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SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
27 February 2007
SOUTH AFRICAN RED CROSS SOCIETY BILL: BRIEFING & ADOPTION; IMMIGRATION AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING
Acting Chairperson: Mr B Tolo (ANC, Mpumulanga)
Documents handed out:
South African Red Cross Society and Legal Protection of Certain Emblems Bill [B25-2006]
Powerpoint presentation South African Red Cross Society Bill
Immigration Amendment Bill [B28-2006]
Powerpoint presentation on Immigration Amendment Bill
Committee programme [available here on 2 March 2007]
The Department of Health recapped the reasons behind the South African Red Cross Society and Legal Protection of Certain Emblems Bill. The Bill would give formal recognition to the Red Cross Society, which worked closely with the Department on health programmes, disasters and emergencies. South Africa had undertaken to promote and encourage development of the South African Red Cross. Recognition would include formalisation of some community-based projects, benefits from Red Cross’s international status and its sustainable air mercy services, and its ability to coordinate rapid international responses and donor funding in times of disaster. The pertinent provisions of the Bill were summarised. Members voted unanimously to approve the Bill.
The Department of Home Affairs summarised the main clauses and purpose of the Immigration Amendment Bill, which would amend the Immigration Act. Definitions would be added and clarified. Section 10(2) of the Act would be amended to list the various permits, which would include cross border and transit permits and temporary resident permits. Section 10(b)(1) would be amended in respect of transit visas, which would henceforth not be required if a person did not make use of transit areas at ports of entry. The amendment of Section 11(2) would permit visitors to undertake certain types of work in South Africa. The amendment of Section 19(5) would extend the period of intra company work permits from the present two years to four years. Section 20 would be amended to permit the issuing of a permit to the spouse and dependent children of a retired person. The power to withdraw permits was clarified and extended. Consequential amendments were listed. Members queried the Director General’s power to undertake certain tasks, and clarity was sought in relation to transit visas for those who did not require entry visas to South Africa. Substantive discussions on the Bill would ensue in the following week.
The Committee programme was approved. The tour to Britain was still being investigated.
Mr B Tolo (ANC, Mpumulanga) was appointed as Acting Chairperson
South African Red Cross Society and Legal Protection of Certain Emblems Bill B25-2006 (the Bill): Briefing by Department of Health (DOH)
Mr Peter Fuhri, Director, DOH recapped briefly the provisions of the South African Red Cross Society and Legal Protection of Certain Emblems Bill. He indicated that a detailed briefing on the Bill had already taken place. He reminded Members that the background to the Bill was the desire of the Department of Health to legislate for formal recognition to the Red Cross Society. This Society worked closely with DOH on health programmes, as well as disasters and emergencies. All interactions to date had been on an informal basis. However, the Red Cross Society was a member of the international federation of the Red Cross and South Africa had undertaken to promote and encourage the development of the South African Red Cross Society. There were about 147 national societies throughout the world and about 45 were recognised formally, by way of legislation, as an auxiliary of the State in times of emergency. Another portion of the Bill sought to protect the emblems of the Red Cross. Benefits of the formal recognition would include formalisation of some community-based projects, benefits obtained from the Red Cross’s international status, and its sustainable air mercy services. In times of disaster, Red Cross was able to pull together international responses rapidly and to assist with donor funding and networking.
Mr Sello Ramasala, Director: Legal Services, DOH summarised the pertinent provisions of the Bill. He briefly summarised the content of the clauses of the Bill. He emphasised that Red Cross personnel who breached the principles of the Red Cross and became involved in war crimes would not be protected under this Act but would be dealt with in the normal course of events.
The Acting Chairperson read out the Motion of Desirability. Members agreed unanimously to all clauses of the Bill.
The Chairperson suggested that the short title be amended by the changing of the reference to "2006" to "2007" in the description of the Bill.
Ms F Mazibuko (ANC, Gauteng) queried whether this was correct, as the National Assembly had passed the Bill in 2006.
Mr M Sulliman (ANC, Northern Cape) noted that if the short title was changed this might be regarded as an amendment requiring to be re-passed by the National Assembly.
Mr H Smuts, State Law Advisor stated that the legislation procedures section of Parliament would attend to this type of correction administratively, and the Bill, once named as an Act, would bear the date 2007.
Mr D Erasmus, Director: Drafting, Department of Home Affairs (DHA) noted the difference between assenting to the Bill, signature by the President and the Bill coming into operation. He confirmed that the Act would be assigned a 2007 date.
Members approved the Bill unanimously, and resolved that it would be acceptable merely to make a statement in the House.
Immigration Amendment Bill: Briefing by Department of Home Affairs (DHA)
Ms Jayshree Naidoo, Chief Director, Legal Services, DHA noted that the purpose of the Immigration Amendment Bill was to amend the Immigration Act of 2002 to provide for clarification of procedures and permits, to align the Act with drafting principles, and to amend certain definitions.
She noted that the definitions to be amended were the addition of “affiliate” “branch” and “subsidiary” and the clarification of “departure” to mean exit from a port of entry to another country.
Section 10(2) of the Act was to be amended to list the various permits, which would include cross border and transit permits and temporary resident permits.
Section 10(b)(1) of the Act currently required a person who was in transit through South Africa to have a transit visa. In future this would not be required if a foreigner were to be travelling by bus or motor vehicles, as they would not make use of transit areas at ports of entry.
Section 11(2) of the Act currently provided that the holder of a visitor’s permit could not conduct work in South Africa. The amendment proposed would change this position so that a foreigner could be given the opportunity to work provided that the activity was not prescribed.
Section 19(5) of the Act provided that a person who was in the employ of a foreign company could obtain an intra company work permit. The amendment Bill would extend the period of the permit from two to four years.
Section 20 of the Act currently did not allow a retired person holding a permit to be accompanied by a spouse or children. The amendment Bill would allow an appropriate permit to be issued to a spouse and dependent children.
Section 28 of the Act, dealing with withdrawal of a permanent resident permit, was to be amended so that the Director General could withdraw the permit if the holder was convicted of “any offence”. Currently the power to withdraw was restricted to the crimes listed in the Schedule.
Clauses 12 and 13 were the short title and commencement. The consequential amendments were listed.
The Chairperson indicated that substantive engagement on the Bill would take place the following week.
Mr Sulliman asked for clarity on why the Director General was given the power to undertake certain tasks, rather than the Minister.
Mr Erasmus replied that the Director General was responsible for implementation of the legislation at a practical level. The Minister would generally make the regulations and policy. Where the legislation required the Director General to do something “in the prescribed manner” this indicated that he would be complying with Ministerial rulings. Visitors’ permits were administrative by nature, and in fact most decisions on whether or not to renew such permits would be delegated down to Chief Directors at the provinces.
The Chairperson queried Clause 3, and asked for clarity whether a person who was exempt from holding a visa for travel to South Africa would now need a visa in order to travel through South Africa in transit. If so, this did not appear to make sense.
Mr Erasmus stated that a visa would allow a person to travel from one port of entry to another. If a person was visa exempt they would not have to have a visa for South Africa, but would be required to have a visa for the next country to be visited, as this would effectively authorise the travel from one border post to the next.
Mr Smuts added that the provisions of subsection (4)(a), as mentioned in the amendment, stated that the Minister was able to exempt a person from having to hold a visa. If the traveller was already exempt from having to have a visa for entry to South Africa, then he would also be exempt from having to hold a transit visa for South Africa. He would have had to acquire a visa for the ultimate destination.
Mr Erasmus noted that from a practical point of view it was necessary to document all people entering South Africa, as visa exemptions normally held good for a certain period, and it was necessary to ensure that travellers did not overstay the period and thus become illegal immigrants.
Mr Yusuf Simons, Acting Deputy Director General: Immigration, DHA noted that the details of all persons entering South Africa were captured, irrespective of whether visas were issued, in order to record movement.
The Chairperson confirmed that further substantive issues would be discussed in the following week.
A draft programme had been distributed to Members, who were asked to make suggestions as to what needed to be added. Ms Mazibuko proposed that the programme was clear and should be adopted, subject to correction of a typographical error. She also asked that the Medical Research Council, when addressing the Committee, should not be limited, as the programme suggested, to “microbiology issues” but could deal with any issues.
The draft programme was adopted.
The Chairperson noted that funding was a problem in respect of the planned tour to Britain to study good practice in health and education matters. The Committee would still be engaging with other options, including the possibility of only a limited delegation undertaking the visit.
The meeting was adjourned.
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