Discussion of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Bill [B4-2001]

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Defence and Military Veterans

13 March 2001
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

13 March 2001

Chairperson: Ms TR Modise

Documents handed out:
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Bill [B4-01]

There was a joint sitting of the Justice and Defence Committees. The Justice Committee had never seen the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Amendment Bill before. It requested that representatives from the Department of Defence be invited to make representations on the matter as it appeared that the Bill had bypassed them. The meeting was adjourned on that point.

The Chair said the meeting was called because the Portfolio Committee on Defence needs an amendment in the Constitution, related to the integration of ex-MK and APLA members into the SANDF. She said proposed amendments to the Constitution are normally referred to and dealt with by Justice and Constitutional Development.

She said the Constitution of South Africa 1993 makes provision for the integration of ex-MK and APLA members into the SANDF. Subsequently, the Department of Defense decided to bring the integration process to a halt. The End of Integration Bill was enacted for this purpose. Because the 1993 Constitution made provision for the integration, it was necessary that the Constitution be amended. The Department of Defense was clear that an amendment was necessary, and so approached the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to consider the amendment.

Adv J De Lange (ANC) said the Justice Committee was seeing the Amendment Bill for the first time. He said that he was not sure how his Department had been bypassed since it had been formed to consider matters of this nature. He wanted to discuss two things. First, the reasons behind the Amendment Bill having been dealt with by the Department of Defence. Second, he said the Justice Department had written a letter to the Speaker about how this matter has been handled. He said that certain procedures must be complied with before the Constitution can be amended. The Justice Committee would like to peruse the Amendment Bill before commenting on it.

The Chairperson responded that the Portfolio Committee had received no document other than the Amendment Bill and therefore couldn't explain the reason why the Justice Committee had been bypassed in the process. Furthermore, there were no representatives from the Department of Defence present to give an explanation.

Adv De Lange responded there was no merit in proceeding with the meeting in the absence of representatives from the Department of Defence as they were the ones who would explain the proposed amendment to the Constitution. Secondly, the Justice Committee has a full programme until the middle of May, unless alternative arrangements can be made to accommodate this matter. He suggested that the meeting be adjourned so that the Department of Defence can have an opportunity to make its representations on the matter and furnish any extra documentation it may have.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) commented this is a technical matter and that indeed the Committee would need to be briefed by the Department of Defence on the way forward.

The meeting was adjourned.


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