Consumer Protection Bill: final mandates and adoption of bill

NCOP Economic and Business Development

05 August 2008
Chairperson: Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo province).
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Meeting Summary

The Committee heard the final voting mandates of the Provinces in respect of the Consumer Protection Bill. The Eastern Cape and Free State indicated their support for the Bill. Gauteng indicated that it was in not in a position to vote in favour of the Bill because of some reasons. Those include financial implications and communication problems, which caused some concern to the Committee. Limpopo, Mpumulanga, Kwazulu Natal, Northern and Western Cape and North West indicated their support of the Bill.

The Committee then read through a document prepared by the legal drafters at the Department of Trade and Industry, giving the changes agreed to by the Committee. It was indicated that there were some further issues, mostly relating to grammatical corrections or re-formulation of the wording (but not the principle) of clauses, to avoid misinterpretation. A Member suggested that the matter be referred back to Provinces but the Chairperson indicated that this would not be possible. Members accepted the motion of desirability, and the Committee Report and eight Provinces voted in favour of the adoption of the Bill.

Meeting report

Consumer Protection Bill (the Bill): Final mandates of provinces.
The Chairperson noted that the Eastern Cape delegate had tendered apologies. He read out the Eastern Cape final mandate. The mandate stated that the province supported the Bill in its amended form. He gave Members the opportunity for questions, but none were raised.

Mr N Mqungquthu, (ANC, Free State) stated that the Free State’s Tourism, Environmental and Economic Affairs Committee had considered the Bill. The province resolved to support the Bill in its amended form.

Ms S Chen (ANC, Gauteng) indicated that Gauteng was not in a position to confer a voting mandate for its delegate in favour of the Bill in its current form. Gauteng did not receive some of the documents regarding the bill on time. Another reason cited was the financial implications of the Bill.

Ms P Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked the state chief legal advisor to comment on the issue.

Mr Theo Hercules, State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, stressed that there were probably some gaps in the communication and administration lines that were likely to have caused some of Gauteng’s problems.

The Chairperson was worried that Gauteng had raised a number of problems. He was very concerned about the fact that they did not receive some of the important documents. It was precisely these types of problems that were likely to cause concerns and create setbacks.

Mr W Douglas (ACDP, Western Cape) wondered as to where the root of the problem lay.

Mr N Mqungquthu (ANC, Free State), on behalf of the Free State province, again indicated that the Province was giving authority to its delegate for adoption of the Bill as amended by the NCOP.

The Chairperson praised the province’s final mandate in support for the Bill, which he said was  “understandable”.

Mr Johan Strydom, State Law Adviser, Department of Trade and Industry, explained the procedure. He commented that the Department had clearly indicated changes to the Bill. He also indicated that the staff in charge of printing could not make changes to the Bill unless they were authorised to do so by this Committee.

Ms Koleka Beja, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, concurred with Mr Strydom.

Mr Douglas asked the provinces to vote once again.

Ms Themba indicated that if the documents were prepared on time they would surely have arrived on time as well. She indicated that she could not understand why the matter should regress from final mandates to the level of provinces voting mandates again.

The Chairperson commented that there was a communication gap somewhere. This had resulted in the Gauteng delegate not voting on that issue because she has no mandate to do so.

A Parliamentary official indicated that the B version of the Bill did not go to the House.

The Chairperson indicated that the arrangement by Gauteng was making it difficult for the matter to proceed. It seemed to him that the Committee would have to hold back and re-organise matters before Gauteng could present their final mandate to the Committee.

Ms Themba noted that it did appear that Gauteng was supporting the principle of the Bill.

The Chairperson read out the mandate of Limpopo. That provincial legislature had conferred the mandate on its representatives to vote in favour of the Bill.

Mrs Themba indicated that the provincial legislature of Mpumulanga had conferred a mandate to its delegate to vote in favour of the Bill.

The Chairperson read out the mandate of Kwazulu Natal, noting that Kwazulu Natal had resolved to support the Bill in its amended form.

Ms B Ntembe (ANC, Northern Cape) presented the Northern Cape’s final mandate, indicating that before the decision was taken the provincial government held public hearings in different towns around the province.

Ms Themba interrupted and asked that she not repeat what was presented in the previous meetings.

Ms Ntembe continued that the province’s committee had presented the Bill to its Legislature, who authorised its representative to vote in favour of the Bill. She highlighted that Northern Cape always supported this Committee.

Mr Douglas, on behalf of the Western Cape provincial legislature, indicated that it supported the Bill in its amended form.

The Chairperson thanked those presenting the final mandates.

The Chairperson asked if Members all agreed to the proposed amendments that had previously been discussed,as set out in a tabled document.

Mr Fungai Sibanda, Chief Director: Policy and Legislation, Department of Trade and Industry, clarified some amendments on page 4 of the document.

Ms Themba asked that the Chairperson go through the document, clause by clause.

Mr Douglas disagreed, stating that the Committee had been given the proposed amendments earlier precisely so that all Members would have enough time to read them thoroughly.

Mr Mqunquthu indicated that he felt the meeting was proceeding correctly.

Ms Beja confirmed that the documents had been delivered on time, and that if there were any changes they should be able to be raised at this meeting.

Mr Strydom noted that there had been quite a number of changes set out in the document. He read out the pages and clauses in which those changes occurred. He noted that the changes were mainly concerned with grammatical errors, but some had re-worded clauses which, if left in their original form, could have severe interpretational consequences.

The Chairperson also highlighted the fact that the Committee and drafters should be checking and rechecking to avoid mistakes. He said that he would refer to the Bill.

Mr J Strydom indicated that the changes reflected on page 9 of the proposed amendments were simply corrections of an incorrect formulation. On pages 12 and 16 the clauses needed to be clarified as problems in the interpretation could lead to severe consequences.

Mr Strydom noted that clause 22 had some implications because of the use of the word ‘person’ and the same applied to clauses 36 and 37. 

He noted that changes were required to clause 41 because there could be differing implications for a person if he was regarded as a consumer, or as a prospective consumer.

Clause 42 contained grammatical problems that needed to be changed.

The wording of Clause 52 indicated that the consumer meant something more than a buyer.

The Chairperson also indicated that the term consequential damage in Clause 61was too wide. He suggested that it should be narrower and more specific.

Ms Temba indicated that some issues had to be discussed by provinces.

The Chairperson disagreed, noting that the Committee was now at the final stages of the Bill and Members could not go back to their provinces. He highlighted that Members had to vote on the desirability of the legislation.

Mr Douglas asked that the references to the 1990s amendment laws be deleted.

The Chairperson read out the Committee’s report

The Committee resolved to adopt both the Report and the Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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