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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
07 November 2007
COMMITTEE REPORT ON CHILDREN’S AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION
Acting Chairperson: Mr B Solo (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Children’s Amendment Bill [B19-2006]
Committee Report on Consultation on the Children’s Amendment bill
Committee Report on Visit to Western Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape
[Reports available at Committee Reports once published]
Audio recording of meeting
The agenda for the meeting had changed, and the Committee noted that the Department’s Annual Report briefing would be presented at the next meeting. Members noted that in the past the Department had accepted the recommendations and proposals of the Committee but that little seemed to be done to implement them. This was one item that would need to be interrogated. Furthermore the last Annual Report had shown insufficient alignment between budget and strategic plans, nor had the Department addressed itself to monitoring the provincial departments. These were further issues that would be raised.
The Committee noted the unfortunate fact that the Children’s Amendment Bill could not be debated in the House because the final version was not available. This illustrated a problem with procedures, that was not the fault of the Committee, but that clearly needed to be addressed.
The Committee adopted its report on the Children’s Amendment Bill.
The Committee approved the Minutes up to 12 September and resolved that Minutes would in future be approved on a more regular basis.
The Acting Chairperson announced that the agenda had been changed and the briefing on the 2006/07 Annual Report of the Department of Social Development was postponed to 14 and 21 November.
Children’s Amendment Bill
The Acting Chairperson noted that the Children’s Amendment Bill had been due for final debate in Parliament the day before but was postponed because the final print version of the Bill could not be tabled on time. He emphasised that this incident illustrated an important issue concerning the process of approval of bills. The Committee would have to investigate and clarify the problem and then make an adequate plan to prevent this happening again.
In response to this, several Members noted that nothing that happened could be blamed on the work of this Committee. Instead it must be investigated how the different print versions of the finalised Bill could suddenly appear. The question was who had authorised the reprint of the Bill, and questions must be asked also on whether the administrative process of printing the Bill was beyond the Committee’s control.
Several Members also agreed that there was more to this issue than a pure administration or coordination problem, since this Bill had been especially contested. The Members were concerned and agreed that this would probably not happen with something like a finance bill.
Report on the Children’s Amendment Bill: Adoption
The Committee accepted the recommendations as set out in the report on the Children’s Amendment Bill, which were discussed in the last meeting.
The Committee then approved the whole report as tabled in this meeting.
It was noted that two more current reports would be discussed and approved in the next meeting when the hard copies would be available for all members.
Approval of minutes to 12 September 2007
The Committee approved the minutes up to 12 September 2007.
A Member suggested that the Committee should be adopting the minutes more frequently so that they were up to date, and so that Members had a better chance to raise any issues when the meetings were still fresh in their memory.
The Committee approved this proposal, and also agreed that the Secretary should remind members to bring their minutes to those meetings, so that everybody had a chance to read through them again.
Department of Social Development forthcoming Annual Report briefing
The Department of Social Development’s Annual Report would be considered at the next meeting. The Acting Chairperson emphasised that the Committee had the important task of really evaluating the Department’s performance. He remembered that the last Annual Report was not consistent with the budget and the strategic plans. The Department could not blame these failures continuously on the provincial or local level. The Department had to monitor that their own targets were being met.
Ms X Makasi (ANC) noted that there was a lack of feedback on the Committee’s recommendations. The Department acknowledged the Committee’s proposals but did not seem to act on them.
Ms I Direko (ANC) agreed that it was very important to streamline those policy-making procedures. There had to be feedback and the Committee must ensure that plans were actually implemented. Especially in the light of the recent problems with the Children’s Amendment Bill, everybody should have learned the lesson that the policy-making process would have to be more structured and controlled. People on the ground should be able to see that parliament was progressive and was actually having a positive impact on their lives.
The Acting Chairperson noted that the matter of the fire in Cape Town the previous day should be discussed in this Committee. The Committee Members agreed that this matter had to be investigated and noted that a letter of sympathy would be written to the people concerned.
The meeting was adjourned.
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