Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill: Final Mandate

Education (WCPP)

29 April 2024
Chairperson: Ms D Baartman (DA)
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Meeting Summary

The Western Cape Standing Committee on Education met to adopt its final mandate on the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill. It received the amendments (C-List) from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The Chairperson clarified the process, indicating that Members would only indicate support or lack thereof for the Bill.

The Chairperson outlined the amendments and asked for Members' views. A Member moved not to support the Bill due to its unaccepted proposed amendments, which was supported by two other Members. The Chairperson also noted her lack of support for the amended Bill, expressing concerns about various clauses.

The Committee then adopted its final mandate report, confirming the rejection of the Bill.

In her closing remarks at this final meeting of the Sixth Term, the Chairperson expressed gratitude to Members, support staff, and stakeholders for their dedication. She highlighted the Committee's groundbreaking work and wished all members well in their constituencies and upcoming elections.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all attendees and stated that the Committee was meeting to address the final mandate of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill of 2022, based on the amendments (C-List) sent from the National Council of Provinces. She clarified the final mandate process that the Committee would only indicate support or lack thereof for the Bill, rather than voting clause by clause. She requested Members and departmental officials, to introduce themselves, before proceeding to the subject matter.

Mr F Christians (ACDP), Mr C Fry (DA), Mr C Poole (DA), introduced themselves. Mr K Sayed (ANC) had submitted his apology as he was going to be late.

Officials from both the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Western Cape Education Department also introduced themselves.

The Chairperson sought confirmation on the tabling of the C-List from Ms Wasiema Hassen-Moosa, Procedural Officer, who affirmed that they were indeed allowed to table it. It was then screened and Members had also received it via email.

C-List of BELA Bill by National Council of Provinces
The Chairperson stated that she would not read through every single word but would stop at certain points for discussion and questions to DBE. She clarified that the C version listed the proposed amendments, while the D version incorporated these amendments into the Bill. She proceeded to outline the amendments in the C version (see document):

Clause 1 proposed an omission and substitution of a word.

Clause 2 amendments dealt with changes about imprisonment.

Clause 4 amendments involved renumbering and substituting "(c)" with "(a)" and changing "head of department" to "governing body."

Clause 5 amendments included omitting and substituting numbers, changing "the head of department" to "the governing body," and renumbering.

Further amendments were made to subsequent clauses, including omitting and substituting text, renumbering, and making spelling corrections.

Clause 26 had "Member of Executive Council" changed to "Head of the Department."

Clause 54 saw a change in the year from 2022 to 2024.

The Chairperson noted that some proposed amendments from the Western Cape had been accepted while others had not. She asked Members to express their views on the amended Bill. She sought confirmation from the Procedural Officer about tabling the D version before Members expressed their views.

The Procedural Officer confirmed that was in order.

The D-List was presented to Members.

The Chairperson noted the D Bill had been screened and asked if they needed to go through its clause by clause as well.

The Procedural Officer responded that there was no need. It reflected the C-List amendments as incorporated into the Bill.

The Chairperson confirmed that the amendments were included in the Bill.

Mr C Fry (DA) moved that the Committee not support the Bill because not all the Western Cape proposed amendments, especially those on pertinent clauses, were accepted.

Mr F Christians (ACDP) agreed with Mr Fry, highlighting that crucial amendments the Committee had proposed were not included. He seconded Mr Fry's proposal.

Mr C Poole (DA) supported Mr Fry and Mr Christians' statements.

The Chairperson stated her lack of support for the amended Bill, endorsing Mr Fry's proposal to reject it. She highlighted concerns about the absence of changes about making Grade R compulsory without considering potential financial constraints, citing evidence about cost and funding implications. She had ongoing concerns about clauses 4 and 5 on admissions and language authority, directives and centralisation. While she appreciated the inclusion of "may" in clause 14 on central procurement, she noted that the change from opting-out to opting-in was not accepted, raising concerns about the possible inclusion of schools. She said clauses 35 and 39 had no amendments and noted the centralisation clauses where powers were being shifted from provincial to national structures. She repeated concerns about procedural and funding defects, reinforcing her decision not to support the Bill.

The Chairperson instructed the Procedural Officer to record the votes. She reminded Members that the final mandate would only indicate the vote on the overall Bill as per the Mandating Procedures of Provinces Act. She read out the final mandate report on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B2B-2022], noting that the committee had considered the subject and conferred the authority to the Western Cape delegation in the NCOP to not support the Bill.

Voting: All Members that were present moved for the adoption of the final mandate.

The Chairperson acknowledged that Mr Fry had moved, and Mr Poole and Christians had seconded the report, leading to its adoption. She thanked everyone and noted that the report would be sent to the NCOP.

The Chairperson thanked the DBE and WCED for their assistance with the legislation. She recognised the challenging nature of legislative work and expressed appreciation for their efforts, whether in agreement or disagreement. She emphasised the importance of representing constituents effectively within the legislative mandate.

A WCED official expressed appreciation for the committee's time and energy devoted to the Bill. She acknowledged the collaborative effort put forth.

Committee meeting and public hearings minutes dated from 9 February to 15 April 2024 were adopted.

Closing remarks
The Chairperson thanked the Members, acknowledging their commitment and dedication throughout the years. She appreciated their efforts in advocating for their respective constituencies and highlighted the progress made in basic education during their tenure.

She extended her thanks to the Committee’s support staff members and the translators for their valuable assistance. She recognized the sacrifices made by Members who had to give up personal time to fulfill their legislative, public participation and oversight roles. She thanked the DBE, WCED, National Treasury, Provincial Treasury and Financial and Fiscal Commission (FCC), and all stakeholders for their engagement and contribution to making them better lawmakers.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee was the first in South Africa to call the Financial and Fiscal Commission on non-money Bills and financial legislation, commending Members for being groundbreaking about this. She expressed appreciation for the Procedural Officer's implementation of the new Excel tracking system to ensure follow-up on Committee resolutions and feedback to every individual.

She wished all members the best in their constituencies, especially those contesting the upcoming elections.

Mr Christians expressed gratitude towards the Chairperson, praising her for her efficient handling of meetings and fair treatment of all Members regardless of political affiliation. He thanked his colleagues for their contributions and extended his appreciation to the support staff and the legal team. He acknowledged the challenges faced but emphasized their shared passion for their work as lawmakers. He expressed pride in the Committee's achievements and wished everyone well in the elections, acknowledging that some may continue while others may not.

The meeting was adjourned.


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