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JOINT COMMITTEE ON PROMOTION OF EQUALITY AND PREVENTION OF UNFAIR DISCRIMINATION BILL
24 November 1999
Documents handed out:
List of submissions
Submissions Promotion of Equality
NADEL, a member of the Equality Alliance, presented a submission arguing for the inclusion of HIV/AIDS status, nationality, socio-economic status and family status and responsibility in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination as defined in 'unfair discrimination'. Furthermore a proposal was made for the magistrates' courts to be the court of first instance rather than a tribunal as suggested by other members of the Equality Alliance.
The National Institute for Public Interest Law and Research made various comments on the Preamble of the Bill. On a request by the committee, NIPILAR agreed to submit a draft of what they believe the Preamble should look like.
National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL)
Ms Rikki Minyuku, on behalf of NADEL, argued for the inclusion of HIV/AIDS status, nationality, socio-economic status and family status and responsibility in the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination as defined in 'unfair discrimination'.
Unlike other members of the Equality Alliance who submitted that tribunals would be an effective enforcement mechanism, NADEL believes that the Magistrates' Court would be a better enforcement mechanism. Ms Minyuku acknowledged the large backlogs and the lack of capacity of the Magistrate courts, but submitted that for the sake of accessibility, affordability and expediency the magistrates' courts are a better option. An additional factor is the benefit of the use of existing infrastructure. This will, however, require further training of staff and the increase of human resources. Ms Minyuku expressed the opinion that the development of expertise and experience in handling discrimination cases might pave the way for improvements in the magistrates' courts.
Mr M Moosa (ANC) pointed out that NADEL seemed to subscribe to the idea that the list of grounds of discrimination should be closed. He went on to say that a closed list does not cater for future grounds of discrimination that might arise.
Ms Minyuku said that NADEL is not saying that the grounds of discrimination should be a closed list. NADEL has a problem with the inclusion of "or any other recognised ground" in the definition of `unfair discrimination'. The definition gives no indication of how an unlisted ground becomes recognised as a prohibited ground. The direct result of this will be the difficulty and uncertainty in establishing new grounds of unfair discrimination.
Mr M Pheko (PAC) asked whether NADEL is suggesting that "rural neglect" should be a ground of discrimination.
Ms R Minyuku responded that the suggestion was made that in considering socio-economic status as a ground of discrimination, factors such as unemployment, lack of resources and level of education must be considered. These factors apply most often to those in the rural areas which have been neglected.
National Institute for Public Interest Law and Research (NIPILAR)
Mr Ngubeni ka Nkophe focussed on the Preamble of the Bill which he criticised as unbalanced, ideological and potentially harmful to the cause of equality and preventing unfair discrimination. Amongst other things, he disagreed with the use of phrases like "throughout the history of South Africa" stating that such a phrase does not specify which period is referred to. He further attacked the use of phrases like "previously disadvantaged" as giving the impression that there is a previous instead of a continuing discrimination.
Mr M Moosa (ANC) pointed out that NIPILAR is the only organisation to have made submissions on the Preamble and commended Mr Nkophe thereon.
Mr M Pheko also commended NIPILAR saying that the PAC on many occasions had complained about the language used in the Bill. He promised that the committee would take note of the contributions made.
Ms Z Capa (ANC) asked Mr Nkophe to give an indication of exactly what definition of person is appropriate as he disagrees with the use of 'persons' in the Preamble.
Mr Nkophe believes the correct word to be used is 'people' and not 'persons'. He warned that what is said must always be clear.
Adv Madasa (ACDP), as a point of clarity, asked whether NIPILAR suggests that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are more capable of dealing with the Bill.
Mr Nkophe said that he had attended several NGO meetings and felt that they are more competent to deal with the bill.
The Chairperson requested that NIPILAR submit their version of what the Preamble should look like.
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