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HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 September 1998
ELECTORAL BILL: DISCUSSION & VOTING ON NCOP AMENDMENTS
Mr Tredoux of the Department of Home Affairs, explained the amendments introduced by the Social Services Select Committee of the NCOP.
After questioning the Home Affairs and IEC officials present, the committee passed all the NCOP amendments making only one amendment to Clause 6 as proposed by the Democratic Party.
The chairperson encouraged parliamentarians to work in their constituencies to promote obtaining the correct identity documents for voting purposes.
Mr Tredoux explained the minor amendments to Clauses 1, 39, 41, 49, 82, 83, 96 and 105. The amendment to Clause 6 makes provision for a temporary identity certificate for the purposes of voter registration for those who do not yet have a bar-coded ID.
Mr Tredoux was asked to go through the process as envisaged by Clause 6:
For those already on the population register, they will be issued with a temporary document on a form prescribed by the Minister when applying for a bar-coded ID.
For those not on the population register, they will have to apply for a late registration of birth first and if particulars are verified, they will be issued with the temporary identity certificate.
Ms Smuts (DP) was concerned that the initial amendment to Clause 6 as suggested by the department in the NCOP differed materially with what was eventually passed. The form that was proposed to be included in the Bill as a schedule had been scrapped. Mr Tredoux assured her that no one would be allowed on to the population register (via a late registration of birth) unless the head offices of Home Affairs were satisfied that substantiating documents had been provided. The temporary identity certificate would not be included in the Bill as a schedule but would be prescribed by the Minister and published in the Government Gazette.
Ms Smuts did not trust the amendment to Clause 6 and requested that it be amended to include the words in bold below:
1. On page 14, after line 8, to add the following subsection:
(2) For the purposes of the general registration of voters contemplated in section 14, an identity document includes a temporary certificate in a form which corresponds materially with a form prescribed by the Minister of Home Affairs by notice in the Government Gazette and issued by the Director-General of Home Affairs to a South African citizen from particulars contained in the population register and who has applied for an identity document.
Although the committee believed this proposed amendment was unnecessary, they accepted this proposal in order to allay concerns.
Many National party members again questioned the department and the IEC closely on the department's capacity to deliver. This concern was echoed by Rev Meshoe (ACDP). Once assurances were given about the capacity to deliver by the Director-General, concerns were then raised about the lack of response to the ID campaign.
The National Party wanted to know how the rate of applications could be enhanced. This was echoed by Mr W Botha (FF). The committee chairperson, Mr D Lockey (ANC), pointed out that additional resources in the form of R36,5 million had recently been made available to the department for this. Mr M Mchunu, CEO of the Independent Electoral Commission, said the IEC intended to launch a voter registration campaign but that they had to wait for the finalisation of the bill under discussion.
Mr Lockey said one could not expect the department to go door-to-door to persuade people to get their identity documents into order. What was important, he said, was that parliamentarians should get out to their constituencies and encourage their constituents to register.
Mr Momberg (ANC) vouched for the effectiveness of the mobile units that provide the ID as well as the photographs free of charge. He had accompanied one the previous Saturday morning and the unit had processed 600 IDs. He added that constituents need to be informed that they come prepared with the necessary affidavits if they did not possess a birth certificate.
The amendments of the NCOP, as well as the Clause 6 additional amendment by this committee, were voted on and all were agreed to.
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