Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill [B12B-2008]: Further deliberations

Social Development

17 June 2008
Chairperson: Adv T Masutha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee and the Department proceeded to go through the Bill once again, one chapter at a time, to review amendments and other changes effected, in preparation for the voting which was due on 19 June. The Committee expressed its concern with the errors, not all of which could be attributable to the printers and certain references were corrected, such as ensuring that the title in the index and the title of the Chapter agreed.

All references to training in the Bill were replaced with skills development. There were technical amendments made to the definitions and changes to the index.

The particular challenges of Chapter 2 of the Bill were noted as this chapter was a new addition, added to deal with collaboration between the Minister of Social Development and other governmental stakeholders. Clause 3(2) and 3(3) were combined. Clause 5 now included local and provincial government as key stakeholders in the implementation of inter-sectoral strategies to combat substance abuse. ‘Progression of abuse’ was added to Clause 5(b) to indicate the negative progression of substance abuse.

Clause 11 was moved to Chapter 4. ‘Mental health practitioners’ was inserted in clause 16 to cover the full scope of treatment for the interchange between the treatment centre and mental health for a dual diagnosis.The five year period for renewal of a registration certificate was questioned by the Committee with regard to capacity for ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation. The challenge of public halfway houses to disseminate information was raised by the Department. Clause 12 added a reference to the Department of Correctional Services, and clause 14(3) weas also brought in line. In Chapter 3 reference was now made in the principles to “appropriate age”. Clause 20(3)(e) was retained by (b) and (c) were deleted.
In Clause 22(3)(c) the words “where appropriate” were added. A redrafted clause (27)(b) was created to separate diversion and early intervention. The Committee was critical of the fact that the Bill made no mention of support groups for non-users of substances. There was extensive debate regarding recovery and if a substance abuser could every recover. The Department was of the opinion that a substance abuser never fully recovered. The Committee took the position that if a sector claims recovery then this could not be questioned. Clause 30(b) was reformulated. In Chapter 8 it was suggested that the definition of ‘involuntary service user’ should be reviewed, as a person could be a service user at any level. In Chapter 10 there was addition of references to “fit and proper”. A new clause 57 was added. The Committee expressed some concerns over the powers given to mayors. The Department was asked to attend to a final amendment and proof-reading of the Bill.

Meeting report

Prevention of and Treatment of Substance Abuse Bill (the Bill) Further deliberations
The Chairperson noted that the printed version of the Bill (B-version) did not show the changes effected. He asked the State Law Advisor, Mr Malusi Ncolo, to introduce the Bill and procedure for engagement.

Mr Ncolo noted that he had received the proofs this morning and seen some printing mistakes. He suggested that the mistakes be highlighted first and thereafter the Bill could be read clause by clause.

The Chairperson noted that the State Law Advisors (SLA) were responsible for the body of the Bill until the final version was ready for Parliament.

He decided that the Bill should be considered chapter by chapter and the State Law Advisers could raise the issues as they came up. The Department of Social Development (DSD) were thus requested to read through the various clauses and introduce them for debate.

Preamble and Index
Mr Puseletso Loselo, Chief Director Legal Services: DSD stated that there was agreement to replace training with ‘skills development’ in the long title.

Mr Pierre Viviers, Deputy Director: Substance Abuse, DSD said that Clause 51 of the Index needed to be changed to ‘community-based services’. 

Mr Ncolo said that in Chapter 6 of the Index, ‘purpose’ should be ‘purposes’; and Clause 49 should  read ‘who are not South African citizens or Permanent Residents’

Mr Mogotsi Kalaeamodimo, Director: Substance Abuse, DSD, indicated that Clause 11 should be inserted under Chapter 4.

The Chairperson noted that a number of errors had been picked up. He asked if it was the responsibility of the printers or the State Law Advisers to ensure that there were no errors. He asked further if the printed version differed from the document sent to the Committee.

Mr Ncolo said that the printers printed what was sent to them, and there were only a few errors.

Mr B Solo (ANC) asked what the process was once the Bill was given to the printers. He stated that it should have been checked before it was sent to the printers because the Department was ultimately responsible. He added that the Department and the State Law Advisers (SLA) could not explain all the errors in the document, so it seemed that no proper checking had occurred before it was sent to the printers.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) asked that this morning’s time be used to go through the Bill without focussing on the setbacks regarding printing.

Mr Loselo said that some of the errors had occurred as a result of the printing process.

Ms Nomathemba Kela, Chief Director: Welfare Services, DSD said that Clause 20 in the index was not the same as in the body of Bill, as it should be ‘Establishment  of public halfway house’.

Ms Dudley proposed a new heading for Chapter 4: ‘Prevention and Early Intervention Services’ and said that this should be consistent throughout Bill.

Mr Loselo – proposed that in line 4, ‘use’ should be left out as the definition of ‘abuse’ includes ‘use’.

Ms Kela stated that abuse was being dealt with here and the Bill was wanting to prevent abuse.

The Chairperson argued that the issue was about ‘abuse’, not ‘use’. He added that ‘use’ should remain if ‘abuse’ had to be prevented.

Ms M Gumede (ANC) said that the abuse of substances came from the use of substances.

The Chairperson then noted that the role of community-based services was being defined, so ‘use’ should be removed.

Mr Viviers said that out-patient treatment centres were included in the definition of private treatment centres, so ‘out-patient’ could be taken out, as out-patient services would not be regulated. 

Chapter 2.
The Chairperson asked if there should be a specific reference to the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP), as set out in Clause 3(4).

Ms Dudley answered that it should remain as there was no certainty about the linkage, and both aspects were fully covered this way.

Mr Ncolo noted a problem with cross-referencing, as Clause 3(2) did not talk to Clause 56.

Mr Loselo stated that Clause 3(6) laid out the powers and functions of the Central Drug Authority.

Ms Dudley said that this clause was under a different section, but was here being inserted as Sub-clause (6).

Mr Ncolo asked if a decision had been made on sub-clause (2).

Ms Dudley proposed, and it was agreed,that sub-clauses (2) and (3) be combined

The Chairperson stated that Chapter 2 had particular challenges because it was the Department’s own insertion, and this created the need to ensure that the Bill was not compromised with a new Chapter. The primary focus of Chapter 1 was the obligation on certain Ministers to perform certain duties, and Chapter 2 dealt with collaboration. The one thing that was left out was the Minister’s responsibility for overall co-ordination, and a provision was needed to this effect. The issue of collaboration was therefore captured in Chapter 2.

Ms Dudley said that ‘collaboration’ was captured in sub-clause 4.

The Chairperson asked who co-ordinated supply reduction strategies. He asked further why co-ordination was mentioned here and not in the next chapter.

Ms Kela said that the Central Drug Authority (CDA) co-ordinated reports to the Minister. She suggested that the responsibility of the Minister could be linked to the NDMP.

The Chairperson stated that the Minister must co-ordinate the implementation of the NDMP to combat substance abuse. This followed well with sub-clause (4). Since Cabinet had to adopt the NDMP, the ground was technically already covered.

Chapter 3
Ms Semple asked if there was a reason not to include local and provincial government in Clause 5(1).

The Chairperson said this would be added again.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked why in Clause 7 the wording was used that ‘the Minister must’ but then in relation to support from service providers the wording referred to ‘the Minister may’.

Mr Loselo responded that the Minister could not be compelled to make funds available, that was why ‘may’’ was used.

The Chairperson asked if it could be said that ‘the CDA  must facilitate the adoption of’. 

Ms Kela stated that an approach could not be facilitated,  but co-operation and co-ordination could be facilitated.

Ms H Bogopane – Zulu (ANC) agreed to the adding of ‘progression of abuse’ in Clause 5(b) (iv).

The Chairperson ruled in favour of the words ‘progression of abuse…and skills development’.

Chapter 4
Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked why ‘The Minister may’ and not ‘The Minister must’ appeared in Clause 8.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked if mention had to be made, in Clause 10(1), of the National Youth Commission as it is already was  referred to in sub-clause 8(1).

Mr Loselo proposed the options of using the ‘Minister must’  and  organs of state….’ instead of the references to the National Youth Commission and other State departments.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu expressed the need for specificity regarding parents of abusers, as a pointer to family reunification.

Ms Kela said that the Department did have programmes that equipped parents to deal with children who abused substances and these aimed to enhance the skills of parents.

Ms Kela proposed the deletion of ‘substances of abuse’ in sub-clause 8(2)(a).

Chapter 5
The Chairperson asked if ‘health care providers’ was going to remain  in Clause 16, and if different bodies and councils were responsible.

Ms Kela proposed using ‘mental health practitioners’ and ‘appropriate statutory bodies’ in Clause 16.

Ms Rajbally asked if ‘Correctional Services’ could be inserted in Clause 12.

Mr Kalaeamodimo responded that by virtue of the fact that Correctional Services also had a stake in community-based services, it should be included.

The Chairperson agreed to the addition.

He questioned the use of the term ‘health care providers’.

Mr Loselo said that ‘all mental health practitioners’ would be included.

Ms Kela proposed that ‘appropriate statutory bodies’  also be included, and for consistency, Clause 14(3) would have the same references as Clause 12(1).

Chapter 6
Ms Rajbally asked if there was a difference in meaning between ‘refuse’ and ‘disapprove’ in Clause 19 (8).

The Chairperson said that there was a need to give the Director-General the flexibility to ‘refuse’.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked, with regard to Clause 19(7), if the Committee was satisfied with the five year period stipulated in the clause. She asked if the Department had the capacity to renew every five years, especially if Monitoring and Evaluation (M & E) systems were compulsory.

Ms Kela responded that the public comments received indicated that this period was too long, but the Department had decided to retain ‘five years’ with ongoing M & E.

Mr Loselo said that not all facilities would renew in the same year.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked whether minimum sentences were being used in the Bill.

The Chairperson explained that this period was the maximum and not the minimum period. The rule governing the setting of penalties prescribed the  maximum sentence that could be imposed.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu stated that communities included families and children and a clear reference had to be made regarding this. ‘Appropriate age’ should also be considered for inclusion in terms of information dissemination, as well as in respect of  families at risk’. 

The Chairperson recommended that  appropriate age’ be added to the ‘Principles’ section of the Bill, in Chapter 3.

Ms Kela stated that public halfway houses were a challenge for the communities situated close to these centres. Information had to be disseminated to communities in close proximity to public halfway houses, as these were the areas where the service users were located.

The Chairperson indicated that in Clause 20(3), (e) would  be retained while (b) and (c) would be deleted.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked if ‘where appropriate’ could be added to Clause 22(3)(c) so that it was not a blanket demand. She also asked if there was agreement that the Director-General was going to establish M & E panels, as opposed to the Minister.

Mr Loselo agreed to the addition and the question of the Director-General establishing M& E panels.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asked what ‘unnatural death’ meant in Clause 26, and asked why the word ‘death’ could not be used.

Mr Loselo said that ‘natural or unnatural death’ could be inserted.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu argued that reporting happened after the death had occurred.

Mr Loselo said that only a medical practitioner could declare a death ‘natural’ or unnatural’. The investigation could take place thereafter.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu asserted that ‘diversion’ and ‘early intervention’ could not be used in the same sentence, as was the case in Clause 27(b).

The Chairperson asked for agreement to create a new Clause 27(c), to link diversion in the context of substance abuse.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu stated that Clause 28 just acknowledged the Children’s Act, by using the different sections of the Act. She added that this section should have been shorter.

The Chairperson responded that there was an attempt to look at key institutional arrangements important to the inclusion of affected children, and not users specifically, so as to bring on board core linkages between the Children’s Act and this Bill.

Chapter 7
Ms Kela said that support groups could not be regulated because they were self-interest groups. They could however be supported and linked with other groups.

The Chairperson said that support groups were confined to users themselves for purposes of re-integration and after-care. There could be support groups consisting of people undergoing early intervention, prevention, and concerned communities.

He asked if a slot could be found for a clause on ‘support groups’ in Chapter 3 or a sub-clause in Chapter 7. He added that this should have been done by the Department. He added further that this issue would be confined to support groups of service users themselves in relation to after-care and reintegration.

Ms Kela asserted that a small provision for ‘support groups’ as part of community-based services could be made in Clause 30.

The Chairperson stated that the clause must stays as it was, as the Department had had the opportunity to change it, but had failed to do so.

Mr Viviers proposed a reformulation for the start of sub- clause (b): ‘facilitate access to service users in recovery from substance abuse…..

The reformulation was accepted.

Ms Kela said that ‘dependency’ and ‘drug use’ were two different concepts in terms of the recovering process, and determination of whether recovery had occurred.

The Chairperson expressed a preference to accede to a sectoral request to show sensitivity to those who had recovered. The sector concerned had asserted that if a person was seen to keep away from substances permanently, then that person could be regarded as having recovered. Abstinence meant recovery.

Mr Viviers argued that if the approach was adopted that dependency could be cured, it would detract from the objectives of this Bill.

The Chairperson counter-argued that continued abstinence equalled recovery.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu expressed support for Mr Viviers’ position and added that a person who had recovered was not a service user any more. Part of the reason why people remained sober was because of the support they received. The services that people needed were limited, because once there was recovery the Bill did not apply to the ex-user any more.

The Chairperson said that it could not be questioned if the sector asserted recovery and abstinence.

Mr Viviers referred to the example of alcoholism, and said that only if a person could drink ‘normally’ like others, could it be said that the person had recovered.
Ms Bogopane-Zulu expressed concern about the Committee and Department’s responses having a limiting effect on intervention services. The ongoing support offered should be acknowledged.

Chapter 8
Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that this Chapter contained too much detail and was repetitive. She noted that much of what was listed in this Chapter was covered by the Criminal Procedure Act.

Ms Kela explained that some people had a dual diagnosis, and this clause facilitated the transfer between mental healthcare and the treatment facility.

The definition of ‘involuntary service user’ should be reviewed, as a person could be a service user at any level.

Chapter 10
Ms Bogopane-Zulu said that the levels of appointment of public servants to the Central Drug Authority (CDA) should be prescribed. She asked if government officials could be appointed to the CDA.

Mr Loselo replied that all appointments were made by the Minister of Social Development and should be at director level, or the equivalent.

Ms Lana Petersen, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, DSD, said that a reference to a  ‘fit and proper person’ was missing from the chapter. 

This was added to the Chapter.

Ms Kela noted that the Minister had asked the Department to make provision for a secretariat at provincial substance abuse forums. She proposed the formulation of a new clause to account for this.

Chairperson agreed to the formulation of a new Clause 57.

Chapter 11
The Chairperson asked if provision was made for the mayor to delegate powers. He stated that such a provision should be made. A provision should also be made for the MEC to delegate to the mayor.

Ms I Direko (ANC) was alarmed that mayors had the powers afforded to them in the Bill. This would never have happened if had she been present in the deliberation meetings.

New clauses were crafted to allow mayors to delegate power to other officials in the municipality; and for the MEC to delegate to the mayor.

Mr Solo noted that only the mayor had executive authority.

Ms Kela raised a serious policy issue regarding Clause 13(4) and asked if a Clause 13(4)(f) could be created for the inclusion of support groups.

Ms Bogopane-Zulu expressed her support for the creation of the clause but also her anger at the Chairperson for allowing the Department to add a new sub-clause, when other requests from the Committee had been refused.

Chairperson said that the drafters would be left to complete amendments to the Bill and submit it to the printers.

Mr Loselo noted that two versions of the Bill would be available, one that would simply list the Portfolio Committee’s amendments, and one that would reflect all the wording with the changes effected, for comparison.

The meeting was adjourned.

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