The Portfolio Committee met on the virtual platform to consider the public participation report on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Bill [B8-2021].
An opposition party made its submission that it was unhappy with the proceedings of the 3 November 2023 meeting which were deliberations on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Bill. The Democratic Alliance stated that according to National Assembly Rule 286, deliberations should take into account all public participation inputs, proposals and evidence that was presented to the Committee. The adoption should not have taken place right after the Chairperson had read out the Bill as deliberations were needed. There was a difference between reading through a Bill and deliberations.
The ANC as the majority party disagreed with that submission. ANC members asserted that the amendments had been made as the Chairperson was reading through the Bill and therefore, due process was followed.
The Committee adopted the public participation report on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill
The Chairperson informed the Committee that Parliament’s legal team had communicated to him that it would need more time to prepare the Committee proposed amendments (A-List) to the Bill.
He instructed the Committee Content Advisor to prepare the Committee Report on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Bill in readiness for the Bill's adoption. Committee members would be kept posted about the meeting date for the presentation of the A-List.
Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha was present on the platform. The Committee noted apologies from the Minister who was at a Cabinet meeting and Deputy Minister Zoleka Capa who had ministerial duties.
Before the Committee proceeded to its business of the day, Mr Masipa asked to make a submission.
Democratic Alliance statement
Mr N Masipa (DA) read his party’s statement on its unhappiness about the process followed at the 3 November committee meeting to deliberate on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill.
National Assembly Rule 286(4)(j) states that once a motion of desirability is adopted, the committee must proceed to deliberate on the details of the Bill. During the last committee sitting, the Chairperson "had read the Bill" and asked for adoption. This was contrary to the correct proceeding which is stated in the Rules. Reading and deliberating on the Bill are two different concepts. 'Reading' simply means, as defined by Oxford dictionary, occasions at which pieces of literature are read to an audience. 'Deliberation' means long and careful consideration and discussion. In the previous meeting, the Chairperson called for the adoption of clauses that he had read by way of raising of hands and seconding of the motion after the reading. This is not what is stated in the Rules that the Committee may adopt during the deliberation phase in the middle of simply reading out the Bill. The DA argues that the Committee should deliberate and agree on the proposed changes that were to be made. Rule 286(6) states that deliberation by members should take into account proposed amendments, comments, proposals and evidence presented. Thus, the expected process is a formal consideration of the Bill clause-by-clause including amendments that are formally proposed. The consideration and adoption of the committee report and adoption of the final version of the Bill takes place after that process.
The Democratic Alliance has more inputs to make on the Bill. However, inputs cannot be made if the Committee does not carefully deliberate on the Bill but rushes into finalising the Bill.
Mr N Capa (ANC) noted the DA's statement. However, he recalled that amendments had been made in the deliberation process the previous week. During the process, he believed that the Committee had taken a position on agreeing and in agreeing, it meant that Members had read the Bill together and that the reading was done. The agreement was made after the consideration of all the inputs and notes. Hence, he disagreed that there was omission in the process.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) said she fully agreed with Mr Masipa’s statement.
Dr M Tlhape (ANC) stated that this is not the first Bill that had been handled in this way by the Committee. There are always glitches in the process but, as a collective, Committee members always find common ground procedurally to move on. She questioned the impact of Mr Masipa’s statement on the business of the day. She was of the view that an agreement on the Bill had been made by the Committee at the 3 November meeting; therefore the horses had bolted.
The Chairperson interrupted before Ms B Tshwete (ANC) could speak and reiterated the agenda which was the consideration of the Public Participation Report. He emphasised that he had read seven chapters of the Bill in clause-by-clause deliberations. The amendments that had been made were duly noted under the supervision of the legal advisors. Legal advisors are now effecting the amendments and are drafting the A-List. Then the A-List would be read to Committee in the same process and then the Bill would be adopted by the Committee before it was sent to the National Assembly.
Mr M Montwedi (EFF) expressed his concern at Dr Tlhape’s remark that the horses had bolted. If procedural mistakes had been made, then the Committee should correct those errors whenever possible. He suggested that the Committee check for errors in the proceedings and then assess the possibility of rectifying mistakes.
The Chairperson said that he was confident that he had adhered to the correct procedure and indicated the closure of this discussion so as to move to the business of the day.
Public Participation Report on Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill
Mr Masipa raised a point of order that he had received this report only the night before which had given him insufficient time to deliberate on the report. The speed at which the report was being scrolled through on the screen meant one cannot read the report.
The Chairperson replied that the report had been sent through in the afternoon of the day before and Members had been alerted about that.
Dr Tlhape commented that pages 16 to 21 of the Public Participation Report should not fall between the cracks and that the Committee should follow up on those concerns as those are crucial matters.
Mr Capa agreed and added that they should highlight in the Committee Report on the Bill that many important issues had been attended to, some were responded to and others were being referred to the relevant departments.
The Public Participation Report was adopted.
Committee minutes of 10, 13, 17, 20 and 31 October 2023 were adopted.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.