Children's Amendment Bill: Department briefing

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


17 October 2006
Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill: HEALTH DEPARTMENT RESPONSE AND ADOPTION;

Ms J Masilo (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Health Department response to provinces’ concerns about Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill
Provincial Final Mandates on the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill: Part1, & Part2
Department of Social Development briefing on the Children's Amendment Bill

The Health Department briefly addressed the concerns previously raised by the North West, Gauteng and Northern Cape provinces about the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill. This is detailed in attached response document. Final mandates were then read out and all provinces accepted all clauses, including Clauses 1 and 10 with amendments. The Committee clarified that they would like to see the regulations before implementation.

The Department of Social Development then briefed the Committee on the Children's Amendment Bill. The Members raised points about, among others, child labour, corporal punishment in the home, child adoptions by foreign nationals, building more reform schools, inadequate numbers of social workers to implement programmes, and local government responsibility for partial care.


Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill
The Chairperson welcomed Health Department officials to address the various concerns raised by the North West, Gauteng and Northern Cape provinces. She had heard that the Department was concerned that the NCOP was delaying the passage of the Bill, and felt Members were not doing so but only attending to their duty thoroughly.

Ms F Mazibuko (ANC - Gauteng) said that the Department was out of order. If they had a problem, they should give an official statement to the Committee.

Mr S Ramasalla, Department Director: Legal Services, said that this was not the Department's position. It had no complaint with the process.

Department briefing
Mr A Pretorius, Department Director: Food Control, addressed the concerns raised by the provinces. These are detailed in the document attached. He added that the definition of mollusc would be simplified as requested.

He said that at a previous meeting, the Committee had requested that the Act include a provision that the Committee see the regulations before the Act’s publication, but this request was difficult. The Chairperson clarified that Members only wanted to see the regulations before implementation, and these were not in the Act. Mr Ramasalla agreed.

The Chairperson then asked Members to read the final mandates from their provinces. She then went through the Bill and Members accepted all clauses. Clauses 1 and 10 were accepted with amendments. The Chairperson then read the Committee Report of Acceptance. She asked Members whether they would need a debate in the plenary or would prefer to just give a statement.

Mr Tolo (ANC – Mpumalanga) proposed that a statement be issued. This was seconded by Ms Lamoela (DA – Western Cape). All the Members agreed.

Children's Amendment Bill

Department briefing

Dr M Mabetoa, Department Chief Director, explained that her presentation (as attached) was a formal summary of the Bill. She added that the issue of corporal punishment needed to be further clarified. The Constitution stated that children had to be protected from punishment from “private sources”. This raised the question around corporal punishment in the home. The challenge for the Department was to provide for this in the Bill.

Referring to the costing of the Bill, she said more social workers were needed. There was under-funding of services for children, as the Department was currently only providing 25% of services. Regarding adoptions, the Child Care Act of 1993 was still being implemented. This was because the regulations of the Children's Act were still being drafted. It was hoped that drafting would be completed by October 2007.

The Chairperson requested that the Committee be briefed before implementation, and Dr Mabetoa agreed.

Ms Mazibuko (ANC – Gauteng) pointed out that the wording of the Bill needed to be re-examined. It stated that the provincial legislatures ‘appropriated funds’ - this gave the impression that the provinces gave money to organisations. This point needed to be clarified. She also asked if the Act addressed the issue of children brought from neighbouring countries for the purposes of adoption. Some people were using such children in order to get foster care grants.

Dr Mabetoa said that the legislation said that the provinces ‘appropriated’ funds while the National Department ‘allocated’ funds. She agreed that this needed to be clarified for the lay person to understand. Adoption of SADC children was dealt with in Chapter 16 of the Children's Act. At present however, adoptions were dealt with under the Child Care Act. Under this Act, adoptions were only registered with the Department after the adoption had taken place. Chapter 16 of the Children's Act provided for a register of prospective adoptive parents. Once the Children's Act regulations were completed and the Act was implemented, this problem would be addressed.

Mr Tolo (ANC – Mpumalanga) referred to the costing of the Bill and asked whether Treasury had the funds to give the Department. There was only R25 billion for all departments – if the Bill was passed, would they be able to convince Treasury to hand over the funds?

Dr Mabetoa said that Treasury had promised that they could receive the R6 billion needed. The problem was not that there was not enough money. The Department could not absorb all the money since there were not enough social workers. This problem needed to be looked at comprehensively.

Ms N Madlala-Magubane (ANC – Gauteng) asked about the situation of foreign nationals adopting children and then taking them out of the country.

Ms Mabetoa said that at present, children were first given to South African families before being offered to foreigners. She reassured Members that it was not easy for outsiders to adopt South African children.

Mr J Thlagale (UCDP – North West) asked why only two provinces had reform schools. He wanted to know if the Department had any intentions of building more in the other provinces.

Dr Mabetoa said that the situation regarding reform schools had a particular history. The Act governing this was enacted in the 1930s. The Department of Social Development was in discussion with the Department of Education to administer these schools. The former department was keen to have at least one per province. These reform schools were needed to deal with children who had broken the law.

Ms Lamoela (DA – Western Cape) referred to ‘partial care’ covered in the Bill, and said that many municipalities did not have the capacity to provide for this. She wanted to know who would be kept accountable. She also felt that there were too many rights given to children, and the rights of the parents to discipline their children had not been taken into account. Children were also free to enter and leave shelters. She also wanted to know why there was such a big difference between the high and low costings of the Bill that Members had learned about at the previous week's workshop.

Dr Mabetoa said that there should be programmes to teach parents to discipline children without using physical punishment. The challenge was to monitor this in the home. Referring to partial care, she said that an agreement had to be reached between the municipality and the province. The province would only hand it over to the municipality if they felt the latter had capacity to implement. She explained further that the different costings took into account scenarios with either sufficient or insufficient social workers, and thus the need for auxiliary social workers.

The Chairperson referred to child labour. The Bill stated that children could work from the age of 15. The definition of a child however was a person under 18. She said that the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme now fell under the Department of Social Development and not Education, but the former had been slow to facilitate.

Dr Mabetoa replied that the Basic Conditions of Employment Act stated that the employable age was 15. This was aligned with the age at which children were allowed to leave school as stated in the School Act. The Department of Social Development had not taken over ECD from Education, but they were working together. The Department had the responsibility to allocate subsidies for children from 0 to 4 years.

The meeting was adjourned.


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