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PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AND SPECIAL PETITIONS STANDING COMMITTEE
1 August 2006
JOUBERT’S MAGISTRATES’ COURT A/B; VAN DER MERWE’S CONSTITUTION FIFTEENTH AMENDMENT BILL ON FLOOR-CROSSING
Chairperson: Ms M Mentor (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Van Der Merwe’s Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill
Joubert's Magistrates’ Court Amendment Bill
Joubert's legislative proposal for Magistrates’ Courts Amendment Bill
Committee Draft Annual Report 2005: available once adopted at Committee Reports
Information on Standing Committee Private Members Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions
The Chairperson informed the Committee that Mr Joubert's proposed Magistrates’ Court Amendment Bill was still being discussed between the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Board of Sheriffs. She expressed disappointment that neither the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government nor the Portfolio Committee on Housing had responded to the Committee’s request for inputs. This would be communicated to the Speaker once the Committee reported on the final legislative proposal.
The Chairperson also informed the Committee that notwithstanding the urgency of dealing with the legislative proposal on the issue of floor-crossing, the Committee first had to deal with other outstanding business. She would brief the media to inform the public of this fact and the process that would be followed to consider that legislative proposal before the Committee.
The Chairperson referred to previous minutes reflecting her disappointment at Members not turning up for meetings, and declared the meeting open although only two Members were present.
Joubert's Magistrates’ Court Amendment Bill
The Chair said that the Bill proposed that people’s houses could not be confiscated by the Sheriff for settlement of debt. If the Bill were passed, only a Magistrates’ Court would be able to order such attachment. The Chair added that because housing is a right listed in the Constitution, there is general agreement that allowing a Sheriff to confiscate someone’s house would violate that person’s constitutional rights.
The Chair explained that in the processing of the legislative proposal, the Committee had contacted the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government, and the Portfolio Committee on Housing for their views. There had been no response, however, from the Committees. The Department of Justice is still consulting on the Bill with the Board of Sheriffs.
The Chair explained that the Committee would put a report on its work on Joubert's legislative proposal to the Speaker’s Office when it was complete, informing the Speaker of the Committee’s endeavours and efforts to involve the two above-mentioned Committees of Parliament over a period of nine months and that they had not responded to the Committee’s requests for their opinion.
Van der Merwe’s proposed Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill on Floor-crossing
The Chair said that there was a lot of public interest in the floor-crossing issue emanating from Mr J van der Merwe’s (IFP) proposed Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill. There was a strong likelihood that this matter would only be dealt with towards the end of September because the proposed Bill had been received only two to three months ago. The Committee already had the proposed Electoral Amendment Bill and the petition of Brigadier J D Krige before it during September.
The Chair added that the Committee was sensitive to the fact that the matter of floor-crossing must be completed as soon as possible because there was only a year left before the next floor-crossing window. The Committee would therefore proceed with the floor-crossing proposal, but only after the petition of Brigadier Krige had been dealt with because of its serious and urgent nature.
The Chair announced that she would be making a statement to the press on floor-crossing the next day. She had been inundated with calls from not only political parties but also members of the public and the amount of public attention could not be ignored if Parliament claimed to be serious about the issue.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether political parties would have an opportunity to express their own feelings before the Chair addressed the media on the matter of floor-crossing.
The Chair replied in the negative. At this stage the public would be informed but during the process an opportunity would be created for political parties to make their input. This media briefing was being held because the Committee, in terms of the rules of Parliament, could not conduct public hearings. There was, however, still a need to hear the views of political parties and Members of Parliament had a right to make their voices heard at any given time. The briefing would outline the process and would also address the issue of the demand for a public hearing.
Ms I Mars (IFP) felt it was very important to take the issue to the public because of the pressure being exerted on political parties.
Members concurred with the processes outlined.
The Chair reminded the Committee that yet again there was poor attendance at a meeting and in future she would be calling by name those Members who were absent in order to establish a record of their attendance.
The meeting adjourned.
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