Adoption of Progress Report of Committee

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Meeting report



25 March 1999


Documents distributed:

Progress report as printed in Announcements, Tablings, Committee Reports (see Appendix)


The Chair, Mr Hofmeyr (ANC) opened the meeting when 19 MPs had arrived. He said the Committee needed to formally adopt its progress report today so that it could be tabled in Parliament tomorrow. Members had received a copy of the report previous to the meeting. The Chair asked if any members had comments or proposals to make. There were no comments, so the Chair called for a vote on adopting the report. All MPs were in favour of adoption.

The Chair said that he would move in the House tomorrow that the public be allowed 60 days to comment on the report, as opposed to the standard 30 days. All MPs were in favour.

The meeting was adjourned.

[The start of the meeting was delayed for 40 minutes as MPs waited for a quorum.]

Appendix: Report of the Constitutional Review Committee

Report, dated 24 March 1999, as follows:

Parliament has, in accordance with section 45 of the Constitution, 1996, and Joint Rule 64, appointed this Constitutional Review Committee. The task of the Committee is to review the Constitution annually and report thereon to Parliament. It may report on any matter that requires attention and may make recommendations to improve the Constitution.

In accordance with Joint Rule 67(2), the Committee, by notice in the public media, invited the public to submit to it written representations on any constitutional matter.

The Committee received 16 submissions. Members of the public requested an extension of the deadline for submissions on the grounds that the advertisement did not reach everyone in time.

3. Main issues raised in submissions

A number of issues were raised in the submissions, but none gave a substantial motivation, except one from the Inkatha Freedom Party. The IFP raised several outstanding issues which prevented it from supporting unconditionally the 1993 Constitution as well as the present Constitution. Generally the submissions raised the following issues:

(1) Death penalty

(a) Reinstatement of death penalty.

(b) Referendum on death penalty.

(2) Abortion

(a) Abolish it.

(b) Consent of the father of the foetus.

(3) Electoral system

(a) Accountability of Members of Parliament.

(4) Satanism

(a) Is satanism covered by section 31 of the Constitution?

(5) Adoption

(a) An adopted child should be told of his or her biological parents at a certain age.

(6) Credit bureau system

(a) Restructuring of the credit bureau system.

(7) Bill of rights

(a) Amendment of various fundamental rights - sections 29, 26 and 35.

(1) The Committee only started functioning late in 1998, after the deadline for submissions has expired. In view of the congested parliamentary programme, as well as a lack of substantial motivation for amendments, the Committee decided that it would commence with its work properly in 1999.

In respect of 1999, it was agreed that the advertisement will run during May, as required by the Joint Rules, but that time for submissions will be given until the end of June. The Committee will still submit a report to Parliament in the third quarter.

When advertising, the Committee will guide the public each year by focusing the discussions on certain issues. This will encourage civil society to make more serious inputs, as they will be aware that there would be serious debate on the issues outlined. Nevertheless, the public may still make representations on any matter relating to the Constitution.

Political parties may identify issues of focus or state departments may submit representations on issues which they regard as areas for improvement in the Constitution.

The Committee may agree on a programme for a few years in advance to make it easier to accommodate the issues raised by smaller parties.

(2) Amendments to Constitution

The Committee considered whether all amendments to the Constitution should be channelled through it. The Committee will debate issues of principle, rather than detailed proposals for constitutional amendment. Should agreement be reached that a specific amendment is required to the Constitution, the normal legislative process will be followed.

(3) Submissions already received

All those who made submissions, will be supplied with a copy of the Report submitted to Parliament.

(4) Constitutional education

The Committee felt that it should play a role in making people more aware of the Constitution. It was decided that this matter would stand over for the new committee.

Subcommittee Report: 20/10/98

Constitutional Review Committee

Discussion document

20 October 1998


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