National Land Transport Bill: negotiating mandate & further deliberations

NCOP Public Services

16 October 2008
Chairperson: Mr R Tau (ANC; Northern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The negotiating mandates on the National Land Transport Bill were submitted by all provinces. All the negotiating mandates broadly supported the Bill, but each proposed detailed amendments that they felt should be incorporated.  The Department of Transport presented a new document to the Committee containing new changes arising out of the decisions taken by the Portfolio Committee on Transport. However, it was noted that these most recent amendments had not been included in the version of the Bill that the Members had taken to their provinces.

The Committee therefore concluded that the version of the National Land Transport Bill on which the provinces had been briefed was essentially the incorrect version. It resolved, therefore, that the Department would have to incorporate the changes into a C-version of the Bill, which must then be returned to the National Assembly for consideration, and confirmation, and subsequently brought back to the NCOP. The Committee noted that the new version of the Bill should include the submissions made by Mr David Munton, the National Transport Advisor of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association and the South African Local Government Association.

In view of this decision, the Committee ruled that the Department had to withdraw this version of the Bill and write to the presiding officer of the NCOP to officially withdraw the legislation. The Committee would produce a report to the House on the decisions taken.

Because provinces had made an effort to submit their negotiating mandates, the NCOP would, in the meantime, send these changes through to the provinces so that they could commence their work on the amended Bill.

Meeting report

National Land Transport Bill: Consideration of Negotiating Mandates
The Chairperson reported that the delegates had returned with the negotiating mandates.

He reported that the Eastern Cape had no permanent delegate. He read the Eastern Cape mandate, which was to the effect that the Eastern Cape supported the Bill, but listed several challenges that needed to be addressed.

Mr C van Rooyen (ANC; Free State) read the negotiating mandates for Free State. Free State voted for the adoption of the Bill, but asked that the inputs and considerations listed in the negotiating mandate be taken into account.

Mr M Mzizi (IFP; Gauteng) drew the Committee's attention to point 4.1 in the Gauteng negotiating mandate, particularly the comments on Clause 82 (3) and the general submissions listed on page 3. Other than that, Gauteng had no problems, and supported the principle and detail of the National Land Transport Bill.

Ms M Oliphant (ANC; Kwazulu-Natal) read the proposed amendments contained in the negotiating mandate of Kwazulu-Natal. Kwazulu-Natal supported the Bill, provided that the submitted amendments were considered and consolidated in the Bill.

The Chairperson noted that it seemed that some substantive issues were raised in Gauteng's negotiating mandate. He hoped that the Department of Transport (DoT) would take note of Gauteng's issues in their responses.

Ms Oliphant stated that the Committee should not compare the Gauteng negotiating mandate with that of the Kwazulu-Natal, as the issues she had raised were particular to Kwazulu-Natal.

The Chairperson responded that he thought that the particular clauses noted by Gauteng needed a response from the Department.

Mr Mzizi replied that he would take the matter up with the Gauteng legislature, noting that he had been given no specific directions regarding issues to highlight in the meeting.

The Chairperson reiterated that those issues had to be considered by the Department.

Mr A Watson (DA; Mpumalanga) agreed.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC; Limpopo) remarked that the Limpopo negotiating mandate was straightforward. She did note that the time constraint for dealing with the Bill was raised as an issue. She read the negotiating mandate, and reported that the Taxi Association was adamant that they needed more time to deal with the Bill. Limpopo had voted in favour of the Bill, taking into account the observations of the Limpopo legislature and the public submissions as detailed in the mandate.

Mr Watson asked how the Committee could accommodate the later inputs, specifically those of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The Chairperson responded that the Members must flag that issue for later discussion.

Mr Watson reported that Mpumalanga voted in favour of the Bill.

The Chairperson reported that the Northern Cape, taking note of the concerns detailed in the negotiating mandate, voted in favour of the Bill. He specifically noted paragraph 2.5 in the mandate, detailing the concerns that the Provincial Committee wished to have taken into consideration.

Rev P Moatshe (ANC; North West) reported that the North West supported the Bill, and adopted them, except for the changes that they had suggested, which were detailed in the negotiating mandate.

Mr F Adams (ANC; Western Cape) read the negotiating mandate of the Western Cape. He noted the annexure submitted by Mr David Munton, National Transport Advisor: Southern Africa Tourism Services Association. The Committee felt that the Department should look at these proposals. He noted that the Western Cape would prefer to have feedback in writing on these recommendations.

Mr Watson seconded the comment that the Department must consider Mr Munton's proposals. Mr Munton had been attendance at most of the meetings on these Bills and had devoted himself to transport issues in the Western Cape and the rest of the country.

Mr van Rooyen noted that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) had also submitted proposals. Some valid issues had been raised that should also be considered by the Department.

The Chairperson asked if the Committee was now dealing with the mandates. It was clear that all of the provinces had held public hearings. SALGA, as an interested party, should have made a submission at the public hearings. He was worried about the constitutionality of the process, as the negotiating mandates of the provinces should have taken account of the views of the various stakeholders.

Mr Watson responded that the Constitution made provision for SALGA to participate in the National Council Of Provinces (NCOP), and they had a right to debate in the NCOP. He asked where the national input of SALGA would be heard, if not by the NCOP at the stage when it was considering the negotiating mandates. He did not want SALGA to enter at the level of the NCOP debate and he proposed that the Committee be allowed to consider the SALGA input, and receive the advice of the Department.

Mr Mzizi asked if SALGA had a lower standing in the NCOP.

Ms Oliphant confirmed that SALGA was a part of the NCOP, and were supposed to be able to present proposals and ask questions. She suggested that one of the Committee members should read the proposals and have the Department respond to the issues raised by SALGA.

The Chairperson responded that he did not want to dismiss SALGA's submission. He noted the points in the submission and read the recommendations.

Mr Watson asked where the document titled, National Land Transport Bill: Changes to the "B" version had emanated.

The Chairperson responded that the document came from the Department.

Mr Jits Patel, Acting Chief Director: Integrated Transport Planning, Department of Transport, responded that the document covered the consequential amendments, based on what the Portfolio Committee had agreed to, for the B version of the Bill. The State Law Advisers did not have the time to complete these amendments at that time.

Mr Steven Shalang, Deputy Director (Legislation), Department of Transport, commented that the document dealt with consequential amendments and the correction of some mistakes that had been made.

Mr Watson asked in which version these changes would be captured.

Mr van Rooyen commented that not all the changes were merely consequential.

Mr Mzizi again asked where the document came from, and where the changes it contained were still to be added.

Mr Patel replied that the process in the Portfolio Committee had been very intensive. The Department had been sent back to redraft the legislation two or three times. On the final day, when the Portfolio Committee had agreed to the B-version, there were more changes. It was left to the State Law Advisers to effect all of the consequential amendments. The whole numbering system of the Bill had to be changed, but due to the time constraints, the State Law Advisers were not able at that stage to make this version available.

Mr Mzizi recalled the process where the Portfolio Committees of the National Assembly voted on a Bill, clause by clause. The NCOP was not challenging the amendments, but the problem was that these changes had not been effected to the Bill that Members had taken to the Provinces for consideration, and which had then been passed.

Mr Watson agreed that the Committee could not accept this. The Select Committee was briefed on this Bill on 3 September 2008. He had the feeling that there was an attempt to use the NCOP to “push through” the amendments. These were serious amendments. Provinces had been misled, as they had not been briefed upon, nor had accepted, the correct version of the Bill. The procedure had been completely incorrect. 

Ms Oliphant asked why the Department of Transport (DoT) had not come forth with this document at the first instance. She suggested that the Select Committee have a meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Transport, or that the Chairpersons of the two Committees should liaise in order to go through this document.

Mr van Rooyen stated that the amendments were substantial. He reiterated that Members had unwittingly presented the wrong version to the provinces. It was difficult to understand how this had happened.

Mr Adams agreed with the suggestion to send the amendments back to the provinces so that they may incorporate them into the Bill.

Mr Watson replied that he did not think that was fair to provinces.

Mr Moatshe expressed his strong disapproval of the Chairpersons of the two Committees meeting to try to resolve the issues. There was no way out of the difficulties, and he felt that the Select Committee might have to start this process again, from the beginning. This new document effectively nullified everything they had presented to the provinces.

Mr Mziwamadoda Titus, Senior State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, responded that he agreed that some of the changes were substantial, but that the State Law Advisers were satisfied that all the amendments had been agreed upon by the Portfolio Committee. These changes had been sent to the National Assembly and read by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport. He accepted that the cross referencing might still have errors. These errors could be corrected without affecting the substance of the Bill.

Mr Shalang agreed that the cross referencing was a good illustration of the point that these changes were just corrections. He pointed out that there were corrections of headings and the removal of terms from clauses. He asked the Committee to look at the document, and to identify issues that caused problems, so that they could be addressed. He reiterated that the B version did contain substantial amendments.

Mr Watson asked how the B part of the Bill got “slipped in” if it was not yet in the Bill.

The Chairperson noted that it was not in issue that the Portfolio Committee had clearly agreed to the amendments. He asked what the Department would have to do in order to make sure that these changes would be incorporated into the Bill.

Mr van Rooyen reiterated that the Members were being misled again. These substantial changes were not reflected in the Bill that Members and their provinces had received. .

Mr Watson commented that in his 15 years in public politics, something like this had never been done.

The Committee closed the meeting for fifteen minutes while they deliberated on how to proceed.

On resumption of the meeting, the Chairperson noted that Parliament had been embarrassed on a previous occasions, and the NCOP in particular had had court rulings made against it on matters of procedure. This was a very difficult position. The Committee took strong exception to how the process was conducted.

The Committee had decided that the provinces had been briefed on the wrong piece of legislation. The Department would have to incorporate all the changes into a "C" version of Bill. This C version would then have to go back to the National Assembly for consideration and confirmation. Only then could it be brought back to the NCOP for proper consideration. However, because provinces had made an effort to submit their negotiating mandates, the NCOP would send these changes to the provinces so that they could commence the procedures to consider the correct version of the Bill.

Mr Watson requested that this process of referral back should then include the submissions made by Mr Munton and SALGA

Ms Oliphant stated that the Department had to withdraw the version of the Bill presented initially to the NCOP. It would have to write to the Presiding Officer of the NCOP to officially withdraw the legislation. For its part, the Committee would produce a report to the House on the decision taken.

The Chairperson thanked all in attendance for their interest and efforts.

The meeting was adjourned.


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