The Committee rejected the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment Bill, as they had noticed that there were issues that had arisen from the Bill in 2005 that had not been resolved.
The Social Housing Bill was discussed and the Committee adopted the National Council of Provinces’ amendments.
There was concern about some of the NCOP amendments for the Housing Development Agency Bill as they were not what the Committee had wanted. After lengthy discussion about the amendments, it was decided that the Committee would resort to a mediation process where two amendment issues would be resolved. The issues included changes to the wording of two of the NCOP amendments.
The Chairperson appealed to the Committee to set up a management committee that would organise the Committee’s conference, which was scheduled to happen in September.
Formal Decision on Prevention of Illegal Evictions Bill
The Chair informed Members that given the time that they had, there was no way that the Committee would do justice to what they wanted to do. She urged Members to accept the fact that the Committee rejected the Bill. She read the proposed Committee Report about the Committee’s rejection. It stated that the Bill had been referred to the Committee on the 14 April 2005. After the public hearings, the Committee had resolved to incorporate two matters into the Bill. These were the position of farm workers in relation to evictions, and the alignment of the provisions of the Bill with the Extension of Security of Tenure Act and the Labour Tenants Act. The Minister of Housing subsequently withdrew the Bill. The Bill was reintroduced to the Committee on the 7 March 2008. The Committee noted with concern that the issues that were raised in 2005 had not been sufficiently addressed. The Committee therefore recommended that the Bill be rejected.
The Committee adopted this report.
National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Amendments to Social Housing Bill
Ms Ntombebandla Mnyikiso, a State Law Adviser, read out the amendments. The Committee adopted the amendments.
Mr A Steyn (DA) commented that he accepted the amendments; however, he wondered if the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) did not think it was necessary to define “child-headed households”.
Ms Mnyikiso answered that the NCOP did not think it was necessary, as it had to be seen as the “normal” dictionary definition.
NCOP Amendments to the Housing Development Agency Bill
Ms Suraya Williams, State Law Adviser, read out the amendments:
The amendment on page 4, line 28 was to omit “ensure” and substitute “monitor”.
Mr Steyn stated that the whole purpose of the Committee’s discussion as far as the Housing Development Agency (HDA) was concerned, was not only for them to monitor but also for them to ensure certain things such as integrated planning. The two words had different meanings. The Committee’s view was that rather than just monitoring, they were to ensure that projects were completed. He proposed that the Committee leave the word “ensure” in the clause.
Ms Williams suggested that the clause be amended to “ensure and monitor”. This showed that there was a process that followed.
The Committee agreed.
Mr Steyn asked what process the Committee would have to follow if changes were made to the NCOP’s amendments. The Committee did not want to delay unnecessarily the implementation of the Bill. He wanted to know if the amendment would then go back to the NCOP or if there would be some form of mediation.
A representative from the Department of Housing stated that the Committee could not propose new amendments. They could, however; amend the already proposed NCOP amendments.
The Department later informed the Committee that changing “monitor” to “ensure and monitor” would change the NCOP amendment, which meant that the Committee was amending the D-Bill. If the Committee could leave the subsection with “monitor” then it would be fine.
The Chairperson stated that they did not want anything to go back to the NCOP.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) stated that under “normal circumstances” he would reject the NCOP amendment, as it changed what the Committee wanted when it deliberated on the Bill. The Committee wanted to ensure that there was centrally coordinated planning and budgeting. To “monitor” did not ensure that this happened.
Mr Steyn stated that it was his understanding that if the Committee rejected an NCOP amendment, then the legislation did not have to go back to the NCOP. He recommended that the Committee reject “monitor” and leave the subsection as “ensure”, which was what the Committee wanted.
The Chairperson asked how long the process would take if the legislation had to go back to the NCOP.
The Department stated that the Committee would have to wait for a Mediation Committee to be set up.
Ms Williams informed the Committee that there was another option. They could pass the Bill so that it got off the ground and then amend it at a later stage.
Mr Schneemann stated that the Committee and the NCOP could go for mediation only if there was a resolution by House. The Mediation Committee had to be formed by both Houses. He suggested that the Committee ask its Whip to find out if the plenary would be able to accommodate the Committee.
Mr Steyn stated again that the Committee had been told that the legislation would not have to go back to the NCOP if its amendments were rejected. The Committee was not amending the Bill. By rejecting the NCOP’s amendment, the subsection would be left unchanged.
The Department’s understanding was that they were working with the D-Bill. The Committee was now looking at amendments from the NCOP. It was the Department’s understanding that if the Committee wanted to amend something in the D-Bill coming from the NCOP, it meant that the Committee was amending the D-Bill.
The Chairperson informed the Committee that this meant that they would have to wait and send the legislation back to the NCOP.
Mr Schneemann suggested that the Committee hold back on the Bill and that the Chairperson and the Whip find out if the plenary could accommodate the mediation between the Committee and the NCOP.
The Chairperson accepted this on the condition that the Committee not add any other the amendment, as she wanted to focus on this one. And mediation should only be focused on this clause.
The Department stated that the Committee had to report to the House. If the House adopted the Committee’s report, then the Bill would immediately go for mediation.
Mr Steyn stated that the law advisers should find out from the relevant officials about what would happen if the amendment were rejected. He wondered if there was a mediation process in which the two Chairpersons could get together, as these were small amendment issues that needed to be resolved.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would adjourn for a few minutes while the law advisers’ found out what would happen.
The clause read: On page 5, in line 57, after “must”, to insert ”after consultation with MINMEC”.
Members wondered why MINMEC was included in the subsection.
Mr Schneemann asked if the Committee could reject the NCOP amendment without the legislation having to go back to the NCOP.
The Chairperson stated that they could. The amendments were brought to the Portfolio Committee so that Members had an understanding of the issues that the NCOP had raised. However, sometimes the NCOP did not take into consideration issues that were already dealt with in the Portfolio Committee. The MINMEC issue had arisen earlier on and the reason why the Committee did not want to include the amendment was because it would have delayed the process. The Minister had to take into account MINMEC’s operations. Therefore, before any decisions would be taken, there would have to be a resolution with MINMEC. The Chairperson stated that things could not operate that way.
The Chairperson then also wondered if a rejection of the amendment meant that the legislation had to go back to the NCOP.
Ms Williams stated that she could not answer at that point; she had to check the rules. She said that the Parliamentary Law Adviser would be in a better position to answer.
The Department stated that according to Section 76, if the Committee rejected the NCOP amendment, then the issue would go for mediation.
Mr Schneemann wondered if legislation other than in Housing had a section that stated that the Minister had to consult with MINMEC before taking any decisions. He asked if this was standard practice in any legislation.
The Department stated that the example that was readily available was the Housing Act, which stated that the Minister, in executing her mandate, had to consult with the MECs. In this case, practically, because MINMEC was part of the Inter-Governmental Relations Act, the consultation would take place anyway, as it was established to facilitate consultation between the Minister and the Provinces. From a logistical point of view, it was inconsequential. The outcome of the Act could still be achieved.
The Chairperson appealed to the Committee to agree to the amendment, as there was no harm in leaving it in and rejecting it would slow down the implementation of the Bill.
Ms Williams stated that the Committee could look at creative ways of defining “consultation” so that the process of implementing the Bill was not held up.
The Amendment was adopted.
The wording of the clause was amended. The word “subject” was amended to “in terms of”.
This amendment could be an issue for the Committee, as it would change the wording of the sentence.
Conclusion about Mediation Committee
At the end of the meeting, the Chairperson informed the Members that the law advisers’ were told that the mediation process could be set up without delay. The Committee needed to submit its report to Parliament that would state that all the other NCOP amendments were agreed to. However, there were two issues that needed to be resolved. The Mediation Committee could be set up the next day as long as the Committee sent the report to Parliament.
Mr Steyn wanted to know what the mediation process would entail.
The Chairperson stated that the Mediation Committee would be set up like any other ad hoc committee.
The Chairperson stated that a management committee had to be set up for the conference. The conference would take place in September; however, the Committee had to look at Parliament’s programme as well as the Committee’s programme because Member’s did not want any clashes.
The Chairperson also thanked the Members who were going to represent the Committee at the Women’s Housing Indaba in Kimberly.
The meeting was adjourned.
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