Draft Bill on Social Relief Fund: deliberation

Social Development

30 October 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


31 October 2001



Chairperson: L. Saloojee       

Relevant Documents

Draft Bill on Social Relief Fund (See Appendix)



The Committee held an informal deliberation on the proposed disaster relief fund.  Some

members strongly objected to the inclusion of refugees in the consolidated Act. They said that

refugees were persons of temporary residence and would leave in due course. They noted that

given the numerous social problems the government is faced with locally adding the refugee

burden would undermine the efficacy of the bill. They suggested that the refugee bill be dealt

with separately or that Home Affairs take the responsibility.


It was clarified that the proposed bill focused on the poorest of the poor. The bill would not make

provision for persons with means and especially those who have insurance cover.



The Chair welcomed the team from the Department and members of the Disaster Relief Board.

He asked the legal advisor from the Department Mr Pierre du Preez to explain at which stage

the draft Bill was.


Mr du Preez said that the Bill is at the foundation stage of drafting. It has not been taken to the

Director-General let alone being tabled before Cabinet.  The Department was keen to have the

final draft by the end of February. In July 2001some major changes were effected on the first



Mr du Preez said that the Portfolio Committee, at its first interaction on the proposed Bill, had

suggested on a workshop around the draft Bill before it is submitted to cabinet. He said that the

present session was in line with that advice.


Ms Southgate (ACDP) said that there had been a briefing and discussions on the draft bill by

the Committee before. She objected to the move to have the bill discussed at this stage again.

She said that the discussion would be a futile exercise since cabinet may effect major changes

to the draft bill.


The Chair clarified that it has been the practice of the Committee that whenever there is a draft

bill the Committee would try to interact at the drafting stage. He said this is necessary so that

members can familiarise with the proposed provisions so that when the instrument is tabled

formally it does not seem like a new bill.


Mr du Preez agreed with the chair that this is an informal session and one that was most

valuable to the Department since the Committee's input would make a difference at this stage.


Ms Kalyan (IFP) asked if the Committee is workshopping around the bill or if it was an ordinary



The Chair said that it was a workshop forum where members would express their views on the

draft bill and that some of the inputs might augur well with the Department.


Mr Da Camara (DP)  said that the last time the Committee debated the bill the Board had

specific suggestions. He asked if the Board had also been invited to participate in the workshop.


The Chair replied that the board had been invited and its representatives were present in the



Ms Ghandi (ANC) agreed with the position taken by the Chair and expressed the view that it

was a matter of expediency that these funds be consolidated as soon as possible. The

workshop would give members new insights in the draft bill.


The Chair suggested that he would read through the draft bill and called on members to

comment whenever desired.


Clause 1

Prof. Mbadi said that it was improper to consolidate the refugee bill with the other relief funds.

He said that refugees are persons of temporary residence and would leave in due course. There

are already numerous social problems locally and that adding the refugee burden would

undermine the efficacy of the bill. He suggested that the refugee bill be dealt with separately.


Ms Mars (IFP) cautioned that members should tread carefully on the issue of refugees. A clear

line must be drawn between refugees and illegal immigrants or asylum seekers.


Mr du Preez said that one of the reasons the Department had come to the Committee was that

some issues are too contentious and that it would be right to draw from the Committee's

counsel and guidance.


Pastor Cliff Nhlapo, the Chairman of the Board, said that the issue of the refugee inclusion in the

bill has been raised before. He added that the board and other stakeholders have since

workshopped around the issue.


He explained that the current refugee bill does not make provision for social relief to persons

with refugee status. The government is bound under its international obligations to contribute to

refugees who are in distress but hastened to clarify that this does not cover illegal immigrants

and asylum seekers.


He said further that once a refugee status has been granted to an immigrant then such persons

are under the Constitution entitled to the same rights as citizens. The government must not be

seen to be circumventing its international conventions to which it is signatory.  He pointed out

that there were Home Affairs to make provision for the refugee relief then the Board would have

no reason to take up the responsibility.


Ms Ramotsami (ANC) said that it was not the intention of the Committee to sound xenophobic

but maintained that citizens were government's first priority. She suggested that Home affairs

should address the needs of refugees or that they should be accommodated in separately.


Ms Rajbally (ANC) concurred with Prof. Mbadi that Home Affairs should be asked to address

the refugee issue. Members Kasienyene (ANC) and Ms Southgate (ACDP) supported her.


Ms Southgate asked if there was an appropriate definition of a refugee to avoid



Dr Jassat (ANC) sought to respectively disagree with his colleagues. He noted that the fund is

for unexplained and unaccounted for disaster. Where refugees are caught in such a disaster it

would be inhuman and unconstitutional to exclude them from relief provision.It is advisable to be

prepared for such a disaster and hence refugees are properly covered in the bill.


Ms Ghandi (ANC) agreed with Dr. Jassat on the issue of refugees. She asked if the relief fund

had a provincial competency and if so enquired where the bill would be located in terms of the

cabinet docket.


Pastor Nhlapo read to the members the provisions of the United Nations Convention on

refugees. He said the Charter underlines that refugees must be given equal rights as citizens.

On the basis of this, the board felt that in the spirit of the UN Convention, some social relief

must be afforded to the refugees. He added that such social assistance was not

unconstitutional, immoral or unethical. To the contrary, he said, it was right to do so.


The Chair ruled that the Committee had taken note of the inputs on the issue and that

necessary consultations would take place.


Clause 2

Ms Southgate asked what was meant by the term "psychosocial" in the bill.


Mr du Preez replied that it is a condition linked to violence. He said that the terminology is in

the principal Act as well.


Dr Jassat offered to explain that it is a condition that occurs after a disaster, which needs

psychological support and counselling.


Ms Southgate asked how such a status would be determined.


Mr du Preez replied that the purpose of the bill was to consolidate a variety of legislation that

had a history of terrorism. He explained that there has to be a declaration of some sort in order

to provide for the appropriate relief. He added that the bill makes provision for situations of

contingency only.


Ms Kalyan (IFP) asked if it is proper to hold that if there is no declaration of a disaster then one

may not qualify at all.


Pastor Nlapo replied that the criterion of a disaster is to  broadened to cover the impact and

scope of the calamity.


Ms Ginwala, a board member said that a cluster of departments would make provision for what

constituted a disaster.


Ms Ghandi (ANC) suggested that the definition of the term 'political violence' should be refined

so as to avoid creating loopholes.


Ms Southgate enquired on the status of the board in terms of operations.


Mr du Preez replied that the board only meets occasionally when there was business to be



Dr. Jassat (ANC) asked if there was a definition for phrase 'psychological violence'.


Pastor Nhlapo said that one must to be cautious not to open the bill too wide as to be incapable

of logical definition. He added that it is important to contextualise the definitions that are given to

the terminologies in the bill to avoid situations of exploitation for selfish interests.


The Chair concurred with Dr. Jassat that some of the terms need refinement. He said that a

phrase like 'political violence' could cover a multiplicity of situations.


Dr Baloyi (ANC) suggested that the words "with the result" be used in place of  "for purposes".


Mr du Preez said that the suggestion makes sense but that it still looks problematic.


Dr Baloyi (ANC) said that the definition calls for proper refinement and that the drafters should

scrutinise it further.


Dr Jassat said that a disaster must not be confined to physical violence alone since

psychological impairment can at times be devastating.


Mr du Preez explained that it could be an act of terrorism or one that is declared as such by the

state president. He added that it was important that a decision has to be taken declaring the

occurrence a disaster before the provisions can kick in.


Ms Ghandi (ANC) cautioned against widening the bill more than it is necessary.


Ms Ginwala said that the Board has a set of criterion upon which to measure qualification for the



Ms Ghandi (ANC) suggested that the criteria should be incorporated in the main Act to avoid

confusion on the part of those who are affected and to target the right people.


The Chair said that the Board would take note of member's concerns.


Pastor Nhlapo said that the board had taken note of member's views but sought to clarify that

the board's mandate is focused on the poorest of the poor. He added that it was not the board's

duty to pay those with means and especially those who have insurance cover.


He agreed with the members that there was a need for some guiding criteria but noted that

situations keep charging since the facility is informed by the nature of the disaster and the

availability of resources. He said that in this instance it is more convenient to have a criteria that

is an in-house matter about which the board can amend when circumstances change.


Mr du Preez said that definitions are there to guide the interpreter of the law but that there must

be discretion left to the board to decide as who qualifies for the disbursements within the

framework of the law.


Mr Da Camara said that he was in agreement with Dr Baloyi on the issue of the  definition of the

phrase "political violence". He said that the phrase must be refined to avoid ambiguity.


The Chair asked members not to belabour the issue since the board has taken note of their



Ms Southgate said that unless the criteria is spelled out in the Act there was a danger that

people might introduce party politics in the whole qualification issue. Some may think that they

have been disqualified because they do not belong to a particular political party.


Pastor Nhlapo replied that there was always such a danger with discretionary powers. He said

that if the guidelines and criteria were to be incorporated in the main Act the process would be

rigid and therefore incapable of adjustment to suite the dynamics informing such an endeavour.


The Chair said that for purposes of transparency it was necessary to incorporate everything in

the Act.


Ms Southgate noted that the bill stipulates that victims should be paid within the space of three

months. She observed that in the past payment has been delayed for over one year and

wondered whether the board has put in place measures to overcome the difficulties experienced



Pastor Nhlapo replied that this issue was born out of the August meeting with the Committee

whereby members complained about  the delay of settling provision for disaster victims.


He said that the board is currently attempting to ensure that in a period of three months disaster

victims access provision. He noted that it is a big challenge to the board but that it was

committed to this time frame.


The meeting rose at 10:45 am for a break and deliberations were to continue thereafter [PMG

did not minute the remainder of the meeting].



Draft Bill on Social Relief Fund


[                                                ]                      Words in bold type in square brackets

indicate omissions from existing enactments.

_________________________                Words underlined with a solid line indicate

insertions in existing enactments.


To amend the Fund-raising Act, 1978, so as to insert certain definitions and to amend others; to consolidate the various funds under the Act into one fund; to establish a fund for the rendering of relief and assistance to certain persons and organizations; to provide for the repeal of certain relief funds; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

BE IT ENACTED by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, as follows:-

Substitution of heading to Chapter II of Act 107 of 1978 as substituted by section 1 of Act 115 of 1991

1.                   The following heading is hereby substituted for the heading to Chapter II of the Fund-raising Act, 1978 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act):


Amendment of section 15 of Act 107 of 1978, as amended by section 3 of Act 41 of 1980, section 2 of Act 115 of 1991 and section 1 of Act 43 of 1994

2.                   Section 15 of the principal Act is hereby amended-

(a)                 by the insertion before the definition of “disasterâ€? of the following definitions:

“' certain persons' means persons who suffer damage or loss caused by a disaster or persons who have psychosocial problems;


'Department' means the Department of Social Development in the national sphere of government;


'Director-General' means the Director-General of the Department;�;

(b)                 by the insertion before the definition of “Fundâ€? of the following definition:

“' event' means a disaster, an act of terrorism or political violence;�;


(c)                 by the deletion of the definition of “full-time memberâ€?;

(d)                 by the substitution for the definition of “Fundâ€? of the following definition:

“'Fund' means [a fund referred to in section 16] the Social Relief Fund established by section 16;�;

(e)                 by the insertion after the definition of “Fundâ€? of the following definitions:

“'Minister' means the Minister of Social Development in the national sphere of government;

'organisation' includes any body, group or association of persons, any institution, federation, society, movement, trust or fund, incorporated or unincorporated, and whether or not it has been established or registered in accordance with any law;

            'political violence' means the exercise of physical force for political purposes so

as to inflict injury of or cause damage to persons or property;�;

(f)                   by the insertion after the definition of “psychosocial problemsâ€? of the following definition:

“'social relief' means the provision of assistance including financial assistance, but excluding compensation,  to individuals and organisations within a period of three months from the date of the event referred to in section 18 in order to assist them for serious material damage or loss or distress which has occurred as a result of the said event;�;


(g)                 by the insertion after the definition of “social relief of distressâ€? of the following definitions:

“'terrorism' means the use of violence for political purposes and includes any use of violence for purposes of putting the public or any section of the public in fear;

'victim' means any person who has been killed, or has suffered injury as a result of political violence or terrorism committed against him or her, and includes the spouse or minor children of any such victim who died as a result of such violence or terrorism;�.

Substitution of section 16 of Act 107 of 1978, as substituted by section 1 of Act 82 of 1983 and section 3 of Act 115 of 1991

3.         The following section is hereby substituted for section 16 of the principal Act:

“Establishment of Social Relief Fund

16.  There is hereby established a fund to be known as the Social Relief Fund.�.

Substitution of section 17 of Act 107 of 1978

4.         The following section is hereby substituted for section 17 of the principal Act:

            “Management of Fund

            17.(1)  The Fund shall be managed by a Board appointed by the Minister.

(2)      The Board shall be a juristic person.

(3)       The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Minister, of whom-

(a)     one must be a representative from the office of the Minister, the Department or the Heads of Social Development;

(b)     one must be a representative from the Department of Provincial and Local Government; and

(c)     seven are persons who have knowledge or experience of social relief, disaster relief, terrorism or political violence.

(4)       In appointing members to the Board, the Minister must ensure that the Board represents a broad cross-section of the population of South Africa and comprises of persons who reflect South African society with special attention to race, gender, disability and geographical spread.

(5)       The members referred to in subsection (3)(c) must be nominated by the public.

(6)       For the purpose of nominations of members referred to in subsection (3)(c), the Minister must invite such nominations by notice in the Gazette, by publication in at least two national newspapers and, may invite such nominations through any other media.

(7)       The members referred to in subsection (3)(c) must be appointed only after the Parliamentary committees on Social Development of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces have made recommendations to the Minister regarding such appointment.

(8)       The Minister must by notice in the Gazette within 30 days after the appointment of such members publish the names of the members of the Board and the date of commencement of their period of office.â€?.

Insertion of sections 17A, 17B and 17C in Act 107 of 1978

5.         The following sections are hereby inserted after section 17 of the principal Act:

“Qualifications of members of Board, term of office, vacation of office, filling of vacancies and allowances and disbursements to members of Board

            17A. (1)  A person may not be appointed as a member of the Board if he or she-

(a)      is not permanently resident in the Republic;

(b)      has been convicted of a criminal offence, whether in the Republic or elsewhere, and was sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine, unless it has been established that such a person was granted amnesty in respect of an offence of which he or she was convicted and such an offence was politically motivated; and

(c)      has been disqualified under any law from practising his or her profession.

(2)       The members of the Board shall hold office for a period of three years with effect from the date of their appointment.

(3)       Members are at the expiry of their terms of office eligible for reappointment to not more than one consecutive term.

(4)       A member vacates his or her office if that member-

(a)       has been absent from more than three consecutive ordinary meetings of the Board without a written apology which must be submitted to the Secretary of the Board at least three days prior to the scheduled meeting;

(b)       is disqualified under any law from practising his or her profession;

(c)       submits his or her resignation in writing to the Minister; or

(d)       ceases to be permanently resident in the Republic.

(5)       If there is a vacancy on the Board the Minister may, despite the provisions of section 17(5), (6) and (7), after consultation with the Board, appoint a person who meets the criteria referred to in section 17(4), to fill the vacancy.

(6)       A member of the Board, excluding a member who is in the employ of the State, must be paid allowances and disbursements as may be determined by the Minister in consultation with the Minister of Finance.

Chairperson and vice-chairperson

17B (1)  Before the first meeting of a newly constituted Board the Minister must appoint a chairperson, and at that first meeting the members of the Board must elect from among themselves the vice-chairperson.

     (2) (a)  If the office of the chairperson or vice-chairperson becomes vacant, the Minister or the members of the Board, as the case may be, must, at the first meeting after such vacancy occurred, appoint a new chairperson or elect from among themselves a new vice-chairperson, as the case may be.

           (b)  The chairperson or vice-chairperson holds office for the unexpired

portion of the period of office of his or her predecessor.

     (3)  The chairperson or vice-chairperson of the Board may vacate his or her office without terminating his or her membership of the Board, in which case such a vacancy must be filled in terms of subsection (2)(a).


                 Meetings of Board


17C (1)  The Board must meet for the first time at a place determined by the Minister and thereafter at a time and place determined by the chairperson, or if he or she is absent, the vice-chairperson in consultation with the Director-General.

   (2) (a)  When the chairperson is absent or unable to perform his or her functions, the vice-chairperson must act as chairperson.

          (b)  If both the chairperson and vice-chairperson are absent from a meeting or unable to perform their functions, the members present must elect a person from among themselves to preside at that meeting.

   (3)  The Board must determine the procedure for calling meetings and the procedures to be followed at that meetings.

   (4)  The majority of the members of the Board constitute a quorum for a meeting of the Board.

                    (5)  The Board must hold at least three meetings each year.

   (6)   (a)  The Board may hold such special meetings as the Board may, from time to time, determine.

          (b)  The chairperson may at any time convene a special meeting of the Board, but must convene such special meeting at the written request of the Minister or of at least seven members of the Board.

   (7)  A decision or recommendation taken by the Board, or an action taken on authority of such decision or recommendation, is not invalid merely because-

(a)     of a casual vacancy in the Board; or

(b)     a person who was entitled to sit as a member of the Board did not sit when the decision was taken.â€?.


Substitution of section 18 of Act 107 of 1978, as amended by section 4 of Act 115 of 1991 and substituted by section 2 of Act 43 of 1994

6.                   The following section is hereby substituted for section 18 of the principal Act:

“Objects of Board
18.     The object of the Board of the Social Relief Fund shall be, with due regard to the financial position of the Fund and the requirements of each case-

(a)     to render to persons and organizations who or which suffer damage or loss caused by a disaster, such assistance as the Board may deem fair and reasonable;

(b)     to render such assistance as the Board may deem fair and reasonable to-

(i)                   the victims of any act of terrorism in respect of their medical treatment and rehabilitation; and

(ii)                 such victims and their dependants who suffer financial hardship or financial distress caused directly or indirectly by any act of terrorism; and

(c)     to make money from the Fund available to organizations that in the opinion of the Board are capable of rendering assistance to persons with psychosocial problems and of rendering such social relief of distress as the Board may deem fair and reasonable to members of communities that in the opinion of the Board are victims of political violence.â€?.


Substitution of section 19 of Act 107 of 1978
7.                   The following section is hereby substituted for section 19 of the principal Act:


“Committees of Board

19(1)  The Board may, in the prescribed manner and subject to the conditions the Board may determine, appoint, either from among its own members or otherwise, such committees as it deems necessary or expedient for the achievement of its objects or for the performance of its functions.

(2)  The Board may delegate any of its functions to any of its committees, but shall not be divested of any function so delegated and may amend or withdraw any decision taken by such a committee by virtue of such a delegation.

(3)       The functions of a committee must be determined by the Board, and the procedure at the meetings of a committee must be as prescribed.

(4)       If the Board appoints a committee, it must designate one of the members of such committee as the chairman thereof.â€?.


Substitution of sections 20 and 21 of Act 107 of 1978

8.         The following section is hereby substituted for sections 20 and 21 of the principal Act:


            “Functions of Board

20(1)  The Board may-


(a)    collect contributions for the achievement of its objects;

(b)    undertake such investigations into any matter relating to its objects as it may deem necessary;

(c)    purchase or otherwise acquire, hold, alienate or hypothecate any movable property and, with the consent of the Minister acting with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, any immovable property;

(d)    hire or let movable or immovable property; and

(e)    enter into any agreement relating to its objects on such terms and conditions as it may deem fit:

                 (2)    The Board may perform such functions as may be imposed upon it by this Act, and may exercise such other functions as may be necessary or expedient for or incidental to the achievement of its objects.�.

Substitution of section 22 of Act 107 of 1978
9.         The following section is hereby substituted for section 22 of the principal Act:

            “Finances of Board

22.(1)  The Fund shall consist of-

(a)       the contributions collected from the public by, for or on behalf of the Board;

(b)       any moneys vested in the Fund in terms of subsection (2);

(c)       any moneys appropriated by Parliament for the purposes of the Fund;

(d)       any amount of money received or acquired from any other source.

(2)    The funds generally known as-

(a)       the Disaster Relief Fund;

(b)       the State President's Fund

(c)       the Social Relief Fund;

(d)       the South African Defence Force Fund; and

(e)       the Refugee Relief Fund;

shall as from the commencement of this Act cease to exist, and all amounts credited to any such fund immediately before such commencement, shall as from such commencement vest in the Social Relief Fund, and as from such commencement all liabilities and rights existing as well as accruing, of the funds referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) shall devolve upon the Social Relief Fund.

(3)         The Board must apply the moneys of the Fund to the achievement of its objects and to the defrayal of the costs in connection with the performance of its functions.

(4)        The Board must deposit all the moneys received by it in an account which it must open with a banking institution registered in terms of the Banks Act, 1990 (Act No. 94 of 1990).

(5)         The Board must from time to time invest with the Public Investment Commissioners or in such other manner as the Minister may, with the concurrence of the Minister of Finance, determine, all moneys which are not required for immediate use or as a reasonable working balance.

(6)        The financial year of the Fund shall terminate on 31 March in each year.

(7)         The Board must keep the prescribed accounts, records and registers of all its financial transactions, and must furnish the Minister with the prescribed reports and financial statements.

(8)         The accounts, records, registers and financial statements of the Board must be audited by the Auditor-General.

(9)         The Director-General is the accounting officer of the Fund and he or she must keep proper records of all moneys received by the Fund and expended from the Fund;

(10)  The Director-General must-

(a)                    open such accounts as he or she deems necessary, into which he or she must pay the moneys contemplated in subsection (1) accruing to the Fund; and

(b)                    report to the Minister every six months on the activities and the balance of the Fund.

(11)  The Fund must be audited annually by the Auditor-General.â€?.


Repeal of section 23 of Act 107 of 1978

10.        Section 23 of the principal Act is hereby repealed.:

            Repeal of section 24 of Act 107 of 1978

11.        Section 24 of the principal Act is hereby repealed.

            Substitution of section 25 of Act 107 of 1978

12.        The following section is hereby substituted for section 25 of the principal Act:

            “Personnel and finances of Board

25.(1)(a)  The Director-General must, after consultation with the Board, designate officers or employees appointed in terms of the Public Service Act, 1994 (Proclamation No. 103 of 1994), for the proper performance by the Board of its duties, including the designation of a Secretary for the Board.

(b)  The personnel referred to in paragraph (a) are responsible to the Director-General and accountable to the Department.

                                 (c)  The chairperson is the accounting officer of the Board.

                     (d)  Subject to any law regulating access to information, the Department must provide the Board with such information the Board may require to fulfil its duties under this Act.

                (2)  Subject to any law governing the provision of services to the State, the Director-General may, at the request of the Board, enter into agreements with persons for the performance of specific duties or for the provision of specific services.

(3)  The expenses of the Board and committees of the Board are funded by the Department from money appropriated for that purpose by Parliament or received from other sources approved by the Minister.�.


            Substitution of section 26 of Act 107 of 1978

13.        The following section is hereby substituted for section 26 of the principal Act:

            “Declaration of certain events to be disasters

26.(1)  If at any time in the opinion of the [State] President it appears that serious material damage or loss or distress has occurred or is likely to occur as a result of a sudden or disastrous event in a particular area, whether in the Republic or elsewhere, and that the relief of the distress of the persons who are or will be affected thereby is likely to be supported by the public generally or by any particular section of the public, he or she may by proclamation in the Gazette declare such event for the purposes of this Act to be a disaster.

                (2)  The [State] President may at any time [in a like manner] withdraw or amend any proclamation referred to in subsection (1).�.

            Substitution of section 38 of Act 107 of 1978

14.        The following section is hereby substituted for section 38 of the principal Act:

            “Short title

38.  This Act [shall be] is called the [Fund-raising] Social Relief Fund Act, 1978, [and shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by the State President by proclamation in the Gazette].�.

            Short title

15.        This Act is called the Fund-raising Amendment Act, 2002.


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