ACDP ‘hijacked’ paternity leave petition
The man who launched a campaign to have South Africa introduce 10 days of paternity leave says that the resulting private member’s bill is excellent, but that the accompanying memorandum leaves out crucial details and adds an unnecessary caveat about gay parents.
“It’s a really great, progressive bill,” says Hendri Terblanche, the Cape Town father who originally lodged a petition with Parliament to introduce paternity leave into labour law last year.
Terblanche made headlines with his petition at the time, but it took a year and a half for it to bear fruit as a private member’s bill, gazetted last week by African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) parliamentary whip Cheryllyn Dudley.
The bill proposes a new form of “parental” leave, which would in practice go to the parent of a baby that does not get either maternity leave or adoption leave.
While it fulfils the role of paternity leave, it would apply equally to gay couples, where one parent would get 10 days off and the other would get the adoption or maternity leave that already exists in law.
The memorandum attached to the bill adds a caveat that the ACDP is not in favour of gay couples adopting babies, but that the bill is drafted in line with the Constitution, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
“I didn’t like that comment,” says Terblanche. “There is no need for it. A child is a child and a parent is a parent.”
He also says that the memorandum leaves out all mention of the extensive research on the economic benefits of paternity leave that he provided MPs with.
“The ACDP basically hijacked it,” he told City Press.
The original petition was not sent to any political party, but to all MPs as individuals, he said.
Terblanche sent his petition to all MPs in June last year after the premature birth and subsequent hospitalisation of his own children. Because there is no legal entitlement to paternity leave, he could not be present when his family needed him.