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STANDING COMMITTEE ON PRIVATE MEMBER'S LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS AND SPECIAL PETITIONS
10 October 20001
VICTIMS OF CRIME BILL & CORRUPTION AMENDMENT BILL; CLARKE & LIEBENBERG PETITIONS
Chairperson: Mr Hendrikse (ANC)
Documents handed out: None
The Committee decided that the proposals for the Fund for Victims of Crime Bill and the Corruption Amendment Bill will not be continued with. The Committee will report this decision to the National Assembly.
In respect of the petition by Ms Liebenberg the Committee will wait three weeks before a decision is made. The Committee agreed that it supports the petition from Mr Clarke. Mr Clarke however has to submit a schedule of all his expenses because the Ministry has indicated that they will not be able to fully assist in this matter.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) proposed that the meeting begin with a report-back regarding the past relevant meetings. He stated that there were four items on the agenda. Two of the proposals related to legislative proposals, whilst the other two dealt with petitions by Mr Clarke and Mrs Liebenberg.
Petition by Mrs Liebenberg
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) began with the petition by Mrs Liebenberg, and he said that the committee would have to reach a decision in light of the matter as it currently stood, and as he would relate to the committee. He stated that all the members had received correspondence over the matter, and it had been said that action would be taken regarding the matter within 3 weeks. He explained that he had contacted Mr Bosch, the man who had sent the committee the letter stipulating that action would be taken within 3 weeks. He said that he had told Mr Bosch that 2 years ago the committee had been told exactly the same thing, and that the committee had reached a point where it had become crucial to dispose of the matter. He stated that the current position was that Mr Bosch had said that he would get back to the committee as soon as possible.
Mr Selfe (DP) stated that he got the impression that Transnet was deliberately dragging the matter, and he suggested that they were engaging in delaying tactics which would ensure that the matter was not disposed of as quickly as possible. As a result, due pensions would not be granted, and this would have the effect of holding the committee in contempt.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) said that his party shared the same view. He explained that as an ANC member, the party decided to express this view, although it was prepared to wait for the stipulated 3 weeks for results. However, he emphasised that they would not be able to wait beyond the given date. He said that in terms of the response, the ANC was reluctantly waiting, but was endorsing the concern it had over the delaying tactics. He mentioned that the Chairperson had alluded to the fact that this matter had to be finalised before Parliament adjourned on 16 November 2001.
Mr Ainslie (ANC) said that he was also prepared to wait to see what would happen within the 3 weeks, but no longer.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) asked if the committee had agreed on this decision.
The committee agreed to wait for 3 weeks.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) thanked the members of the committee. He said that he would certainly convey their sentiments to Mr Bosch and all those concerned.
Petition by Mr Clark
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) turned to the petition by Mr Clarke. He explained that the committee had decided to support his petition, and it had been agreed that the financial assistance would be sought from the Department of Finance. He added that about one and a half years earlier, the Department of Finance told him that it would not be able to fully assist in the matter. He said therefore that the assistance of the committee would be required in order to reach a decision as to what would happen to the petition.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) said that it would not be possible for the committee to reinvent the Bill in any way. He firmly stated that the committee had taken a decision at the meeting attended by Mr Clarke. However, he felt that it would be necessary to agree on all the supporting documents, such as obtaining a clear quotation that would properly inform the committee when endorsing its proposals. Thus the committee would be able to put a clear proposal in monetary terms. He added that the committee had to be seen to be motivating on behalf of Mr Clarke because it was necessary to support the decision they had taken at the earlier meeting. The administration of the matter would then be sorted out at a later stage.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) confirmed that Mr Mshudulu (ANC) wanted an outline of the expenses of Mr Clarke. He said that if he understood correctly, this would require Mr Clarke sending a copy of all his expenses to the committee.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) said that this indeed was the case.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) asked the committee if they had all agreed on the proposals made.
The committee agreed unanimously.
Proposals: Corruption Amendment Bill
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) then dealt with the Corruption Amendment Bill. He explained that a proposal from Ms Taljaard (DP) was submitted on 17 September 1999, seeking an amendment to the Bill. He said the in terms of the modus operandi of the committee, the committee had listened to her motivation and referred the matter to the relevant departments. Written replies were received in this regard, and early this year the relevant departments presented their positions to the committee. He added that the committee had continuously asked for the progress that had been made.
He went on to say that early this year, Ms Taljaard had written of her concerns relating to the delay of the matter. The Deputy Speaker had said that it would be necessary to make a proposal in this regard. He added that as a result of the last meeting held, this proposal was now before the committee for discussion, and in order for the committee to reach a final decision.
Mr Maimane (ANC) stated that he was of the opinion that the ANC had to indicate its position regarding corruption. He firmly said that their position was unambiguous. As a result, he considered that the proposal had rather to be incorporated in the entire exercise of legislative decision making, as the issue would be best dealt with on that level.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) said that he would advance facts that he expected the opposition to endorse. He explained that in terms of the process issue, the committee had given direction with regards to what had transpired to date, in order to avoid any technicalities. He said that the Chairperson of Justice of the ANC had clearly endorsed the commitment that corruption had to be fought at all levels. In terms of this approach, there would be the legislative process that was underpinned by consultation and would deal holistically with the matter. In his opinion, any agreement on a quick fix would turn out to be costly to government. Thus it was necessary to agree that Justice had endorsed its willingness to deal with the matter in its entirety. This meant that the matter could not be agreed upon in the meeting, but would reach its conclusion in the year to come. In addition, he felt that the committee was a kind of 'parking bay', and his worry was that the public would regard it as not having done the job it had to do. As a result, it would be necessary to distinguish their position with the status of the outcome at the Justice meeting.
Mr Mgwanishe (ANC) explained that this proposal was part of a list of Bills that were awaiting a decision by the Justice Portfolio Committee. Thus the Bill was being dealt with, and would form part of the Corruption Amendment Bill. He said that this meant that the committee did not have to deal with the matter presently.
Mr Ainslie felt that Mrs Liebenberg did not have any grounds upon which to lodge a complaint. He said that this was because, in principle, the committee did not disagree with her proposal. It had been agreed by the committee that the comments made by Justice indicating that the Corruption Act dealt with the matter in a piece-meal fashion, were correct. A review of the entire Act was currently in process, and he proposed that the committee dispose of the matter on that level.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) confirmed that he meant that the committee should not deal with the matter any longer. He added that Mrs Liebenberg had sent a letter apologising for the fact that she could not be present at the meeting.
Mr Selfe said that he heard and respected the views that had been given. However, he had a cautionary tale to tell. He explained that the abuse of the elderly was a small aspect of issues dealing with the status of the aged. He said currently the law offered no protection to this group of people. He stated that when the matter reached the deliberation stage, exactly the same arguments were raised. The result was that the Bill was passed in 1998, but the status was that they were still waiting for it to come into force. He wanted it to be advised that certain deadlines had to be placed on the Legislature, otherwise the point would be missed in the interest of being comprehensive.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) said that it was important for the committee to respond regarding the matter in order to avoid being put on record. He stated that he did not think that the view stated by Mr Sel was correct. His point was that the portfolio committee had engaged in the rules, as it was required to do so. It was not necessary to attach the past to the present in this regard. He added that the committee had endorsed its commitment to the proposal, and thus it was necessary for the matter to move on to the next level. He noted that it would not be possible to dictate to Justice because this was a very irregular and incorrect policy decision to take. He explained that the committee had carried out all the work it was expected to carry out. However, in terms of recording of the meeting, he did not want it to sound, to those that had never heard the committee discussing the matter before, as though the committee had been delaying.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) asked the committee whether the proposal made to the house was that the matter not be continued with.
The committee agreed that this was the position taken.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) said that he had heard the views of the committee. He noted that members who felt strongly about the matter could further pursue it at the meeting with the National Assembly, by urging the members to endorse the proposal.
Mr Bekker (IFP) asked whether it would not be necessary to add words such as, "to be dealt with" or "since it is being dealt with", to the resolution.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) explained that in terms of the recommendation by the committee to the house, members of the committee would be able to emphasise their individual positions when the matter was being dealt with in the house.
He asked whether there was agreement on the proposal made. The committee agreed.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) confirmed that the committee had agreed. He stated that the 'Proposal would not be proceeded with'. He noted that the report had both options in it, and that the outcome had not been predetermined in any way.
Proposals to the Fund for Victims of Crime Bill
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) moved on to the Fund for Victims of Crime Bill. The amendment had been proposed by Mr Gibson (DP). He explained that the committee had followed the same process as with all previous proposals. The issue was now up for discussion with the committee. The floor was opened to questions.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) noted that it would be important to ensure that the members of the committee had read all the relevant documentation, because it was important to ensure that members were cross-referring in good faith. He said that the process was clear and that the matter had the same components as the last proposal. The issue was very complex and would be better addressed by the legislative process, rather than being dealt with in a piece-meal fashion. He suggested that it would be necessary to allow the process to unfold, and that the committee should leave the matter in the hands of the relevant portfolio committee. The proposal would therefore make input in that process.
Mr Magwanishe (ANC) stated the Justice Committee was also dealing with the Bill as a Compensational Victims Fund Bill.
Mr Ainslie said that this was all the more reason to allow Mr Gibson to feed into that process. In addition, the South African Law Commission was already engaged in extensive investigations into the matter, and Mr Gibson would also be able to feed into that process. He noted that he did not think that the proposal had any merit, especially when compared to the former proposal.
Mr Abrahams (UDM) wanted to ask the members of the committee if they were satisfied with the fact that the Bill would adequately deal with the principle contained in the proposal.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) explained that the SALC had been commissioned to deal with the question of victims of crime. He said that Mr Gibson had referred to a sum of R500 million in his proposal. However, the sentiments of the committee were the victims of crime did have to be compensated. The only problem was the question of how to go about facilitating this initiative.
Mr Da Camara (DP) said that he was new to the committee, and as a result he was not 100% sure of the status of the Bill. He made the point that it was necessary to ensure that the principle contained in the proposal was not lost in the process. He therefore proposed that the matter should stay on the table.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) explained that the committee had dealt with this issue on its agenda for a while now. There had been concern that the committee was not dealing with the proposals it received. He stated that as Parliament was approaching the end of the year, it would be essential to deal with all current matters to their finality. He added that members that did feel strongly about the matter could still air their opinions before the National Assembly.
Mr Mshudulu (ANC) stated that there was nowhere where the desirability of the proposals had been undermined. He felt that once having exhausted the process that the committee could follow, the committee was not able to take the matter any further. He explained that if the committee had the money, it would be able to personally see the proposals agreed upon to their finality.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) proposed that the committee would recommend to the National Assembly that the proposal should not be dealt with any further.
The committee agreed with his proposal.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) reiterated the fact that the proposal would not be proceeded with.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) gave thanks to the committee members for being present at the meeting. He asked whether there were any final matters before closing the meeting.
Mr P Gerber (ANC) said that with regards to the issues that had been dealt with in the meeting, he could not say that he had ever seen a letter from a department indicating that a Bill was mature. He felt that the committee should, especially in the case of the proposal by Mrs Taljaard, further deliberate the matter. This was in order to encourage private members to become involved in the process of passing Bills.
Mr Hendrikse (ANC) interrupted him and said that Mr Gerber was out of order. He explained that the committee had already disposed of the matter, and that he would be able to raise his reservations at the next committee meeting. He said that as a politician and a Member of Parliament, his comments were out of line.
The meeting was adjourned.
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