A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AND SPECIAL PETITIONS: STANDING COMMITTEE
02 November 2007
LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL TO REPEAL CHURCH ACTS: DUTCH REFORMED CHURCH UNION ACT
APOSTOLIC FAITH MISSION OF SOUTH AFRICA ACT, METHODIST CHURCH OF SOUTH AFRICA &
BIBLE SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA ACT
Chairperson: Ms P Mentor (ANC)
Dutch Reformed Churches Union Repeal Act
Methodist Church of South Africa (Private) Repeal Bill
Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa (Private) Repeal Bill
Bible Society of South Africa Repeal Bill
Submissions dated 2nd November 2007 by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
Preliminary Response Document: Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa
The South African Council of Churches Submission
Correspondence from Bible Society of South Africa
Committee Meeting Minutes 24 August 2007; 07 September 2007; 19 October 2007; and 25 October 2007
Audio recording of meeting
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had been invited to a joint meeting in the next week with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Independent Electoral Commission to discuss issues around the van der Merwe Floor Crossing proposal.
Mr Gerber had submitted a proposal for the repeal of pieces of legislation concerning specific churches. The affected churches had been invited to make submissions on the proposals, particularly on the effect that repeal might have on any vested interests around property, pensions and other matters. The Methodist Church, the Apostolic Faith Mission and the South African Council of Churches gave some preliminary responses, but all requested further time to consult more fully. The Methodist Church was also concerned about the impact of the proposed repeal upon the title deeds of their properties, and the fact that the Act covered six Southern African countries. It objected strongly to the implications that the Church was anything other than one and undivided. The Apostolic Faith Mission requested that the proposal be withdrawn at the moment so it could submit amendments to the clauses in contention. It was not opposed to the repeal of its Act, but was concerned with any detrimental implications and the need for a transitional mechanism. The South African Council of Churches agreed that there was no need for legislation that was seen as giving status or privileges to one religious group over another. The implications of any repeal on juristic relations must be considered, and the State should not arbitrate or mediate on the traditions of religious communities.
The Committee also heard submissions from the South African Law Reform Commission, who warned that there might be unintended consequences. The Committee was concerned that there had been no direct submissions from the Department of Justice. Members discussed the issues raised, and concluded that more time must be given, but that the matter should be finalised before February 2007. Some misperceptions were corrected, the procedures were explained, and the churches concerned were asked to obtain legal opinion on their property implications and forward this to the Committee, along with redrafted submissions confined to the proposal before the Committee.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee’s right to hold public hearings would shortly be raised for discussion. The Minister of Finance had indicated that either he, or a delegated official, would attend a meeting to clarify the Kellerman petition. Parliament had taken responsibility for the embarrassment around the cancellation of the trip to Brazil and would apologise to Brazil. The Minutes of meetings between 24 August 2007and 25 October 2007 were adopted with amendments.
Gerber Legislative Proposal: Submissions from South African Council of Churches (SACC) and Methodist Church of SA (MCSA)
Mr Keith Vermeulen, Director, Parliamentary offices, South African Council of Churches (SACC) attended the meeting and, at the request of the Chairperson, explained that he was carrying two mandates, one for the South African Council of Churches and one as a brief from the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. He was also recently appointed Information Officer for the MCSA. He was, however, here speaking on behalf of the SACC, or which the Bishop was also a Member.
The SACC had complied a statement drafted after consultation with not only the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church but also the leader of the Apostolic Faith Mission. Although the SACC were not representing the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC), the statement also included input from the DRC. The CEO of the Bible Society had also spoken with the SACC but the Bible Society was not a member of the SACC and therefore he did not have a mandate to speak on their behalf.
Mr K Matthee, Legal Advisor to the Presiding Bishop, MCSA, submitted that he had been briefed to look at the Methodist Church itself; and the submissions set out, and how MCSA operated in a participatory democratic consensus approach to decisions.
The Chairperson noted that the Bible Society of South Africa apologised that they were not able to attend today; but their preliminary input was circulated to the Committee and other stakeholders. They would be meeting with the committee next week.
The Dutch Reformed Church had also apologised for being unable to attend. They had met with the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, and had indicated that much as they had agreed with the appeal they were not happy with some aspects of the historical background as well as the motivation. The Committee would be engaging further with them next Tuesday. The Institution of Independent Churches had also apologised for its inability to attend.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) explained the reason these organisations had been invited was so that they were not excluded from the process.
The Chairperson clarified that the Committee had thought of the national bodies that could possibly be affected and give very balanced advice from all angles. The Bible Society, the Independent Churches and the Dutch Reformed Church would be attending next week. The Muslim Judicial Council were also interested in making a submission, but could not attend today. The Jewish Board of Deputies had been asked to indicate whether it was interested in attending.
Methodist Church of Southern Africa Submission
Mr Pierre Gerber, ANC MP, led the Committee briefly through his proposal on the Methodist Church of South Africa (Private) Repeal Bill. He dealt with the memorandum, which was straightforward in terms of the Rules of Parliament and how it was done. Section A dealt with the particulars suggesting the repeal of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa Act 111 of 1978 and Section B set out the objectives. Section C noted that there were no financial implications for the State.
Mr Matthee confirmed that he would be putting the views of the Presiding Bishop on behalf of the entire Methodist Church. He noted that the main submissions were around process, and some on substance. The Methodist Church (Private) Act (the MCA) stated that the Methodist Conference was the highest legislative body of the Church. Section 7 of the MCA stated that the Methodist Conference could make Laws and Disciplines, to conduct its affairs.
He noted that the Methodist Church was that of Southern Africa; covering Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. That was a major complication and the reason why it was called the Methodist Church of “Southern Africa”. Mr Matthee thought the Nationalist government had not appreciated what it was doing when it allowed this Act to go through, because it was making a very specific statement. The Methodist Conference met annually every September. In addition to that there were local structures called Quarterly Meetings and regional meetings called Synods. Unlike the Anglican Church, where each diocese was independent, the Methodist Conference had the final say over all six countries.
Conference would normally send matters out for discussion at quarterly meetings, who would in turn refer the matter to Synod for discussion, and the resolutions would be taken at the Conference. There had to be consensus. The membership was around two million, although many members would be rurally based and would not have access to communications. In terms of the Act the Presiding Bishop was able to make decisions on day to day running, or on an emergency matter, but not those of a legislative nature. Some preliminary submissions were tabled, but it was noted that since the Conference was the final body, no mandate had yet been given on the final submissions. More time and greater involvement of all Methodists was needed
Mr Matthee noted that his submission made reference to an article in the Business Day that the Presiding Bishop had found to be most offensive.
The Chairperson interjected that she would like engagement on the legislative proposal and what had been said in parliament, not in the media.
Mr Matthee continued that the resolution of Conference in 1958, which had pride of place in their constitution, had declared the conviction that it was the will of God for the Methodist Church to be one and undivided, trusting to the leading of God to bring this ideal to ultimate fruition, and that this was the general basis for its missionary policy. He would object to anything in the proposal that indicated that this was not so. Paragraph 3 of Mr Gerber’s proposal had created the impression that the MCSA’s constitution permitted segregation along religious lines. It did so only by respecting the freedom of religion. MCSA needed more time to debate whether the proposal was in fact inconsistent with Sections 9 and 10 of the MCA.
The Chairperson stressed that Mr Gerber had Parliamentary privilege, and whilst Mr Matthee could engage robustly with him, there should be no personal attacks. She asked him to state the MCSA views whether it agreed with the proposal, or requested more time.
Mr Matthee again referred to the Business Day report.
The Chairperson interjected that the Committee was not dealing with that and requested Mr Matthee to confine himself to what was before the Committee.
Mr Matthee maintained he was confining himself to the objectives set out by the proposer, but was objecting to any inference that the MCSA Constitution was doing anything wrong in permitting certain types of segregation. He reiterated that the Church would need more time for a full comment.
The Chairperson raised two issues for noting. Firstly, parliament had jurisdiction only over South African territory, and not over other Southern African countries. South Africa was very sensitive to intruding on others, and perhaps the MCA needed to be amended simply by reason of the fact that it was seeking to impose South African legislation on other countries. Secondly, while she noted the request for more time, she pointed out that this term of Parliament would be ending before the next general election. If the term ended and the business was not concluded it would lapse. The Committee wanted to engage on the issue, and could refer it to another Committee through the Speaker’s Office.
Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM): Submission
Dr Japie LaPoorta, Deputy President, Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, noted that Section 4.2 of the submission was being withdrawn.
The Chairperson noted that the reference to “the applicant” should read “the proposer”.
The AFM requested that Mr Gerber’s proposal be withdrawn at this stage. It wished to submit proposals for amendment, but needed at least three weeks for further consultation with the Church’s legal representative. The matter could be circulated in local churches for their upcoming General Business Meeting next year, and a definite proposal could be obtained. The AFM was not opposed to the repeal of their Act on the grounds that it was inconsistent with the Constitution, but was concerned about possible detrimental implications it would have by leaving the Church in limbo with no transitional mechanisms.
The Chairperson reminded invitees to be mindful of language when referring to Members of Parliament. She was not happy with the aspersions cast on the proposer. Both presentations so far had suggested that the proposer had not done research. The Committee had its own Researcher with a legal background, and a Senior Legal Advisor to the Committee. If disparities were identified they would be asked to go and improve the proposal, whether in language, objectives or historical background. She reminded everyone that the privilege of Members of Parliament could not be ignored when engaging on proposals. She further stated that Parliament would have the final decision. Public involvement and consultation was a very important matter, and anyone invited to make submissions had the right to raise points and try to persuade the Committee over to their viewpoint. They could not, however, request a Member or Parliament to withdraw the proposal as that was the domain of Parliament. She suggested that the AFM might wish to rephrase its submission.
South African Council of Churches (SACC) Submission
Mr Vermeulen stated that the General Secretary of the SACC and the Presiding Bishop of the MCSA had entrusted him with forming an ecumenical response. He noted that there was some anxiety amongst the churches. He tabled a submission, which was to the effect that more background research was required, including research around the implications of a repeal on the juristic relations of denominations and organisations. The SACC also suggested that more time was needed to work around the issues.
The Chairperson noted that Mr Vermeulen had spoken to some matters that were not in the document and asked him to please to update his submission. He had mentioned money bills and the Children’s Act and the Committee would still like to engage with him on that.
South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) Submission
Mr Pierre van Wyk, Principal State Law Advisor, South African Law Reform Commission appreciated the opportunity for the Law Reform Commission to make known some of the work around Project 25. In the 1970s Parliament had realised that there were about one thousand pre-Union pieces of legislation, and obsolete Acts needed to be repealed. In the early 1980s another repealing Act had done away with post-union obsolete legislation. However, for some reason the Dutch Reformed Church Act seemed to have been overlooked. In the 2000s Cabinet mandated the SALRC to examine everything in the statute book. This revealed that there were 2800 pieces of national legislation, including over 300 for which no department took responsibility. This Committee was strengthening that work of the SALRC by posing questions whether the six acts identified were repugnant, obsolete or served any purpose. He could not make any value judgment. He noted the concerns that there could be certain unintended consequences should these Acts be repealed, and he recommended that further research was needed.
Mr van Wyk pointed, by way of example. to Section 4 of the Methodist Church Act. This spoke of the vesting of existing property without the necessity of any transfer, conveyance or other continuing or connecting title or separate investiture other than this Act. This question alone would require some extensive research to find out what the property implications had been or could be.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had taken the decision to engage with the Minister and the Directors General. She felt the Department of Justice was short-changing the committee in relying upon the SALRC to deal with this matter, particularly if the Department were later to complain that if it had spoken to the matter itself, it might have advised otherwise. She indicated that the Department of Justice should attend, and she would be raising the matter with the Director-General.
Mr Mshudulu explained the mandate of this Committee, stressing that it was to consider proposals not only in terms of Section 2, but also any law, policy, action or practice that might fall short of any other constitutional imperatives. Members of the Committee were not participating in their individual capacity, but were representing Parliament. No matter what their religious views, the Members were open on the issue. It was also important to confine the discussions to the proposal by Mr Gerber. He felt the Committee did need assistance from the SALRC. He was concerned that the churches perhaps were not fully appreciative of the fact that when they were asked by Parliament to deal with something, this was urgent and could not wait for annual meetings. All organisations and institutions had constitutions and executive members who could deal with issues. Parliament did not have time to carry over matters indefinitely.
Mr Mshudulu stated that only the AFM had made its position clear at this stage. The churches seemed to agree that if the Act was outdated they would have no objection to repealing it. However, the implications must be focused on, without delaying the process.
Adv P Swart (DA) thought that these Acts would ultimately fall under the Minister of Arts and Culture, not the Minister of Justice. He thought that the SALRC was in fact dealing with this matter at a rather late stage already. He noted that some of the submissions took exception to the way in which the proposal had been framed. He would have preferred to see concrete suggestions from the submissions, instead of merely objections to language. He reiterated that legislators had the will and the obligation to ensure that there were no pieces of legislation remaining that were discriminatory or that deviated from the letter and spirit of the Constitution. He did not think that it was the place of Parliament to legislate for churches and he would have thought the Church bodies would agree on this. Parliament would only be justified in intervening in the business of a religious body if it were to deviate from the Constitution. He noted that the Dutch Reformed Church submissions had been considered the previous week. That piece of legislation had been truly archaic, never implemented, and was full of discriminatory statements, so it was a clear cut case for repeal. He explained that the proposer had based his arguments on the discriminatory and inconsistent sections in the various Acts under discussion. Only later did the issue of property and other implications come to the fore.
Adv Swart asked if the MCA was the only document ruling the MCSA, or if there was a Church constitution spelling out the structures, the rights and obligations of members of the congregation, which could stand alone as the internal regulatory framework, quite apart from the MCSA. He agreed with the Chairperson that a further problem with this Act was that it sought to cover the functioning of the MCA in six States. South Africa could not have legislation that impacted on other countries. The Act would have to be repealed or substantially altered on this ground alone. That was why it was important to ascertain whether the MCSA had any other regulatory framework that would allow it to function properly and which dealt with property matters. He also asked the MCSA to confirm that there were no remarks about race or segregation or separate communion sin that Act.
Adv Swart noted that AFM of SA did have a separate constitution, which seemed to be a schedule to its Act. There were archaic sections relating to segregation, and Adv Swart did not understand why the AFM would want these still to remain. Even if the schedules were changed, the main body of the Act was also not in line with the Constitution.
Mr H Bekker (IFP) noted that Mr Gerber was both sponsor and Member of this Committee. Although he did not want to speak on Mr Gerber’s behalf, it must be borne in mind that some of the basic legislation had been repugnant and racially discriminatory. Adv Swart had raised the issue of the churches’ constitutions. There were various ways to meet the potential problems. The Committee had also noted that there might be numerous denominations in the Christian churches, and there was a need also to involve the Muslim Council and Jewish Board of Deputies, although no legislation relating to them was at issue, both in respect of the historical fact that some religious groupings were legislated for (thereby implying that they had greater status) and others not, and also to contribute to a more sensible, logical and better understanding of each other for a way forward.
The Chairperson asked the SACC and other presenters, in resubmitting documents, to correct their appellations to read “Hon Gerber MP”, and to remove any arguments that did not relate to the proposal itself. Their stance on parliament and other side issues was not relevant to the matter before the Committee. She briefly reviewed this Committee’s mandate, noting that it was very passionate about a Member’s right to propose legislation, but at the same time she had felt constrained to note that some of the remarks about him were inappropriate. She noted that the Committee would consider the requests for more time and although it could not delay the matter for months, it could consider an extension. She reminded all present that in the end, it would be the Committee that had the final call, not the Conferences of the churches.
Ms M Tlake (ANC) was very disappointed to see such emotive words as “repugnant” being used as they were negative. This Committee was mandated to do its work by the Constitution, and it clearly would not do anything that was in contradiction to the Constitution. She noted that research had shown that there had been discriminatory practices in churches, including discrimination against women. Many leaders of the Church had not yet transformed, and she would like to see them have a more positive attitude towards transformation.
Ms Tlake referred to the AFM submission, and noted that point 4.5 referred to eligibility for the National Leaders Forum, which was based upon three years of experience. She wondered how many women had been ordained as pastors for three years.
Mr Magwanishe noted that some churches, particularly Roman Catholic and Anglican, had huge property holdings, not in terms of legislation, but because they were permitted to do so by their constitutions or canons. He felt that the churches that were governed by legislation should already be looking at amending their own constitutions so that these clearly catered for the issues of property and other affected rights.
Ms Zuraya Adhikarie, Parliamentary Senior Legal Advisor, asked the institutions for copies of their constitutions. She noted that the changes to constitutions and the repealing of the legislation were separate issues. It was quite possible to deal with property ownership outside an Act as many NGOs, welfare organisations and so forth were able to have property benefits. She was also concerned about the attempts to legislate beyond the borders.
Adv Swart said that he appreciated the difficulties in changing a constitution, and he would not expect this to be done immediately, but had intended to suggest that the institutions should be discussing already with their Executive what interim measures they could take to protect rights if the changes to their constitutions could only take place after annual meetings or other procedures. He suggested that the presenters should come back to the Committee if there were any serious transitional problems so that there could be a joint discussion on what steps to take.
The Chairperson asked Mr LaPoorta to tell the Committee specifically what problems it foresaw and what measures or arrangements it could put in place. She noted that she was a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa, which was affiliated to the SACC. This church had no governing legislation, yet owned properties and administered pension funds, and she asked what was the difference between this and the other legislated-for churches. She asked why specifically the Methodist Church was wanting to have its Act remain on the Statute books, and expected a specific response on this the following week.
The Chairperson noted that the final decision of the Committee would be taken during a meeting at which the churches would not necessarily be present. If the Committee decided to support the proposal, then the Portfolio Committee that was responsible for the Acts to be repealed would take over the matter, and would receive all records and recommendations of this Committee, to avoid duplication. Presenters would then need to have a further level of engagement with another Committee.
Mr Matthee prefaced his responses by saying he was deeply distressed and disappointed at how he felt matters were proceeding. Although he had thought that this meeting would be considering the submission, he was receiving the impression that a decision had already been taken. He noted that the Methodist Church was accused in the memorandum of having repugnant practices, and had become defensive as this was seen as an attack. He said that the implications of the submissions were far-reaching. The property conveyance and transfer would take time. All the properties, which ran in the thousands, were transferred without any tax implications. He noted the comments that the Committee had thought the MCSA would have welcomed the repeal. He was saying that it needed time to work through the process. He personally believed in complete separation of Church from State.
He understood where Parliament stood and what its powers and prerogatives were, but the Act of Parliament said the highest regulating, legislative body of the MCSA was Conference. To try and get an executive decision, not a Conference decision, within the next week would be to disregard the Act itself. The real issue that Adv Swart raised was whether a religious institution should be constituted by an Act of Parliament. Only Conference could make that decision.
He noted that Section 7 of the MCSA gave the Church the power to draw up its own constitution, which it had, as contained in the Laws and Disciplines. The Act formed an appendix at the back of the Laws and Disciplines. Section 7 merely gave the MCSA the power to administer itself in certain ways, and clearly the Laws and Disciplines could not amend the Act. Section 11 of the Act said that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any law, the MCSA could, in pursuance of a resolution from Conference, incorporate itself or unite or amalgamate with any other Church or religious body or association or organisation, either within or outside the borders of the Republic. That was in turn reflected in the Constitution of the MCSA, which referred to areas of operation in named countries. The Act gave this power to the Church, so he could not see why this should not also be contained in the Constitution of the Church.
Mr Matthee reiterated that there was absolutely no reference to segregation in the Act. He had quoted in the submission a resolution of Conference in 1958, which made that very clear. That was one of the dividing points between John Wesley and the Anglican Church. The Methodist Church had been active in protection of the workers and was essentially a workers’ church. From the outset women were a central part of the Methodist Church and preached already from the beginning of the eighteenth century. He would support the view that there should be separation of church and state as clearly Parliament could not debate on and prescribe on issues of theology.
He reiterated that there were many conveyancing implications and this was a complex issue that might require Treasury to write off transfer fees. He clarified that the MCSA was not opposing the repeal, but was calling for time to discuss the matter. As the church was active in six countries, it took some time and logistics to call the Executive, which was designed specifically to be as participatory and as inclusive as possible. It would be impossible to respond by next week.
Mr LaPoorta also had his reservations with the way he saw the meeting unfolding. He noted that the AFM had been a segregated Church for many years and had been struggling against this for many years. AFM had no objection to the repealing of their Act, but had problems with the property situation and the transfers. The properties were all owned by local churches. AFM was appealing for time to get transitional mechanisms in place and to consult with their legal expert. Insofar as women were concerned, AFM had not reached its ideal of transformation, but 10% of pastors were ordained women.
Mr Vermeulen clarified a possible misunderstanding on the SACC’s position. SACC was surprised this repeal had not taken place earlier. He knew that was the position of the General Secretary of the SACC and of the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church. He agreed that Conference was the highest body, but there was a clause that prescribed that in between Conferences, the Presiding Bishop could make policy decisions. He was mandated to link with and get guidance from the Bishop. He said Mr Matthee had spoken about the legislative implications quite correctly, and supported him both in his pointing out the difficulties around repeal, and his call for more time. He said the doors of the SACC were open for consultation and it would like to see the matter go forward. He stated strongly that the SACC was not opposed to the repeal in principle; churches believed that the Constitutional values of respect, dignity and equity applied equally to the churches, so there could not be discriminatory recognition of one religious group or body over another.
He raised again the question of the Civil Union Bill, noting that the views of the Church and the social inequity had to be balanced so that a way forward was found. It may well be that not all issues around transformation would be agreed upon, and the churches could not be expected simply to agree to whatever was tabled. He underlined the kind of words and the kind of processes that emerged in the media. SACC was suggesting that there was room to debate how matters should be dealt with. The SACC, unlike the MCSA, was not legislated for by any Act. It was recognised by government as a non-profit organisation, and its property and constitution reflected the ideals of this government. It was also recognised as a public benefit organisation in terms of tax legislation. SACC had twenty six denominations and interaction with those denominations on this proposal would require space and time.
Mr Mshudulu explained why these matters were raised. He fully respected the capacity of the SACC, and the Committee was sensitive to all rights, and was also sensitive to the request for more time.
Mr Matthee argued that in terms of clause 5.1 of its Constitution, Conference was the supreme legislative body. Clause 5.2.3, as referred to by Mr Vermeulen, said only that ‘should any matter arise in the interval, between conferences, for which no provision was made in the Laws and Disciplines, the Presiding Bishop can take action’. The Presiding Bishop could not deal with legislation. Only conference could do that.
The Chairperson thanked the SACC clarification. She reiterated that the final decision would lie with Parliament. The Committee was also very grateful for the honest and frank submissions and the manner of interaction. She corrected the misperceptions that may have arisen during interactions and explained how the Committee worked, in particular that presenters would be required to persuade the Committee and it would be incorrect if the Committee did not convey back the lines along which it was thinking and raise any concerns. The starting point was whether the State should concern itself with the workings of religious organisations. Members’ own religious affiliations were quite apart from this issue, and would not be taken into account at all when a final decision was reached.
Insofar as the requests for more time were concerned, the Committee had in the past put matters in abeyance, to give people a chance to consult and do research, but she cautioned that there was not a lot of time available. Parliament would expect a report by the end of the year from this Committee indicating how the matters was to be dealt with. However, the Committee was sensitive to the call for more time. Both the presenters and the sponsors had to persuade the Committee, and the sponsor would no doubt, having heard the comments, be revising his proposal. Any further correspondence would be brought to the attention of the Committee.
Adv Swart noted that Members were very frank in this Committee. He suggested the presenters must obtain legal opinion in respect of the property, and should forward them to the Committee by around mid-January.
Mr Mshudulu felt that this was an urgent issue and they should revert to the Committee as quickly as possible.
The Chairperson said that both had valid points. She said that clearly the Committee could not expect legal opinions to be available next week. Parliament was to rise in two weeks time, but was technically still in session, so she asked that these matters be finalised and further advice forwarded to the Committee before the close of December. She would also be seeking advice from the Committee’s legal researcher, and would be interacting with the Minister and Director General. She said this matter should be finalised before February 2008.
Mr Matthee asked the Committee to understand that for the Methodist Church it was not only a legal input, but was a Church / State debate.
The Chairperson reminded Mr Matthee that when this Committee took a decision that would not be the end of the matter, as no doubt the proposal would then proceed to another Committee. There would be time for MCSA to continue theological discussions pending the decision of that other Committee. All concerns and recommendations would be noted in a report to the Speaker.
Adv Swart clarified that the proposal related to the repeal of legislation. This Committee, in deciding whether that proposal was justified, would look to the advisability, feasibility, and necessity for the six pieces of legislation. This Committee would make recommendations to the Speaker on the merits of the proposal. If it decided the repeal was justified, another Committee would implement the actual repeal.
Mr Vermeulen concluded that he and the Legal Advisor would arrange an immediate meeting with the Presiding Bishop, explain to him the urgency and forward further comment from the Presiding Bishop to the next meeting. He pledged the churches’ cooperation.
Van Der Merwe Floor Crossing Proposal
The Chairperson noted that there would be a joint meeting between this Committee, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on the following Tuesday, to discuss floor crossing and the IEC’s international work.
Adoption of Minutes
The minutes of committee meetings held on 24 August, 7 September; 19 October and 25 October 2007 were adopted, with amendments.
Matters arising from previous meetings: Briefing by Minister of Finance, and question of public hearings
The Chairperson announced that she had had a brief discussion with the Speaker who said there must be a one-hour meeting dedicated to committee work because mandates came directly from her. She suggested having that meeting in her office before Parliament rose. The Speaker felt the committee should have the right to have public hearings, and had put this on the agenda of the Joint Rules Committee for discussion
The Chairperson had a personal meeting with the Minister of Finance in relation to the Kellerman petition. He was busy with the Medium Term Budget Policy Framework but promised either to attend personally or instruct a delegate to attend a meeting before Parliament rose. She had not written an official letter, but had used the opportunity presented to discuss the matter in person.
Adv Swart suggested that a formal letter be written to confirm the discussion.
Trip to Brazil
The Chairperson noted that an e-mail had been addressed to Parliament expressing disappointment that the trip to Brazil had been cancelled. Parliament took responsibility for the embarrassment and would apologise to Brazil on the committee’s behalf.
The meeting adjourned.
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