Electoral Bill [B69-98]: discussion; Adoption Matters Amendment Bill [B80-98]: briefing

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


7 September 1998

Document(s) handed out

Proposed Amendments to the Electoral Bill (Department)
Proposed Amendments to the Electoral Bill (IEC)

This second sitting of the Select Committee on the Electoral Bill was attended by a large deputation from Home Affairs who proposed two amendments to clause 1 and clause 6, and were adamant they could deliver new bar-coded Identity Documents in time for the election. Judge Kriegler, IEC head, and two advisors presented alternative proposed amendments to clause 1 and clause 11. Judge Kriegler believes everyone who has a valid identity document, of any kind, should be allowed to vote, and that after the election all persons with IDs which were issued before 1986 should be de-registered as a voter and required to reregister (clause 11).

The Adoption Matters Amendment Bill was presented. There is some urgency to have it passed as the deadline for implementation is February 1999.

The Department of Home Affairs, represented by the Director General and Mr Tredoux and several others, came with a set of proposed amendments (clause 1 and clause 6) in order to clarify the problem of new applicants for IDs who are not yet on the population register, a prerequisite before one can register as a voter.
The Director General assured the meeting that the department has no back-log, and that it has the capacity to produce bar-coded IDs.

Mr Tredoux explained that the amendment (clause 6) will have the effect that another document will be made available for those who apply for but have not yet received their bar-coded ID book. This will enable them to register as a voter but this procedure will not continue after registration has ended. Therefore at this stage, three documents could be used for voter registration:
1. Bar-coded ID
2. Prescribed document described above
3. Temporary ID

Judge Kriegler did not understand why clause 6 is necessary because anyone who has an old ID is already on population register, whereas first time applicants are not.

The Director General agreed that citizens with old IDs are on population register but new applicants are catered for here.

The departmental legal advisors said that this amendment is for all those who do not have bar-coded IDs.

Judge Kriegler said that the IEC has really tried to bridge the gap with Home Affairs and everyone wants the voters roll to be as good as possible. The bar - coded ID is first prize, but according to the HSRC research, there are 2.5 million without an ID at all.

The IEC recommends that everyone who has a valid ID (even TBVC) should be allowed to register as a voter and, at the same time, apply for bar-coded ID, and in the meanwhile issue them with a certificate (see new Schedule 5 in their proposed amendments) with a photograph, giving fair warning that this will be the last time they can be without a bar-coded ID. Judge Kriegler believes that there could be a constitutional challenge if people who have a valid ID (valid for all other functions) are not allowed to vote. This would mean a real snarl-up in process and could prevent the election from taking place altogether. He strongly advocates the use of all valid IDs and then the IEC will be able to get on with the job, including voter-education, staff training etc.

A committee member commented that she did not agree with the HSRC statistics. She said it is well known that there are fraudulent IDs and these should be re-issued. Judge Kriegler accepted that this affected the credibility of the voters' roll but this was less risky than not allowing millions to vote.

Mr Selfe (DP) said that everyone wants a free and fair election. This committee is made up of amateurs on the subject. Surely the two departments must settle their differences

Mr Cwele said that it was parliament that needed to make the final decision and implement it.

Mr Tredoux pointed out that with regard to the problem of first time voters, these people are not on the population register so they need to apply for new ID and will be covered by the new section in clause 6.

Those with TBVC documents are not on the population register, so they should re-apply for new IDs. Mr Tredoux maintains however that old TBVC documents are valid until the Minister, by notice in the Government Gazette, terminates though details need to be verified when the new application happens.

A committee member expressed his doubt regarding the capacity in places like Transkei to process the necessary IDs.

Neither Home Affairs or IEC were prepared to take a stance - the decision must be made by parliament.

At this juncture the committee started working through the Bill, point by point.

The department explained their proposed amendment to clause 1. The deletion of "section 16 of" cleans up the document as its presence is unnecessary. The advisor said this was in line with what they were already doing. Mr Cwele felt the committee was confused by this and would like to see a rationale in writing, Kriegler asked how one could issue anything on a repealed Act, besides this section 16 actually applied to a card.

On new clause 6: the department is already drafting a form to include a photo. Judge Kriegler was astounded that they can preempt the law. Besides the document was designed to register as a voter, not to vote.

Mr Cwele thought that this would give the voter time to receive his/her ID, having made application for it at the time of registration.

Judge Kriegler responded by asking what would happen if it had not arrived by election day.

The IEC proposed clause 1 is meant for all time. The IEC proposed amendment for Clause 11 would give the Minister the right to de-register a voter after this election (those not having bar-coded IDs).

A committee member raised a concern about municipal and provincial elections.

A law advisor replied that in terms of the constitution, there is provincial power to regulate local government, and this law does not say anything. In fact clause 18 and 19 could well be deleted, but will remain because local government is restructuring, and new legislation within the principles of Chapter 7 of constitution still has to happen.

The discussion on the Electoral Bill will continue at a special meeting the following day.

Adoption Matters Amendment Bill
Adv. Masutha gave a briefing to the committee on this Bill. February 1999 is the latest date for this Bill to be effected. Three laws are affected by this Bill:
The Child Care Act of 1983; The Natural Fathers of Children Born out of Wedlock Act of 1997 and the Births and Registration Act, 1992.

Section 18(4)(d) of the Child Care Act is unconstitutional. For adoption to take place the law requires the consent of both parents if the child is born inside a marriage, but only the consent of the mother is required if the child is born out of wedlock. However all fathers are entitled to this right, except in cases of rape and incestuous relationships.

A further amendment deals with a social worker’s competency to administer adoption if they are in private practice. They need accreditation because there have been cases of abuse, bribery etc.

Another amendment deals with the legal representation of children in children's courts.

The rest of the meeting was not monitored.


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