Older Persons Bill Redraft: Department briefing

Social Development

03 November 2005
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


4 November 2005

Ms T Tshivhase (ANC)

Documents Handed Out:
Department briefing
Older Persons' Bill [B68B - 2003]
Department report on the Costing of the Older Persons Bill
V5 Final Report: Costing of the Older Persons Bill [April 2005]

The Department of Social Development briefed the Committee on the amendments made to the Older Persons Bill (B68B – 2003). The input from the Public Hearings on the Older Persons Bill that took place on 31 August 2005 had been taken into consideration when the Department had redrafted the Bill.

Members participated in a feedback session with the Department on the Amendments made to individual chapters. Members were pleased with the amendments made to the Bill and requested legal advice on the new proposals discussed in the meeting. The Committee were keen to have the amendments adopted as soon as possible.

Department briefing
Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief-Director of the Department of Social Development, briefed the Committee on the amendments made to the Older Persons Bill. The presentation included a background to the public hearings, the rearrangement of sections, the appointment of drafters, the Departmental process and the final amendments. Observations made by the Department were that the Bill had not been reviewed, the chapter on the enabling environment had been streamlined and the only way community-based services could be included was through a new chapter. The rest of the Bill had remained the same, with amendments being informed and adjusted according to public comment.

The Department’s response to the public hearings was detailed in the changes made to the preamble and definitions in the Bill. A distinction had been made between home community-based care for older persons and poverty relief programs. Costing was based on three scenarios – basic care, intermediate care and tertiary care. Administrative costs for the implementation of the programs were provided both for the National and Provincial Departments, and would include service providers.

Adv M Masutha (ANC) commented that the Committee had not yet finalised the report on the public hearings. The Department’s response had been positive but the Committee would have to go through the public hearings.
He noted that no provision had been made for redrafts of the Bill after it had been through the NCOP. The Committee could not formally consider the amendments because it had not been through the NCOP. He suggested that the Department revise the Bill in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.

Mr M Waters (DA) asked about the process of implementing the Bill. He queried whether the Bill had to go to Cabinet and noted that many issues required clarity.

Ms Vuyelwa Nhlapo, Deputy Director-General for the Department of Social Development, responded that the Department had to discuss the raised matters with advisors.

Adv Masutha noted that the Bill had to go back to the NCOP, where its revision would need to be renewed. The Committee could only then consider the Bill. The Bill had to be handled in the correct legislative manner so that it could be passed successfully.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether a facility shared among a number of older persons could be officially registered.

Mr B Solo (ANC) questioned the management of legislative process. He asked how the process would be legitimised.

Adv Masutha responded that the process involved having the Department propose the amendments to the Committee. Once the amendments were passed, it would go back to the NCOP. If the NCOP supported the amendments, it would go to the President. If the NCOP rejected the amendments then there would be mediation between the concerned parties.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) noted that the Committee and the Department should engage with state-law advisors concerning a number of issues. He suggested that the Committee advise the Department with a framework of issues from the public hearings. He noted that a schedule should be followed to advance the process.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked whether the presentation could be adapted into a set of Amendments. She queried the timeframe for the process and whether it was feasible.

Adv Masutha responded that the legal section of the Department had come to see the Committee concerning the draft. Any changes to the Bill had to have the support of the Minister and the Director-General. The draft in its current form could not be considered. He stated that the state law advisor had to deal with the technical issues surrounding the Bill. He proposed that the Department meet with the state law advisor to consider the policy perspective.

Ms Rajbally asked what timeframe the Committee had for concluding the Bill.

Ms Nhlapo stated that issues around process and content had been raised during the public hearings. The Department needed a report from the Committee to provide a technically correct amended version. The process was aiming to be complete by early 2006

Mr Waters asked whether the amended Bill could be used with the pubic hearings to promote further discussion.

Mr Nzimande noted that there was a disjuncture in the conceptualisation of certain programs. He asked how the Bill determined what achievements would be made. He queried how the Department dealt with the conceptualisation issues.

Ms Nhlapo responded that the Department had not yet ‘unpacked’ the role the government’s existing policies.

Ms Kela discussed each chapter of the revised Bill with the Committee. The discussion highlighted the amendments in the presentation in cross-reference with the Bill.

Ms Dudley suggested that the definition of a ‘natural person’ be included in the Bill.

Adv Masutha noted that the Committee had to consult with state law advisors on changing the Bill because of technical issues. He noted, in relation to Chapter Two, that intersectional collaboration had been important. The Committee and other role-players had to collaborate.

The Department had to reflect on structural issues in the Bill and there was a need for co-ordination between different categories of older persons. Clause 3 in the "rights" Chapter needed refining. Considerations had to be given to the socio-economic impact of additional rights. He suggested that the Committee confine themselves to specific aspects of the Bill and not broaden its scope too much.

Ms Nhlapo responded that the Department focussed on the existing rights of older persons. The Department would seek legal advice on the term "rights".

The Chairperson requested, in relation to Chapter Three, that homes owned by older persons be subsidised.

Ms Nhlapo responded that norms and standards would be developed in the future.

Adv Masutha noted that if norms and standards were related to minimum services then it would cut across more than one Department. He questioned whether the Committee would want that type of synergy.

Ms Nhlapo responded that legislation was not limited to the Social Development Committee but would affect the services of other Departments as well.

Adv Masutha stated that the laws had to be cross-referenced with other laws. Broad issues around health care had to be referred to health care laws. He noted that discrimination toward older persons should be barred and access barriers should be removed for older persons’ admission to homes.

Ms Nhlapo responded that the Department would take the input into consideration. Pertinent matters would be discussed and the Department would review its checks and balances.

The meeting was adjourned.


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