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Taking Parliament to People, and People to Parliament
The aim of this report is to summarise the main events at the meeting and identify the key role players. This report is not a verbatim transcript of proceedings.
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 October 2001
VETERINARY AND PARA-VETERINARY PROFESSIONS AMENDMENT BILL
LAND AFFAIRS GENERAL AMENDMENT BILL
Chairperson: Adv S. Holomisa
Documents handed out:
Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill [B66-2001]
Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill: Additional Amendments (South African Veterinary Council)
Land Affairs General Amendment Bill [B71-2001]
The Committee decided that another review of the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill would be necessary following additional changes to the amendments presented.
The Land Affairs General Amendment Bill was agreed to with minor amendments, and the Department of Land Affairs advised that the issue of burial rights, which the Bill did not adequately deal with, would be dealt with in subsequent legislation.
The Committee was also briefed on the Female Farmer of the Year Award Ceremony to be held later this month, and the National Land Tenure Conference to take place in November 2001.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed all present. He stated that the two bills the Committee would be dealing with were the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill and the Land Affairs General Amendment Bill. A Motion of Desirability had previously been passed on both Bills, and the Chairperson hoped that they would be finalised quickly, particularly the Veterinary Bill. The Committee also had the issue of the Female Farmer of the Year on the agenda that would be introduced by the Director General from the Department of Agriculture.
Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill
Dr P. Ardington, former president of the South African Veterinary Council, presented the Veterinary and Para-Veterinary Professions Amendment Bill. He explained that Clause 1 was simply a matter of definitions. With no questions, this clause was accepted by the Committee. He then moved on to Clause 2 and said he believed it would be easier to understand if he described the process of composing the new Veterinary Council, as given in Clause 2, in the order in which it would occur rather than the order given in the amendment. He said the Veterinary Council sought compromise between size, representivity and the need to redress issues of racial imbalance within the profession. He proceeded to explain the complicated selection process he presented the week before that involved a balance of input by the veterinarians themselves and the Minister of Agriculture. The intention was to allow veterinarians and para-veterinarians, who paid for the Council and sought self-regulation, to be represented, while also including input from academia and a legal specialist, as well as adequate influence from the Minister.
The Chairperson asked why the selection process did not appear within the Veterinary Amendment Bill in the order that Dr Ardington explained it, as the amendment was very confusing as written.
Dr Ardington agreed that it would make more sense if written in an orderly sequence as he had described.
The Chairperson said that they would proceed with the Veterinary Amendment Bill with the understanding that the order would be made more logical before the Bill was finalised.
Mr D. Du Toit, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, said he did not think the Veterinary Bill was presented correctly from a technical point of view. He believed the wording and presentation were not of the right legislative formality, and that needed to be changed. Additionally, he felt the veto ability of the outgoing Council on the Minister's appointments, provided by the necessity of concurrence on those appointments, was problematic. He stated that it should require consultation with the Council rather than concurrence.
The Chairperson said that, regarding wording and format, the State Legal Advisor should assist the Council in improving it. He then stated that the Deputy Minister sought final say by the Minister on his appointments to the Council.
Dr Ardington said that it would be fine to change that as the Council was not seeking a veto power in that respect.
Mr S. Farrow (DP) asked about the time frame given for creating the new Council and how the legislation dealt with appointments not made.
Mr B. Beukes, legal advisor for the Department of Agriculture, said that, if the appointments were not made by the Minister in time, the existing Council would continue, according to Section 8 of the principle Act.
Dr S. Schoeman (ANC) argued that the Minister could still neglect his or her duties, so he advised that a time frame be put in place for creation of the new Council.
The Chairperson stated that this appeared to be covered by the Bill as it allotted six months from the passing of the legislation for the creation of the new Council, but this failed to account for the change of the Council every three years.
Mr Beukes stated that Section 2 referred to vacancies being filled within three months.
The Chairperson said that this referred only to vacancies and not to entire changes of the Council. He suggested that Section 7 be amended to include a three month time limit for the appointments to be made following the expiry of the old Council. It was also suggested that the legislation require the Minister to notify the Portfolio Committee of those appointments made so as to keep the Minister accountable. The Chairperson informed Mr Beukes that this was sometimes included in such legislation and suggested he look at other examples and include some version in the Veterinary Bill. The Committee agreed that Mr Beukes should make note of these changes and alter the legislation accordingly.
Dr Ardington then proceeded through the remainder of the Veterinary Amendment Bill, most of which had been discussed and agreed to in the Committee the week before.
The Chairperson asked the Committee if it accepted Clause 3, and it was agreed to without amendments. Concerning Clause 4, there was the question of where an appointment to a vacancy in the Council might come from.
Ms B. Njobe, Director General of the Department of Agriculture, suggested that appointments should be made by the Minister in consultation with the Council, and these appointments should, if possible, come from the original pool for selection.
This was agreed to and adopted subject to the changes requested. Clause 5 was then agreed to without changes.
Dr Ardington explained that Clause 6 concerned the language issue and that the amendment, while getting rid of the requisite fluency in Afrikaans, had previously still required the English language and, in doing so, raised one national language over others. The Committee had decided that it was best to simply delete the language requirement, and the new amendments provided for that.
The Chairperson asked if this was agreed to and, following approval, proceeded to the next clause. He stated that the Committee had also questioned whether it was necessary to allow the Council the right to administer an exam to those seeking registration as veterinarians in South Africa who might not hold the right credentials. Some on the Committee feared this might keep out qualified candidates who did not pass the exam.
Mr Beaukes told the Committee that there was a stipulation in other legislation that provided the opportunity to challenge decisions made by councils of this kind.
The Chairperson said that, since there was a way to challenge the Council's decision, the Committee should accept the Clause without changes. The Committee agreed, and they proceeded to Clause 8.
Dr Ardington stated that this clause included private companies under the auspices of the Act, but the questions on this clause concerned Section 5 and the liability issue. Some Committee Members were uncertain about making the director of a company liable for the actions of anyone within that company.
Mr D. Du Toit, the Deputy Minister, said that this stipulation was only for cases of contractual debts and liabilities. He asked if there was such a thing as an act of negligence by a company.
The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister if he was suggesting that debts rising out of negligence be included.
Mr Farrow said that this was only to make a juristic person responsible for his or her actions.
The Deputy Minister said that he feared the Clause would only hold an individual accountable for contractual debts because inclusion of contractual liability might necessarily exclude any other liability.
Dr Schoeman said that, if one were in a company with another, one should not be liable if the other let a horse die but should be for company debts incurred by the other.
The Chairperson stated that, if this was the scenario they wanted, was that how the Bill read.
Mr Beukes stated that he believed the Bill provided for companies and directors to be liable for contractual debts but, otherwise, individuals were liable only for their own acts.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed to the clause on the understanding that Mr Beukes would investigate whether or not this was properly presented. He asked Dr Ardington to continue with the remainder of the Bill.
Clauses 9 and 10 referred to the inclusion of private companies and were accepted without changes. Clause 11, also accepted, allowed the Council to impose fines for wrongful conduct in order to assist with the costs of trying individuals for such conduct. Clauses 12 and 14 would allow the Minister discretion in setting fines costs for transgressions, as actual costs in the legislation would certainly become outdated. Clauses 13 and 15 both dealt with deleting outdated aspects of the Act referring to transitory legislation. Clause 16 provided that the new Council be selected within six months of the legislation becoming effective. Clauses 17 and 18 were matters of gender sensitivity. All these clauses were accepted without changes.
The Chairperson asked Mr Beukes to explain the issue with the new clause he wanted to include before the final clause.
Mr Beukes explained that one clause in the Veterinary Amendment Bill actually dealt with a mistake made in the Pharmacy Act and not the Veterinary Act. Within the Pharmacy Act, the word ''veterinarian'' was accidentally left out in a paragraph that would provide a veterinarian with the right to have medication and administer it to patients.
The Chairperson said that, if they had consulted officials from the Department of Health, this should not be a problem. The Committee did not see a problem with it, so they accepted it. The last clause was accepted, and the Chairperson stated that they could not vote on the Veterinary Amendment Bill until they had a chance to look at the new clauses that would be included. That would likely be the following week, so the Committee was not done with the Bill for the time being.
The Chairperson thanked Dr Ardington and Mr Beukes for their work with the Committee on the Bill and said that it would certainly be a fine piece of legislation thanks to their collective deliberations on the matter. The Chairperson then asked the Director General of the Department of Agriculture if she would like to do the honours of telling the Committee about the Female Farmer of the Year Award.
Female Farmer of the Year Award
The Director General informed the Committee about the Female Farmer of the Year Award. She said the Department had hoped to profile this group and the results had thus far been wonderful. The award ceremony would take place on 16 October, and it would coincide with World Food Day. The Department presented the invitations to the Committee with an RSVP, a poster for their constituency offices and a shirt to wear into Parliament that day. The event would be held in Johannesburg.
The Chairperson said that women had always been involved in farming but never recognised, so the Committee welcomed the initiative and supported it. He asked if the invitation had been issued to them as a Committee or as individuals.
The Director General told the Committee that the invitations were issued to everyone individually because the Department thought it was important to bring this issue back to the constituency through Parliament.
The Chairperson brought up the issue of how many members the Committee could afford to send and accommodate and eight was decided on. The Committee left it to the Secretary to decide if they could indeed afford eight and who would go. He then turned to the representatives from the Department of Land Affairs and apologised because they were only left twenty minutes to convince the Committee on the Land Affairs General Amendment Bill.
Land Affairs General Amendment Bill
Mr Farrow suggested that, since the Committee had already been briefed on the Land Bill extensively, they should just consider the outstanding questions on the issue.
The Chairperson agreed and stated that he believed Sections 6 and 7 to be the troublesome segments.
Mr C. Brocker, Head of Legal Services for the Department of Land Affairs, suggested a third way of covering the remaining questions on the Land Bill following the additional amendments as given on the document provided by the Department. He began with Clause 3 that was a technical amendment omitting ''evicted'' and replacing it with ''so removed''. He said it was a matter of consistency in wording.
Mr M. Maphalala (ANC) said that the Committee should first look at the section before accepting it in order to ensure that there was no other reason for the wording.
Mr Brocker stated that a removal could occur before a full eviction. In this clause, the Department was adding another requirement. If the final order of eviction was not made, someone removed could be reinstated, and that was the reason for this particular wording.
The Chairperson asked the Committee if they accepted the Clause, and they agreed.
Mr Brocker presented Clause 4 as a solution to a drafting mistake made by the Department and an improvement on consistency with the previous clause.
The Committee accepted the Clause.
Mr Brocker returned to Clause 6 in the Bill itself and said that the Department still wanted to persuade the Committee to accept these amendments as they were. He said that they did not provide a full answer, but there needed to be a temporary solution to the burial issue while the Department sufficiently researched the issues necessary to come up with a proper and permanent answer. A balance needed to be found between farmers themselves and their workers and workers' families and their dignity.
A suggestion was made about including within this legislation a stipulation that would take a portion of land that had already been chosen for burial purposes and put it under the control of the district council.
The Chairperson asked if it was possible to properly incorporate something along these lines into the current legislation.
Dr Schoeman proposed that they accept the Land Bill as it was and send the message to the Department that the problem had to be addressed more properly.
Mr Farrow said that they should refer to this in the Act to ensure that the process would get started.
The Chairperson argued that this might necessitate a redraft and extensive consultation.
Mr Brocker said that all the problems could not be addressed at that time and in that Bill, but this was just an interim solution. He asked the Committee to accept that the Department would return with a more complete answer, but it was a pressing issue that needed some answers immediately.
The Chair asked if there were any questions.
Mr A. Van Niekerk (FA) referred to Clause 7 saying that the wording would likely cause problems in the future. He suggested they add consultation with ''relevant municipalities concerned'' in an amendment.
The Chairperson said that the Committee agreed to the suggested amendment and that the Department would return to the Committee with better answers in a different form. The Committee then agreed to the Land Affairs General Amendment Bill with amendments.
Ms V. Nxasana from the Department of Land Affairs, then announced the National Land Tenure Conference that would be held 27-30 November in Durban. The theme would be 'Finding Solutions, Securing Rights'. It would deal with issues of tenure in rural areas and communal areas.
The Chairperson told the Committee that he thought everyone should attend, and he hoped the Department could assist those members that the Committee could not afford to transport. Following this, the meeting was adjourned.
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