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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 March 2001
SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICE BILL:
Chairperson: Ms GL Mahlangu
Documents handed out:
South African Weather Service Bill [B54-2000]
The Committee considered the remainder of the proposed amendments to the South African Weather Service Bill. After certain amendments were added to the document, the Committee adopted a motion of desirability.
Ms N Mkhwanazi from the Department continued to outline the Department's proposed amendments to the South African Weather Service Bill [B54-2000].
Mr J Stander (Public Service Association) asked why section 197 was not taken into account for the transfer of staff to the Chief Directorate. He thought there should be some sort of protection for staff to ensure that there is no retrenchment or reduction of staff for a certain period.
Ms N Mkhwanazi replied that the point had been raised in the previous meeting and the members of NEHAWU had made a submission that the legislation should include protection from retrenchments of existing employees for a certain period of time. S197 protects the employees of an enterprise that is a "going concern". She said it is debatable that the Weather Service is in effect a going concern. The substance and essence of section 197 of the Labour Relations Act has been provided for in section 17 of the Weather Service Bill.
Mr Stander based his second question on section 17(3)(e), asking if it was not possible for the government to transfer all accrued leave benefits to the new Weather Service to ensure that the new Weather Service did not take over huge burdens with the new dispensation.
The Chairperson said the matter had been dealt with in the last meeting and asked if the Department could answer the question.
Mr GC Schulze (Dept. of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) replied that the payout of leave in this regard should be a provision that is budgeted for, and must be applied in a normal budgetary allocation. The Bill could not in any way prescribe such a thing.
Ms JA Semple (DP) asked what Department is referred to in section 20(3).
Ms Mkhwanazi replied that it is the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Mr W Le Roux asked what happens if the Airlines Association is of the opinion that it is being charged exorbitantly high prices, is there anywhere else they can turn to for weather service information?
Mr Schulze replied that this is the reason behind the establishment of the Regulatory Committee; its function is that of an independent body that can look into the matter.
Ms Mkhwanazi referred to the amended section 26. The initial Bill had an extra clause to the effect that damages could be claimed if a loss was as a result of malicious or gross negligence. The Department dispensed with this proviso because it is already covered by an ordinary delictual claim in which one has to prove malicious or gross negligence.
Mr Sokhela (State Law Advisor) added that it was felt that the proviso to section 26 was superfluous and that it had to be removed.
Mr SN Swart (ACDP) asked for clarity on why there is a requirement of gross negligence. He suggested that negligence would be sufficient to found liability in delict.
Ms Mkhwanazi agreed with Mr Swart's suggestion. However, she said that the weather information is full of errors. This is what precipitated the requirement for a higher standard of care.
Mr Swart said he fully appreciates that weather predictions are not precise. However, the current formulation in the amended section 26 excludes all liability for any damage and loss even where there is pure negligence, but in the absence of gross negligence.
Ms Mkhwanazi replied that the object of the section is to limit liability, not to exclude it. The courts will have a large scope of interpretation of this section as to the extent of liability. The outcome of each case will depend on its own facts.
Ms Semple asked for reasons behind the exclusion of the word "aviation" in section 27(b) of the Department's proposed amendments. The original Bill provides that "the Minister may, after consultation with the Board, make regulations regarding fees for the provision of aviation and maritime meteorological services".
Ms Mkhwanazi replied that the exclusion of this word has been a result of the Department's proposal that section 19(6) be deleted from the Bill.
Ms Semple referred to the amendment of Item 5 of Schedule1 and asked who pays for the service and how much they pay.
Ms Mkhwanazi replied that these are public good services and, in terms of how the legislation is structured, these services are free to the general public.
Mr RK September (ANC) asked if clause 13 that had been added to Schedule 1 of the Department's proposed amendments could also include the provision of services for fishermen.
Ms Mkhwanazi replied that would be discussed with the Minister and with the Department. She finally referred to Schedule 1 Clause 10 of the Department's Draft document and said that it has been amended to read "The provision of meteorological and functional related training in partnership with higher education institutions". The reason for excluding the word "tertiary" is in line with the fact that this word has in the past excluded Technikons. Recent legislation on education uses higher education as an inclusive term that includes all higher education institutions including Technikons.
Formal Consideration of the Bill
The Chairperson suggested that since there were no further questions on the Bill, the Committee had to proceed to the formal consideration of the Bill. The Chairperson read out the motion of desitability and the Committee adopted it.
The Committee then went through the Bill clause by clause:
Chapter 1, clause 1 - agreed.
Chapter 2, clause 2 as amended - agreed.
Clause 3. as amended - agreed.
Clause 4, as amended - agreed.
Clause 5, as amended - agreed.
Clause 6 - agreed.
Clause 7 and 8 - agreed.
Clause 9 as amended - agreed.
Clause 10 and 11 - agreed.
Clause 12 - agreed.
Clause 13 - agreed.
Clause 14 - agreed.
Clause 15, as amended - agreed.
Clause 16, as amended - agreed.
Clause 17, as amended - agreed.
Clause 18 - agreed.
Clause 19, as amended - agreed.
Clause 20, 21, 22 & 23 - agreed.
Clause 24, as amended - agreed.
Clause 25 - agreed.
Clause 26, as amended - agreed.
Clause 27, as amended - agreed.
Clause 28 - agreed.
Clause 29 - agreed.
Clause 30 and 31 - agreed.
Schedule 1: as further amended - agreed
Item 13 of Schedule 1(as contained in Department's proposed amendments)
This clause was further amended: "The provision of service for the benefit of subsistence farmers and fisheries".
The Committee members ultimately agreed to adopt the clause according to Mr Schulze's formulation.
Schedule 2, as amended - agreed.
The Committee unanimously voted on the Bill with amendments. Finally the Chairperson presented a report to the Committee to the effect that the Portfolio Committee report the Bill with amendments, a motion with which all Committee members agreed. She said the Bill would be tabled in the House for adoption.
The meeting was concluded.
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