Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill: NCOP Amendments

Basic Education

15 May 2024
Chairperson: Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


ATC240509: Report of the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts, and Culture on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B2B – 2022], dated 02 May 2024

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education convened virtually to consider amendments to the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill as proposed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Because this Bill is tagged as Section 76 Bill, if the NCOP amends the Bill, the amendments must be referred back to the National Assembly to consider whether to concur with the amendments or not. Before getting into the amendments, Members were alerted to the fact that one of their Members, Mr M Sukers (ACDP) had written to the Committee questioning the procedure of the meeting and which National Assembly rules applied. This prompted other opposition Members also to raise concerns before the amendments were formally considered. Concerns were raised about the tight timeframes, rushing and the Committee was expected to consider the amendments and adopt a report thereon on the same day for a debate the next day leading to these Members questioning whether the discussions and outcomes of the meeting were “predetermined”. There was warning that the Committee could open itself it legal challenges if the rules were not closely followed. There was also concern about errors in the current version of the Bill. Other Members urged their colleagues to make a decision only after hearing from legal services, rather than pre-emptively deciding against adopting the report. The parliamentary legal advisor assured Members that Parliament and its committees must adhere to statutory guidelines and cannot act outside of stipulated rules. The legal advisor presented the amendments proposed by the NCOP focusing on clauses one, two, three, four, and five. These amendments address issues such as the definition of corporal punishment, compulsory attendance, and education provisions.

Members asked whether they would have an opportunity to comment on these amendments, when such discussions would take place, and how subsequent petitions would be dealt with. They sought further clarity from the legal advisor, asking that guidance be submitted in writing. Members asked about the thinking behind some of the NCOP amendments. Other Members did not engage in further deliberation, accepting the presentation of the NCOP amendments and moving for their acceptance. To reach a consensus, the Chairperson gave all parties an opportunity to take a position. The ANC and EFF accepted the NCOP amendments, the DA and ACDP objected and the IFP abstained. A Committee report reflecting this was subsequently tabled and adopted. 

Meeting report

The Committee Secretariat opened the meeting by greeting the Chairperson, Members of the Committee, and officials from the Department of Basic Education noting that the meeting had a quorum. He then handed over to the Chairperson.

The Chairperson, Ms B Mbinqo-Gigaba (ANC), greeted everyone and requested a roll call.

The Committee Secretariat conducted the roll call, mentioned all Members present, and conveyed an apology from the Minister's Office, stating that the Minister would not be able to join the meeting that morning.

The Chairperson thanked him and proceeded to greet the Members, staff, officials from Parliament, and officials from the Department of Basic Education. She expressed her gratitude to Members for prioritising the meeting despite their political commitments. She indicated that the meeting was expected to be brief and that they were continuing with the Basic Laws Amendment Bill (BELA) Bill process originating from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The purpose of the meeting was to review any changes made by the National Council of Provinces to the Bill and to reach a concurrence so that the Bill could proceed to Parliament for debate the next day, 16 May 2024, and subsequently be sent to the President.

The Chairperson then called for the adoption of the agenda, which included consideration and concurrence with the amendment from the National Council of Provinces to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill of 2022. This was referred to them by the National Council of Provinces on 14 May 2024, as per ATC 72 of 2024. She called for the adoption of the agenda.

Mr T Letsie (ANC) greeted the Chairperson, Members on the platform, the Department, and everyone watching. He acknowledged the busy campaign schedule and proposed moving swiftly. He moved to adopt the agenda as presented, expressing hope for a short meeting.

Mr P Moroatshehla (ANC) seconded the motion.

The Chairperson thanked them and stated that she did not want to waste any time but needed to bring to the Members' attention that they had received a letter from Ms M Sukers (ACDP) that morning. She mentioned that the letter had also been shared in their WhatsApp group due to time constraints. The Chairperson acknowledged the letter as addressed to herself and the Committee at large. She then handed over to Ms Phumelele Ngema, requesting her to take them through the current status of the Bill and what was expected from them.

Mr Moroatshehla stated that before the Legal Advisor begins, it would be prudent for the Portfolio Committee to formally note the receipt of the letter. He emphasised the importance of putting this on record.

Discussion on rules and procedure

Ms M van Zyl (DA) greeted the Chairperson, colleagues, staff members, and viewers. She requested that before the Parliamentary Legal Advisor continues, she would like a comment on a concern. She referenced the rules that outline the process when a Bill, amended by the Council, is referred back to the National Assembly committee for report and recommendations. Ms van Zyl drew specific attention to section 311 (1) (b), which mandates that if the Council amends a bill, it must be submitted to the portfolio committee or another appropriate assembly committee for review and recommendations.

Her concern was that the Committee saw the amendments for the first time that day and was expected to produce a report immediately, which would be tabled in the National Assembly the next day. She argued that discussing and adopting the report on the same day would be problematic, as it suggests a predetermined outcome. She pointed out that precedence on this matter was set the previous Friday by the Standing Committee on Finance, which had a similar issue and concluded that a report could not be adopted on the same day as the discussion. She requested that the Parliamentary Legal Advisor address this concern in her comments.

Ms M Sukers (ACDP) greeted the Chairperson, colleagues, and everyone listening. She acknowledged a Member's suggestion to formally note her letter to the Committee. Given the procedural issues and errors in the current version of the Bill highlighted in the letter, she requested that the Parliamentary Legal Services address these concerns. She stressed that noting the letter implies it has been read by all concerned.

Mr Moroatshehla stated that he would not respond directly to Ms Sukers but wanted to address what Ms van Zyl had indicated. He noted that the procedures for addressing concurrence do not specify timeframes prohibiting reviewing and adopting a report on consecutive days. He expressed concern about the suggestion to postpone the matter, emphasising that they are operating under tight deadlines. He objected to the view that the report could not be adopted today, advocating instead for allowing the legal advisors to present the necessary information. He urged Members to make a decision only after hearing from legal services, rather than pre-emptively deciding against adopting the report.

Ms N Adoons (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and greeted Members on the platform, Parliament staff, and everyone in the meeting. She expressed her expectation that the presentation should be made first, allowing Members to engage and ask questions based on the presentation. She proposed that the Chairperson should permit the presentation to proceed before any further discussions.

Mr B Nodada (DA) also thanked the Chairperson and emphasised the importance of understanding the agenda and remarks made at the start of the meeting. He supported the point raised by Ms van Zyl, stressing the need for clarity from Parliamentary Legal Services on whether rule 311 applies to the agenda. He highlighted the importance of being legally compliant with the process, ensuring that they follow proper procedures and do not rush due to self-imposed timelines. He seconded Ms van Zyl's point and reiterated the need for clarity within the presentation to ensure procedural correctness. He concluded by stating that as lawmakers, Members must follow the law and put emotions aside to ensure proper procedures are followed.

Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) greeted everyone and expressed agreement with Ms van Zyl and Mr Nodada. She found it concerning that Members of Parliament in a committee tasked with legislation might disregard parliamentary rules. She suggested that before discussing the legal service’s presentation, rules 311 and 312 should be read out for the record, allowing the Committee to decide whether to proceed. She referenced a precedent set by another portfolio committee meeting last week, as mentioned by Ms van Zyl, emphasising that Members are lawmakers and not playing politics. Ms van Der Walt stressed the importance of representing all South African people. She urged the Chairperson to provide clarity by reading out rules 311 and 312 of the National Assembly rules before continuing. She further said that some of her colleagues from the ANC were changing the rules as stipulated.

The Chairperson responded by addressing Ms Van Der Walt, expressing concern about her remarks and suggesting that she is straying from the topic. The Chairperson noted that Ms Van Der Walt had spoken and now seemed to be bringing up issues regarding the ANC, which the Chairperson deemed inappropriate. She emphasised the need for the Committee to make decisions and move forward instead of getting stuck in circular discussions.

Ms M Moroane (ANC) thanked the Chairperson and greeted everyone present, including colleagues and Department representatives. She expressed support for allowing legal services to present before engaging in discussions. She emphasised the need to move forward and avoid getting stuck in circular discussions, highlighting the importance of being guided and reaching concurrence.

Dr W Boshoff (FF+) stated that he wanted to confirm that the suggestions made by previous speakers contradicted each other. He explained that reading out the rules mentioned earlier would not necessarily halt the proceedings, but it might be improper to do so for the record. Dr Boshoff stressed the importance of careful monitoring at every step, as any errors could have legal repercussions. He urged caution and conscientiousness in the Committee’s actions, as external parties are ready to litigate any mistakes made during the process.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for their contributions and stated that she intentionally allowed everyone to speak on the matter. She acknowledged that discussions often take time when dealing with the BELA Bill. However, she emphasised the need to address issues as expected.

Ms Phumelele Ngema, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, expressed her gratitude to the Chairperson and requested that the Committee Secretariat hold onto the presentation momentarily. She wanted to address two procedural issues regarding Rule 311 and the matter going to the plenary of the National Assembly the following day.

Ms Ngema began by explaining Rule 311, which specifies that amendments from the Council, with the concurrence of the portfolio committee, must confine themselves to the amendments. She noted that this would be discussed further in her presentation.

She then referred to the rules of the National Assembly, explaining that once the Bill returns to the portfolio committee and the National Assembly, all processes and rules must align with the specific House's rules. She highlighted Rule 4, which allows for suspension or supplementation of rules if necessary.

Ms Ngema reassured Members that the process outlined in the rules would be followed, addressing concerns about the timeframes and truncated schedules. She cited Rule 4 of the National Assembly Rules, which permits the suspension of rules by resolution of the House for specific purposes and periods.

In concluding her explanation, Ms Ngema reiterated that Parliament and its committees must adhere to statutory guidelines and cannot act outside stipulated rules. She requested to proceed with the presentation unless directed otherwise by the Chairperson.

Concurrence on BELA Bill D-Version

Ms Ngema began her presentation on the concurrence of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, D-Version. She started by setting out the background and relevant rules guiding the Committee's proceedings.

She reminded the Committee that the Bill is a Section 76 bill, which follows an extensive process compared to Section 75 bills. The Bill was initially introduced by Cabinet, representing the Minister of Basic Education, and was then referred to the Committee for its own processes.

Ms Ngema highlighted the Committee's extensive engagement with the public, resulting in the emergence of the A&B version of the Bill, which incorporated amendments based on public input. Currently, the Committee is handling the concurrence on the D version of the Bill.

She explained the process whereby the B version of the Bill was approved by the Committee and referred to the National Council of Provinces, which further considered the Bill and made its own amendments. These amendments are now being considered for concurrence by the Committee.

Ms Ngema stressed the importance of following procedural rules, particularly in a Section 76 bill process. She explained that once the Committee makes its recommendation on the amendments, it goes to the National Assembly for plenary decision. A mediation process may occur if the Assembly does not approve the Committee's recommendation.

She outlined the two main outcomes of the Committee's proceedings: the Committee report and the recommendation on whether to approve the amendments. Members will then vote on these during plenary.

Ms Ngema then summarised the amendments made by the Select Committee, focusing on clauses one, two, three, four, and five. These amendments address issues such as the definition of corporal punishment, compulsory attendance, and education provisions.

Ms Ngema explained that the first point she wished to clarify was the expressed and stipulated involvement of the head of department in various provisions. She indicated the criteria for the head of department's actions once the school governing bodies had completed their processes regarding admissions and language policies. She mentioned that certain provisions outlined timeframes and procedures for engagement between the head of department and school governing bodies, as guided by jurisprudence from court cases.

Regarding amendments affecting Class 4 and Clause 5, Ms Ngema highlighted three versions of the Bill that had undergone parliamentary processing. She explained the role of departmental advisors and legal advisors in ensuring compliance with existing legislative frameworks. Ms Ngema confirmed that changes were made not due to constitutional issues but in response to parliamentary deliberations and practical challenges, such as departmental capacity constraints.

Ms Ngema moved on to discuss Clause 7, which addresses exemptions based on religious, cultural, or medical beliefs, and Clause 8, concerning the handling of confiscated items in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Act.

She explained that Clause 9 addresses immediate suspensions for serious misconduct, aiming to maintain school environments while ensuring due process.

Regarding corporal punishment penalties and Clause 14 on central procurement, Ms Ngema clarified provisions to ensure consistency and address disparities among schools. She noted a minor change regarding conflicts of interest and explained amendments to Clause 26, favouring the head of department over the Member of Executive Council (MEC) for certain responsibilities.

Ms Ngema highlighted an editorial change to update the Bill's reference year from 2022 to 2024. She addressed a petition received by Parliament, acknowledging concerns raised but affirming the adherence to parliamentary rules and procedures. She outlined potential next steps, including mediation, if further amendments were proposed. Ms Ngema emphasised the importance of public engagement while ensuring the legislative process proceeds in accordance with constitutional and parliamentary requirements.

(see attached for full presentation)

Ms Ngema acknowledged receiving a letter from the ACDP and expressed willingness to address its contents. She requested that the letter be displayed for reference. Ms Ngema then proceeded to discuss the concerns raised in the letter, particularly regarding clauses four and five of the Bill.

Regarding the criminalisation of parents for not sending their children to school, Ms Ngema clarified that the Bill did not introduce this provision but aimed to clarify penalties already existing in the law. She emphasised the role of the courts in handling such cases and the need for clarity in legislative language.

Ms Ngema also addressed the issue of exemptions for learners and the provision for central procurement in schools. She explained the rationale behind these provisions and emphasised the importance of practical considerations in their implementation.

In conclusion, Ms Ngema referred to Rule 311 (2) (a), which allows the Committee to consult relevant Council committees or chairpersons for clarification. She suggested writing to the Select Committee and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces for further details on their decision-making process. Ms Ngema highlighted the importance of understanding the reasoning behind amendments made by the Select Committee.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude and requested clarification regarding the amendments or communications sent to Members on Sunday.

In response, the Committee Secretary thanked the Chairperson and Members for the opportunity to provide clarification. He explained that he had been keeping Members informed about the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) developments concerning the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill. He mentioned that the Bill was originally scheduled for debate in the NCOP on Thursday, 9 May 2024 but was deferred to Tuesday, 14 May 2024. Following this, upon personal request, an application was made for a meeting to be held on Wednesday, 15 May 2024. The application was submitted to the House Chairperson, and approval was received on Sunday morning around 9:00 am. The Committee Secretary then organised the meeting and shared the C-list or C-version and the D-version of the BELA Bill with Members on Sunday around noon. He emphasised that their proactivity ensured readiness for the meeting scheduled for today, following the NCOP debate and referral that occurred yesterday.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude and stated that she wanted to ensure it was on record and clarified to Members that the amendments were sent to them on Sunday afternoon. She noted that there were hands raised and assumed that those Members wished to speak on the presentation by Ms Ngema.


Mr Nodada expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and proceeded to raise three points. Firstly, he emphasised the importance of legal clarity, highlighting the need to avoid accountability for illegal decisions. He specifically referenced Rules 311 and 312, questioning whether Parliament was following correct procedures, particularly concerning Rule 21A, which specifies the process for suspending rules. He sought clarification from parliamentary legal services on this matter.

Secondly, Mr Nodada inquired about the process for addressing amendments made by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), questioning whether Members would have an opportunity to comment on these amendments and when such discussions would take place.

Lastly, he addressed the clarification provided regarding amendments to sections four and five, as well as the concerns raised by ACDP and Solidariteit. Mr Nodada questioned whether these contributions would be disregarded and when discussions on the NCOP's amendments would occur to ensure thorough consideration before producing a report. He emphasised the need for comprehensive discussions and voiced opposition to rushing through the process without thorough examination.

Ms van Zyl directed her comments towards the Chairperson, highlighting concerns about the procedural aspects of the Committee's work. She referenced NA rule 312, emphasising that the Committee is required to table a report and recommendations in the Assembly, along with the amended Bill from the Council. Since they have not received such a report yet, she questioned how they could be expected to conclude their report for deliberation in the National Assembly the following day. She reiterated the importance of not discussing or adopting a report that has not been seen, citing a similar situation in another committee where the decision was made to reconvene to consider the report properly.

Ms van Zyl then referred to Section 4 regarding the suspension or supplementing of rules, stating that there has not been a resolution from the House to suspend these rules. She requested clarity from parliamentary legal services on whether such a resolution exists and, if it does, to project it for the Committee to see. She stressed the importance of clarity on this matter to avoid potential legal challenges.

Dr Boshoff raised a point regarding the language and admission policies, specifically noting a change from "after consultation" to "in consultation" with the School Governing Bodies (SGBs). He mentioned that an agreement had been reached with Mr James Ndlebe, Chief Director: Education Management and Governance, DBE, and the Department on this matter. However, it appears that this change was not included in the D version of the Bill approved by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Dr Boshoff sought clarification on why this change was not implemented despite its perceived significance.

Ms Sukers conveyed her support for the sentiments expressed by her colleagues, indicating a need for clarity from parliamentary legal services. She requested that they provide the Committee with a written submission addressing the assessments made by Ms Ngema.

She highlighted procedural concerns Ms van Zyl and Mr Nodada raised and urged Ms Ngema to provide precedents in writing. Ms Sukers sought clarification on an oversight regarding clause four and questioned whether it was an administrative matter.

Additionally, she drew attention to the Speaker's decision to refer the Bill to the Committee rather than directly to the House. She stressed the importance of producing a detailed report with recommendations for the House Members.

Ms Sukers emphasised the Committee's constitutional duty and the significance of procedural accuracy. She reiterated the request for written precedents and urged Ms Ngema to provide her legal opinion in writing, particularly regarding the clauses she had raised.

She underscored the importance of addressing procedural flaws promptly, considering the potential legal challenges. Despite receiving numerous submissions highlighting such flaws, including those from various stakeholders. Further, she highlighted the absence of the NCOP report and public submissions, indicating their relevance to the Committee's deliberations.

The Chairperson interjected, stating that the matter being brought up was not pertinent to the current discussion. She urged Members to focus on the agenda at hand and reminded them that there was no designated chairperson to respond to the matter being raised. Asserting authority, she called for order and emphasised the need to remain focused on the meeting's agenda.

Adv S Swart (ACDP) then intervened, raising a point of order. He defended his colleague's right to address the Chairperson and noted the absence of a report from the NCOP regarding the matter under discussion. Despite interruptions from the Chairperson who kept talking over him, he requested permission to complete his statement.

The Chairperson sternly reminded Members to respect the meeting, asserting that she had permitted discussion on the matter at hand. She objected to being instructed on how to conduct the meeting and expressed her disapproval, insisting that the meeting would proceed according to her direction.

Adv Swart interjected, pointing out the Chairperson's interruptions and indicating that she had prevented his colleague from addressing her on another issue.

In response, the Chairperson differentiated between addressing him as an adult and as a Member of Parliament, highlighting his newcomer status to the Committee and asserting her authority.

Adv Swart appealed for respect, citing his position and expressing his objection to what he perceived as bullying tactics by the Chairperson towards Committee Members.

Unyielding, the Chairperson refused to be intimidated, rejecting Adv Swart's attempts to “assert authority” over the meeting's proceedings. She then called for Adv Swart to be removed from the meeting, citing his behaviour as unacceptable.

Mr Letsie acknowledged the Chairperson's ruling and supported the decision to remove Adv Swart from the meeting due to his repeated disrespect for the Chairperson's rulings. He questioned whether this order could be maintained, suggesting its potential feasibility.

Mr Nodada sought to raise a point of order, but Mr B Yabo (ANC) intervened, stating that his own point of order should not be disregarded. He expressed that his raised hand and point of order should not be overlooked, emphasising that the current order should not take precedence over others.

Mr Yabo addressed the Chairperson, expressing concern over the disregard for meeting rules, particularly during a previous altercation involving Adv Swart. He highlighted the rule dictating that the speaker should yield to the Chairperson when the Chairperson rises to speak, with any rulings made by the Chairperson being final. Mr Yabo criticised Adv Swart's apparent belief that he could exempt himself from meeting rules while expecting others to adhere to them.

He stressed the importance of respecting meeting rules and implementing the Chairperson's determinations, expressing surprise at Adv Swart's continued presence in the meeting despite the Chairperson's ruling for his removal. Mr Yabo questioned whether parliamentary staff were undermining meeting rules or the authority of Members of Parliament, urging for adherence to meeting protocols.

The Chairperson reiterated her final ruling on Adv Swart and asked Mr Nodada not to bring up the matter again.

However, Mr Nodada insisted on addressing a point of order concerning the Chairperson's conduct. He expressed concern about the Chairperson's behaviour during the recent exchange, emphasising the need to adhere to parliamentary rules regarding dialogue and language instead of shouting at Members. Mr Nodada highlighted the importance of issuing warnings before ejecting Members from meetings and called for consistent application of disciplinary actions. He reminded the Chairperson that every Member has the right to participate in Committee meetings and urged her to maintain decorum and follow the rules to ensure the smooth running of proceedings.

The Chairperson inquired whether Adv Swart had been removed from the meeting. Upon confirmation of his departure, she expressed gratitude and requested to proceed with the meeting.

Ms Sukers raised two key points. Firstly, she sought clarification from the Chairperson regarding whether the Committee would proceed to address the amendments clause by clause immediately. Secondly, she highlighted a significant concern regarding the lack of specificity when citing rules during discussions. She emphasised the importance of clearly identifying the rules being referenced, echoing a previous point she had raised.

Ms Sukers expressed apprehension about potential implications if the current process, as interpreted by Ms Ngema, was flawed. She referenced submissions related to the NCOP, particularly mentioning a Solidariteit petition discussed in the meeting. She underscored the need for accountability, both for officials within departments and for Members of Parliament, if processes were found to be flawed.

She reiterated her query about clause 4, questioning whether Ms Ngema considered the issues raised in the letter to be material to the amendments. Ms Sukers stressed the importance of Ms Ngema binding herself to the interpretations she provided to the Committee, especially in light of legal judgments such as the Mogale judgment, which sets a high standard for Parliament in the legislative process.

The Chairperson requested that Ms Ngema address the confusion among Members by providing clarity on the issues raised. She acknowledged the expectation for the Committee to trust the beliefs of the Members but expressed her reluctance to speak on the matter herself. However, she ultimately decided to intervene to facilitate understanding. The Chairperson asked Ms Ngema, in her capacity as a legal expert, to clarify the points raised by the various Members who had spoken.


Ms Ngema expressed gratitude to the Chairperson, stating that she appreciated their indulgence in allowing her to speak at that juncture. She then proceeded to clarify three crucial points, acknowledging that there might be confusion among Members. Firstly, she highlighted the importance of appreciating the process, suggesting that Members reflect on their past meetings. She explained that a report is subsequently prepared whenever a committee undertakes a task.

Ms Ngema continued by addressing the confusion surrounding the reports. She clarified that the Committee is expected to adopt its resolution and stance after the meeting. Subsequently, the Committee Secretary compiles a report detailing the proceedings and the Committee's position. This report is then submitted to the plenary of the National Assembly. Ms Ngema questioned the existence of any other report that Members claimed they had not seen and expressed her intention to clarify what needed to be documented in writing. She mentioned the forthcoming report from the meeting, which the Committee Secretary would present for adoption according to standard procedures. Additionally, she referred to the requirement for a report under rules 311 to 313 of the National Assembly rules, and she mentioned Rule 176, which defines the content of the Committee's report.

Ms Ngema elaborated further, emphasising the importance of adhering to parliamentary stipulations. She clarified that the report being discussed was that of the Committee, which would be adopted following the ongoing deliberations.

Moving on to address another point, she tackled the issue regarding Clause 4 and the amendments. Ms Ngema referred to the amended list, known as the C-list, highlighting item number 2 on page 3, which pertained to the amendment in question. She proceeded to read the amendment from page seven, explaining that it involved substituting certain terms. She expressed frustration at not being able to read the specific section at that moment but indicated her intention to clarify the matter. She described the amendment as an editorial correction, acknowledging that it might have been overlooked during the proofreading process. Ms Ngema then explained the effect of the amendment on Clause 4, noting that it altered the consultation process between the head of department and the school governing body. She attributed any oversight to errors in typesetting and expressed a desire to rectify the issue promptly.

Ms Ngema proceeded to discuss the discrepancies in the text regarding Clause 4. She pointed out that on page 7, towards the end and the beginning of page 8, there was a mistake where "A" should have been used instead of "C." She stressed that this was an editorial and administrative issue rather than a substantive one.

Ms Ngema then elaborated on the criteria outlined in the text, emphasising the role of the school governing body in determining admission policies. She clarified that the power to admit learners to a public school rested with the governing body, with the head of department having final authority only after consultation.

She reiterated that the amendment from the NCOP was clear, and any confusion stemmed from the erroneous use of "C" instead of "A." Regarding the administrative point raised, she explained that the three-day waiting period mentioned in the rules did not apply at the current stage of the Bill.

She provided examples of past practices where bills were passed without a waiting period after committee reports. Ms Ngema concluded by addressing the confusion surrounding the letters and submissions, clarifying that the letters discussed in the meeting were not general submissions but specifically a petition from Solidariteit. She explained the circumstances under which the petition was brought to the Committee's attention and the advice she provided on it. She thanked the Chairperson for the opportunity to clarify these matters before the Members resumed their deliberations.

The Chairperson expressed gratitude to Ms Ngema for her thorough explanation, noting that it clarified why Ms Sukers had been called upon. She affirmed that the Committee was solely focused on its own process and did not have any external reports to consider. She then invited Members whose hands were up to speak, indicating the need to reach a conclusion on the matter at hand.

Mr Moroatshehla expressed appreciation for Ms Ngema's well-prepared presentation, acknowledging that she had covered many points comprehensively. He highlighted the significance of the Bill to the National Assembly and noted its procedural journey through the Portfolio Committee and the NCOP. Despite extensive public participation, he questioned the resistance and hesitancy towards the Bill. Mr Moroatshehla expressed frustration at the threat of legal action against the Committee, urging for cooperation rather than confrontation. He then moved to accept and adopt Ms Ngema's presentation, praising its progressive nature and the efforts of the Committee.

Mr Yabo began by acknowledging his oversight in not greeting all Members earlier. He extended his greetings to everyone present on the platform, including the legal representative from Parliament. Mr Yabo then proposed that the Committee concur with the amendments, taking into account the spelling mistake and typo errors that had been identified. He noted that aside from correcting these errors, the Committee should proceed with the report of the NCOP on the proposed amendments. Since Mr Moroatshehla had already addressed this point, Mr Yabo seconded the proposal, emphasising the importance of correcting the typo error.

Mr Nodada expressed his belief that it should be duly noted. He objected to the explanation provided, highlighting that the Committee had never before prepared and adopted a report hastily. He found it unjust for Ms Ngema to insist that this was the case. Mr Nodada emphasised the importance of thoroughly considering reports to ensure they accurately reflected the discussions and resolutions reached. He cautioned against repeating past mistakes, citing a previous report that had inaccuracies. Mr Nodada argued against the notion of simply accepting the report without proper scrutiny, stressing the need for due process. He disagreed with the idea of being pressured into adhering to tight deadlines. He referenced past experiences in court to support his stance. Ultimately, he urged the Chairperson to reject the proposal and objected to accepting explanations that did not accurately represent their discussions.

The Chairperson stated that she believed Members were now somewhat divided. She mentioned that she would allow parties to voice their opinions, but stressed the importance of noting that they must proceed systematically. She reminded everyone that the agenda item for the day was concurrence, and that was where their focus should lie. She added that she would now take input, but emphasised the need to address the matter one step at a time, regardless of whether they agreed with the approach or not. The Chairperson acknowledged a Member's raised hand, expressing willingness to hear their contribution.

Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and apologised for having to revisit the discussion. He affirmed his agreement with other Members of the Portfolio Committee that the amendments made to the clauses should not be reconsidered publicly. He emphasised the need for the Committee to safeguard the Bill from stagnation and ensure it positively impacts children's lives. Mr Madlingozi urged the Committee to protect the Bill and allow it to proceed with the minor changes it had undergone.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Madlingozi and sought formal confirmation on proceeding. She noted the amendments made by the NCOP and inquired about the Committee's stance on them.

Mr Nodada sought clarification on whether they could provide input on the amended clauses before concurrence.

The Chairperson referred to advice from Ms Ngema and stressed the importance of considering the NCOP's report. She urged Members to agree to the concurrences, which would form the basis for debate in the National Assembly the following day. She reiterated the importance of adhering to parliamentary advice and urged Members to focus on the matter at hand, which was concurrence. She invited Members to adopt or propose the adoption of concurrence with the NCOP amendments.

Adoption of the Concurrence

Mr Yabo expressed gratitude and swiftly moved to propose concurrence on the report from the NCOP regarding the ongoing process.

Mr Moroatshehla promptly seconded Mr Yabo's proposal.

Mr Nodada, representing the Democratic Alliance, stated their rejection of the concurrence in its current form.

Ms Sukers echoed this sentiment, expressing disagreement with the concurrence and highlighting the absence of the report in the ATC. She requested clarification on this matter and sought confirmation on whether the report could be adopted.

The Chairperson responded, noting that the report had indeed been included in the ATC. She then invited parties to share their perspectives on the day's proceedings, starting with the ANC.

Ms van Zyl interjected, apologising for interrupting and expressing her objection to the rushed processes and the same-day concurrence of the report.

The Chairperson spoke about Mr Nodada's objection, indicating that if he objected, it would represent the stance of all Democratic Alliance Members, thus negating the need for further objections from them individually. She urged for orderliness and then proceeded to invite input from the ANC.

African National Congress

Ms Adoons, speaking on behalf of the ANC, expressed gratitude to the Chairperson. She acknowledged and appreciated the report and the amendments presented to the Portfolio Committee of Basic Education. She explained that these amendments resulted from processes overseen by the NCOP, and they subsequently passed their report, adopting the BELA Bill. Ms Adoons stated that the Portfolio Committee and the National Assembly were requested to provide concurrence to certain amendments. She indicated the ANC's acceptance and adoption of the changes proposed by the NCOP. Ms Adoons moved for the report's passage and adoption, to be discussed or adopted during the National Assembly sitting the following day. She affirmed that the process had been fair and complied with legal requirements and National Assembly rules. Ms Adoons expressed appreciation for Ms Ngema’s clarification and emphasised the ANC's commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunities for all children, irrespective of colour or race. She concluded by confirming the ANC's agreement to pass the amendments, enabling the BELA Bill to be signed into law.

Democratic Alliance

Mr Nodada began by stating that each Member of the Committee had the right to comment on the matter. He then proceeded to vehemently object to any concurrence originating from the NCOP. He outlined several concerns, beginning with the premature placement of the Bill on the Order Paper for discussion the following day, implying that it undermined the thorough examination of legislation by parliamentarians. He criticised the Committee's perceived role as a mere rubberstamp for laws, rather than engaging in comprehensive scrutiny. Mr Nodada also highlighted procedural flaws in dealing with the Bill, spanning from the NA to the NCOP and the present Committee meeting. He lamented the lack of substantive discussion and noted opposition, as well as the failure to adequately address the changes made by the NCOP.

Mr Nodada elaborated further, emphasising the significant procedural flaws and premature placement of the report on the Order Paper, which he deemed as merely a box-ticking exercise. He criticised this approach for reducing Parliament to a mere voting mechanism, devoid of meaningful engagement with legislation.

Regarding the amended clauses, Mr Nodada expressed appreciation for the inclusion of some inputs, particularly regarding the powers of school governing bodies. However, he highlighted concerns about the centralisation of power in Clauses 4 and 5, which could potentially undermine the autonomy of schools. He argued against giving unelected bureaucrats excessive control over admissions and language policies, stressing the importance of consulting school governing bodies who represent the interests of their communities.

Mr Nodada underscored the need to avoid overcrowded classrooms and prioritise quality education, advocating for mother tongue education and empowering schools to determine their language policies and admission criteria in consultation with school governing bodies. He suggested that interventions should involve the HOD with an appeal mechanism to the MECs…

The Chairperson interrupted Mr Nodada to inform him that his allocated time had elapsed.

However, Mr Nodada continued to address his concerns. He argued against imposing medium instructions on schools and stressed the importance of consultation with individual schools.

Mr Nodada raised another significant concern regarding central procurement, highlighting the potential burden placed on schools and the risks associated with centralisation. He cited previous failures in the case of school nutrition tenders. He warned of similar issues with the procurement of learner and teacher support materials (LTSM), particularly in regions like the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

He advocated for a system where schools could opt into centralised procurement if desired, rather than being compelled to participate. Mr Nodada touched upon concerns regarding homeschooling before being interrupted once again by the Chairperson, who noted that his allotted time had long expired.

The Chairperson reiterated that Mr Nodada’s time was up.

Mr Nodada objected to the three-minute limitation imposed on discussing legislation, particularly considering the significant amendments involved. He argued that restricting their input to three minutes was inadequate given the complexity of the matter.

(In the midst of a heated exchange, the Chairperson eventually called for Mr Nodada to be removed from the discussion)

Economic Freedom Fighters

Mr Madlingozi expressed gratitude to the Chairperson and acknowledged the legal advisor’s clarification that the B version of the Bill was created through constitutional and legal means. He advocated for moving forward with the Bill, emphasising it was headed in the right direction. Mr Madlingozi suggested that alternative processes should be considered instead of central procurement, highlighting the changes made in the D-version of the Bill.

He stressed the importance of decolonising education and urged for swift action. Mr Madlingozi reiterated the belief that the Bill should not be returned to the public for further consultation, as it would delay progress for future generations. He underscored the need to protect the Bill from obstruction and ensure it positively impacted children's lives. Mr Madlingozi concluded by expressing support for the Bill's advancement through the National Assembly.

African Christian Democratic Party

Ms Sukers began by stating the ACDP’s rejection of the concurrence, as per their previous correspondence. She then expressed gratitude to Ms Ngema for addressing Rule 4 issues. Ms Sukers highlighted concerns regarding the lack of clarity on the reason for suspending the rule and the absence of objective urgency to pass the law. She emphasised the need for a written opinion if another committee had received conflicting advice.

Ms Sukers criticised the current meeting's purpose, noting that it was focused on concurrence with amendments by the NCOP rather than considering a draft report. She highlighted the absence of a report for consideration. She stressed that political reasons were not considered valid by courts for underpraising legislation, especially considering the Bill's ten-year development process.

Ms Sukers continued by highlighting the history of the Bill, noting that Parliament had requested a report due to public outcry over five years ago, and the issues raised by the public remained unaddressed. She pointed out procedural errors made due to undue haste since the Bill's introduction in the NA over two years ago.

Addressing Ms Ngema’s statement on central procurement, Ms Sukers requested a written explanation of this significant change and proposed referring it to the NCOP for comment. She raised concerns about penalties in Clause 2 and the use of "just cause" in Clause 7, noting that these concepts were not well-defined in law. She emphasised the importance of opposition in identifying errors, as exemplified by the correction needed in the D-version of the Bill passed yesterday.

Ms Sukers questioned the procedural steps to correct the error in the D-version and whether mediation would be necessary. She reiterated the rejection of the concurrence and outlined objections to various clauses in the current version of the Bill.

Inkatha Freedom Party

Mr S Ngcobo (IFP) expressed his thanks and greeted the Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee. He began by stating the IFP's disappointment that an item was already scheduled for discussion the following day while they were still deliberating on matters today. Despite this, Mr Ngcobo mentioned that he was waiving their right to speak on the matter of concurrence as a matter of principle. He concluded.

Ms Van Der Walt apologised for her temporary absence due to network issues and raised a concern regarding the Chairperson's accusation of her being out of order for referencing a political party. She pointed out that others had spoken on behalf of their parties, and everyone in the Committee had speaking rights until a vote was taken. Ms Van Der Walt emphasised that individuals cannot be prevented from speaking in a Committee meeting and requested her concerns be noted for the record.

The Chairperson acknowledged the concern but stated that Ms Van Der Walt was again out of order. Nevertheless, she redirected the discussion to the task of drafting the report, instructing the Committee Secretariat to include objections and the parties involved. She urged Members to pay attention to the process.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B2D-2022]

The Committee Secretariat thanked the Chairperson and reported on behalf of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education regarding the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B2D-2022], dated 15 May. The report stated that the Committee had reviewed the proposed amendments by the NCOP to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill [B2D-2022], which was referred to it on Tuesday, 14 May 2024. The report indicated that the Committee agreed to the amendments and adopted the amended Bill. He noted objections to concurrence on B2D-2022 from the Democratic Alliance and the African Christian Democratic Party. An abstention was recorded from the Inkatha Freedom Party. (see attached)

The Chairperson remarked that the report being discussed was the one that had generated much discussion. She highlighted that the Committee had addressed it, and now sought Members' adoption of the report for presentation in plenary tomorrow, enabling debate on the matter.

A Member proposed adopting it as it was, with amendments to include both the parties that agreed and those who objected. She stressed the importance of transparency.

Mr Moroatshehla seconded the motion, leading to the report's adoption.

The Chairperson thanked the Members for their input and declared the report adopted.

Ms van Zyl announced that the DA would submit a report to the Committee Secretariat on the matter. Similarly, Ms Sukers of the ACDP stated they would do the same and requested their report be included in the adopted report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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