The Chairperson replied that he would appreciate written responses after the meeting to assist in mapping the way forward and in case there was a need to engage farmers and farmer organisations.
Mr Wandile Sihlobo, Chief Economist, Agbiz, confirmed that the Task Team had consulted all provincial structures and farmer formations. Smallholder farmers are being supported in all interventions. The Task Team would be engaging SARS on the new measures announced in the budget speech. He explained that ‘properly planned load shedding’ considers the time during the day when farmers have the highest need for electricity usage. For example, more load shedding is applied during the day than in the evening. The practice had not yet been fully implemented but engagements with ESKOM and the Department were ongoing. He confirmed that the Task Team had been engaging academics including himself, who holds a senior lecturer position at Stellenbosch University, and his colleagues from Fort Hare University. The Task Team was engaging all farmer associations to ensure that interventions are applicable to all farmers. Curtailment had been implemented in Gauteng and Free State but might be suspended in areas that have not been technically connected. Food prices have increased at a moderate rate compared to other parts of the world. But food price inflation was causing an increase in prices in South Africa while prices were declining elsewhere. This was due to the impact of load shedding that had not yet been factored in as well as the higher commodity prices and meat production. The three-month lag period must also be taken into account. Despite all the challenges, the agricultural sector was still expecting a decent produce at a new record of R13 billion dollars compared to the R12.4 billion dollars in 2021. He acknowledged the role of Transnet in assisting with the transportation of the produce.
Dr Mmatlou Kalaba, Senior Analyst and Executive Director, Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy(BFAP), said the consultation with academia could be expanded but it was dependent on the availability of members. The National State of Disaster regulations had not yet been made public. He explained that curtailment could not be applied across the board but it is being used in the mining sector where up to 90% of substations might be used by mines. The exemption of farmers was highly unlikely because ESKOM needed to protect the grid. He agreed with the proposal for a joint sitting with the DMRE and other stakeholders. The cold storage problem was making it difficult to comply with the high standard of EU regulations and to maintain export markets. He stated that different areas and activities require different interventions, depending on the geographical spread. Therefore, there was not going to be one solution for the entire agricultural sector.
Mr Dipepeneneng Serage, Acting DDG: Agricultural Production, Biosecurity, and Disaster Management, DALRRD, said the Department would be exploring the proposal to reconsider the subsidies with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The solar panel subsidy announced by the Minister of Finance was R15 000 and not R20 000 as referred to by Ms Breedt. The Department was guiding the curtailment process based on the curtailment application form provided by ESKOM. He confirmed the Department was dealing with the drought in the Northern Cape.
Deputy Minister Capa was satisfied that the engagements and briefings had been properly represented in this meeting. The questions from Members further clarified matters.
Minister Didiza agreed to provide more detail in the written responses. She was not sure whether provinces, other than the Free State, have held constituency meetings. The Department had meetings with farmer associations, including the Citrus and Fruit Growers sectors in the Agricultural Chamber. ESKOM provided the Task Team with contact persons on the provincial level that farmers could engage with at the provincial, district, and local levels. The analysis done by the Task Team is based on the input received from provincial structures. The engagement with the Minister of the DMRE and National Treasury had been helpful to facilitate direct engagement with ESKOM. She confirmed that the Department would be giving input to the National Disaster Management Committee. She advised that the matter of zero-rating on food items required engagement with National Treasury and the DTIC. The Department would report back to the Committee in writing and committed to providing regular updates.
Ms Tlhape asked for the written responses to be submitted by Friday, 3 March 2023. She called on the Department to present the Animals Protection Amendment Bill for discussion.
Animals Protection Amendment Bill: DALRRD presentation
Mr Serage said the Department had listened to the presentation by Adv Swart. The Bill seeks to amend a section to prohibit the testing of a cosmetic or ingredients of a cosmetic on an animal. The Department was mindful that the Bill should not encroach on other pieces of legislation but felt limited to engage meaningfully because the Socio-economic Impact Assessment System (SEIAS) report had not been made available. The fear was that the proposed amendment might open up unintended consequences and affect exports that are based on reciprocal relationships with other countries. The country compared favourably to other countries in terms of cruelty to animals. On a scale of A to G, South Africa had an E ranking. He asked that the Committee consider the amendment realistically and suggested that there are alternative ways of dealing with the matter. He was concerned about a serious pushback about the protection of animals because current practices were not animal friendly. Food security might be impacted should the amendment be implemented without the sector being ready. He pleaded for the Bill not to proceed in the current format. The section might be amended within the Health Department in terms of the definition of cosmetics without affecting food security. He requested access to the SEIAS report to determine if the economic impact had been considered and to study the input from the public in order to get a better understanding of the cosmetic industry.
Ms Tlhape requested Members to engage with the briefing from the Department.
Adv Swart indicated that he would want to correct a few issues mentioned in the presentation.
Ms Tlhape Chairperson replied that Adv Swart would be given an opportunity to do so after the engagement by Members.
Mr N Capa (ANC) asked how the Bill would address the concerns regarding the safety and ethics of cosmetics and if consumers would have confidence in the products if it were not tested.
Mr Masipa said the Bill must be expedited and should not be allowed to gather dust. He asked what current jobs might be impacted by the amendment. He was concerned that not enough consultation had been done because organisations such as the SPCA had been excluded from the working group. He asked for an update on the status of and timelines for completion of the Bill. He suggested that experience to deal with the technical aspects of the Bill is required. He asked why the Bill had not been finalised according to the timelines in the November 2021 statement.
Ms Breedt was quite disappointed about receiving the presentation late and felt that the Department had been misinterpreting the Bill. She asked for an update on the Animal Welfare Bill and the tender process. She requested a response to the resolution about captive live breeding. She sought clarity on the statement that writing cosmetic testing into law, i.e. not having testing done on animals, could result in unintended consequences as mentioned by the Department. She argued that the Department was incorrect about the unintended consequences because the amendment focused specifically on South African products and would not negatively impact on imports. South Africa was doing shockingly poorly in terms of animal cruelty because an E in school represents a fail. She argued that the Department was making incorrect assumptions about the Bill and that it would have no impact on jobs. She asked for an explanation on how cosmetic testing would impact livestock and food security.
Mr Matiase welcomed the proposed amendment and was encouraged that it was initiated by a Member of Parliament who is not a member of this Committee. He asked why Adv Swart did not refer to the 1991 attempt to amend the Bill. As a farm boy, he is aware of the distinction between animals bred for human consumption and those in the wilderness such as the Springbok from which biltong is made. He suggested that Adv Swart likes biltong. A third category is domesticated animals used as pets. He wanted to know for which animal category the Bill is intended and if it was for the purpose of cosmetics, animal welfare, or the general health of animals. He asked if the many pieces of existing legislation dealing with animal welfare had been considered or if it had been repealed. He wanted to know if it was not the responsibility of the Department to provide the socio-economic impact assessment instead of expecting adv Swart to present a report. He argued that it was the duty of officials to assist Members of Parliament.
Mr Mahlo asked what impact the Bill would have on international trade with countries that are still allowing cosmetic testing on animals. He enquired about the strategies to address potential conflict with trading partners. He wanted to know how the export of South African cosmetic products and economic growth would be impacted by the Bill.
Mr Kruger was very disappointed in the presentation because he was expecting the Department to provide direction to make informed decisions on the Bill. The presentation did not convince him that the Department had a grasp of the topic.
Ms Tlhape sought clarity on who’s responsibility it was to provide the SEIAS and public participation reports. She found the Bill confusing because it made reference to aspects of protection, welfare and legislative processes. She asked if the Bill was similar to the previous Bill of Ms Dudley. She wanted to know if public participation was a requirement for this Bill and if cultural and traditional issues had been considered. She asked if slaughtering of animals constitute cruelty and if the Bill would stand the test if taken to traditional leaders. She enquired if the issues raised by Adv Swart are covered in other pieces of legislation and what the process would be if the Bill encroached on other pieces of legislation.
Adv Swart appreciated the opportunity to respond and undertook to also provide a detailed written response. He stated that the Bill had been gazetted and was in the hands of the Committee. He suggested that the Department might need to understand the full implication of the Bill. The intention of the Bill was very narrow, i.e. to prevent cosmetic testing on animals. It was incorrect to conflate the issue with caged chickens and dehorning of cows. The Bill had the support of 57 animal welfare organisations. He advised that the previous Bill of Ms Dudley had lapsed in the last Parliament. He subsequently introduced a much narrower Bill. From his perspective, the SEIAS was not a requirement. He would make the memorandum available which contained an extensive list of all consultations. More countries have been banning animal testing. It is reported that alternative methods were creating more jobs. Modern methods do not require animal testing. The amendment did not relate to animal cruelty and food security and had no impact on traditional rituals. He had been advised that the 1991 amendments were no longer relevant and had no impact on the Bill. He argued that the narrow focus would enhance the international standing of South Africa. He was concerned about the lack of progress and advised the Committee to call on experts should Members require further clarification. He appreciated the input and reiterated that the Bill would not impact food security or international trade agreements. Instead, it would benefit exports and align with China who was also passing similar legislation. He was looking forward to further engagement but was concerned about the delay in the process.
Ms Tlhape called on Adv van der Merwe to present her input from a legal perspective.
Adv Charmaine van der Merwe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, Constitutional and Legal Services Office, explained that the SEIAS report was only applicable to an Executive Bill. It is not a requirement in the case of a Private Members or Committee Bill initiated by Parliament. The role of the Department is to advise the Committee on policy direction. She found it strange that the Department was not able to advise the Committee. She confirmed that the Bill of Ms Dudley was no longer applicable. Proposals for public participation can be made. In terms of National Assembly rules, the Committee must consider all submissions received but it is not a requirement to include all submissions. She advised that Committees are allowed to call for additional comments and to conduct their own public participation processes. The prohibition of testing of cosmetic ingredients on animals are not dealt with in any other piece of legislation.
Mr Serage said it would be prudent to ask for further engagement on the matter with Adv Swart. The Department would revert to the Committee to present a new position based on further interactions and a review of relevant documents.
The Minister agreed to the bilateral meeting with Adv Swart. She asked Legal Services to share the public comments with the Department for a better understanding of the matter. She undertook to return with the policy direction on the Animal Welfare Act and how best to treat the Private Member’s Bill.
Ms Tlhape said the Department should return at an appropriate time to inform the Committee about the progress after engaging with Adv Swart. She asked that the Department note and consider all concerns and responses.
Mr Masipa said the presentation on the draft Bill raised more questions. He asked that the follow up briefing be placed on the agenda.
Ms Tlhape requested the Secretariat to capture Mr Masipa’s request. All matters of importance should be slotted in on the agenda to be dealt with on Fridays. She thanked Adv Swart, Adv van der Merwe and the Department for taking the Committee through the process. She was hopeful that consensus would be reached at some point.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mandela, Nkosi ZM
Breedt, Ms T
Capa, Mr N
Capa, Ms RN
Didiza, Ms AT
Kruger, Mr HC
Mahlatsi, Ms KD
Mahlo, Ms NP
Masipa, Mr NP
Matiase, Mr NS
Montwedi, Mr Mk
Tlhape, Ms ME
Tshwete, Ms B
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