Parliament’s unfinished business

There are a number of bills before Parliament and with just under three weeks to go before the fourth quarter of Parliament comes to an end, on December 7 2012, the prospect of reaching finality on some of the more contentious legislation has created a sense of unease in the corridors of power.

Notably, the Protection of State Information Bill [B 6B –10 (section 75)] has unleashed a storm of protest from a number of civil society formations, and earlier this year Cosatu appeared before the National Council of Provinces’ ad hoc committee to present its submission on the bill.

Cosatu argued that “the bill in its current form would make serious inroads into the upholding of the values of openness, transparency and accountability … worryingly, whether inadvertently or intentionally, it proposes to do this by entrenching authority through a security state”.

Cosatu called for amendments to the bill and reaffirmed its support “for the introduction of a public interest defence, which would be available especially for whistle-blowers and the media”.

With just a few weeks to go, the R2Know coalition has stepped up its campaign and called on Parliament to withdraw the controversial bill. There has been a lot of talk about amending it to accommodate public concerns, but with all the political back-pedalling, the final product is bound to leave a bitter taste among both proponents and opponents of the bill. Still under consideration is the equally infamous Traditional Courts Bill, and with more talks on the way for legislation to ban insults on the President, it would appear that our democratic gains are slowly being eroded as we move towards a “security state”.

For the Numsa parliamentary office, 2012 has been a productive year, but there is still some unfinished business, including:

• The Independent Systems and Market Operators Bill [B9-12];

• Electricity Distribution Industry (PC Energy);

• Energy Efficiency (PC Energy);

• The Traditional Courts Bill;

• The labour committee has been discussing changes to the Labour Relations Amendment Bill since the public hearings.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill is ready for adoption but has been postponed until the other Bills are ready. (PMG Monitor, October 2012).

• Calls for comment: Comments on the Employment Services Bill and Employment

• Equity Amendment Bill can be sent to until 14 December.(PMG Monitor, October 2012)

• Outstanding issues at NEDLAC:

• BBBEE Amendment Bill and Codes

• Special Economic Zones Bill

• Special Economic Zones Bill and Policy document

• Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Draft Bill

• WTO and International Trade issues

• Issues around Procurement/ Local Content and Designation of goods and services

Numsa is pleased to note that the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces have launched the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children by initiating the following debates on November 22 2012:

The National Assembly will hold a debate on the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Children under the theme: Elimination and Prevention of all Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls.

The National Council of Provinces will hold a debate on gender based violence under the theme: Waging a Concerted Fight Against Gender-Based Violence and Abuse.

[Source: Parliamentary Communication Services, November 22 2012]

Report on bills and other matters before committees of the National Assembly [See Parliamentary Monitoring Group Progress Report]