ATC080619: Report Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill

Social Development

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development on the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill [B12 – 2008] (National Council of Provinces – sec 76), dated 19 June 2008:

The Portfolio Committee on Social Development having considered the subject of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill (National Council of Provinces – sec 76), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 76 Bill, reports the Bill[B12B - 2008].

History of the Bill

The Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill [B12-2008] sec 76(2) was transmitted by the National Assembly to the Committee on 17 March 2008.   

The Portfolio Committee took a decision to conduct public hearings and have briefings by national departments especially those mostly affected by the bill.  The Committee extended an invitation to all stakeholders and persons interested in making oral and written submissions to the Committee. 

Public hearings were held in Parliament on 13 and 14 May 2008.  Departmental briefings were also held in Parliament on 20 and 21 May 2008.

The following organizations presented their submissions to the Committee:

Drug Free Africa;
Middle-Village Community Representative Council(CRC);
AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA);
Eastern Cape Youth Development Board (ECYDB);
Embalini Children & Youth Centre;
South African National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence (SANCA);
Substance Misuse Advocacy Research and Training (SMART);
Hesketh King Treatment Centre;
Saltan Bahu Outpatient Treatment Centre;
Teen Challenge Treatment Centre;
Stepping Stones Treatment Centre; and
Toevlug Treatment Centre.

The following departments briefed the Committee:

South African Revenue Services (SARS);
Department of Correctional Services;
Department of Sports and Recreation;
Department of Home Affairs;
Department of Education;
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development;
National Youth Commission;
Department of Health;
South African Police Services;
Department of Provincial and Local Government; and
Department of Trade and Industry.

The Committee, having considered the input received from the above, decided effect certain amendments to the Bill, which, because of their substantial nature, necessitated it to present a redrafted Bill.

Amongst the key changes effected by the Committee on the Bill, was the complete redrafting of Chapter 2 of the Bill which deals with the “combating of substance abuse”.  The Committee was of the view that this Bill offers the most appropriate platform to state clearly the country’s overall strategy aimed at combating substance abuse, right at the outset, which is hinged upon three key aspects, namely, (a) supply, (b) demand, and (c) harm reduction.   

The Committee was further of the view that the Bill was tentative about the role of government as a whole to work in a collaborative, integrated and holistic manner in pursuit of the goal of combating substance abuse and that it was not appropriate to locate the overall responsibility in this regard in the Central Drug Authority (CDA), as opposed to the Executing Authorities and their respective Departments, themselves.

In this regard, the Committee rejected the call of the CDA to be accorded the status of legal autonomy as a juristic person to enhance its authority, as this would not in itself, impact on the fundamental reality that it is there to perform a coordinating and advisory, as opposed to an executing function.

In the second instance, the Committee was of the view that certain key concepts used in the Bill were not properly defined or explained and led, therefore, to uncertainty and fusion as to the underlying objectives or intentions in the application or use of those concepts.

The Bill also introduced new interventions and a new regulatory framework, without providing sufficient details, in relation to areas such as “community-based services”.  The committed instructed that these areas be amplified to provide a clear indication as to the intention.

Finally, the Committee was dissatisfied with the quality of the Bill as introduced, in relation to the inadequate manner in which it sought to address the fundamental challenge of providing for an integrated and holistic response to the challenge of combating substance abuse, given the increasing significance and complexity of dealing with this challenge.  It was of the view, therefore, that more work could have been done in this regard, before the Bill was presented to Parliament and that more work will still need to be done, after the passage of this Bill, to integrate various laws, government policies and strategies for combating substance abuse.



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