Ef­fect of laws on cit­i­zens will be scru­ti­nised

CityPress - - News - AN­DISIWE MAKINANA news@city­press.co.za

Land re­form and in­equal­ity will be the main fo­cus of a high-level panel that will scru­ti­nise the im­pact of South Africa’s laws on the lives of or­di­nary cit­i­zens.

Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete said this week that the panel, to be chaired by for­mer deputy pres­i­dent Kgalema Mot­lanthe, would have a year to scru­ti­nise the im­pact of leg­is­la­tion on the poor. The panel in­cludes for­mer au­di­tor-gen­eral Ter­ence Nombembe, aca­demic Olive Shisana, FirstRand founder Paul Har­ris and for­mer Re­serve Bank gov­er­nor Tito Mboweni.

Mbete said the work of the panel would re­view leg­is­la­tion, as­sess im­ple­men­ta­tion, iden­tify gaps and pro­pose ac­tion steps.

Deputy speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly Lech­esa Tsenoli told City Press the panel was in line with the de­ci­sion of the ANC’s 2012 con­fer­ence in Man­gaung to ac­cel­er­ate trans­for­ma­tion.

“You can al­most couch it in the lan­guage of the ANC’s res­o­lu­tions in Man­gaung that [ask] how you rad­i­cally deal with prob­lems whose mag­ni­tude to­day is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able and which have not yielded to tin­ker­ing,” said Tsenoli.

Tsenoli ex­plained that while the key fea­ture of most laws passed post-1994 was about re­peal­ing old leg­is­la­tion to be in line with the new Con­sti­tu­tion, some of that work had not yielded the de­sired re­sults.

Tsenoli said this meant strength­en­ing good prac­tice and “de­feat­ing old apartheid-in­spired and dis­crim­i­na­tory class divi­sions that re­in­force those prob­lems we are deal­ing with”.

“We can’t con­tinue 21 years down the line and you still have those lev­els of in­equal­ity and inat­ten­tion by the state ma­chin­ery as a whole to those kinds of fac­tors,” he added.

Mbete high­lighted in­equal­ity, adding that the peo­ple she spoke to “strongly be­lieve there is in­equal­ity in our so­ci­ety and, as South Africans, we did pass leg­is­la­tion in re­la­tion thereto”.

“We, here, are pre­oc­cu­pied with what hap­pens af­ter we have passed leg­is­la­tion. It’s all very well to pass laws and count how many you have passed.

“The point is: what is the im­pact on peo­ple’s lives? That is the is­sue we hope to have more in­sight into through the work that will be done by the panel.” Tsenoli em­pha­sised land. “Land, land re­form, land resti­tu­tion – that is a key part. It’s both political in ad­dress­ing what we of­ten re­fer to as ‘na­tional griev­ances’, the rea­son that led to the strug­gle in the first place in our coun­try.

“Land as an as­set is also a very po­tent eco­nomic means of pro­duc­tion. Who has it, who con­trols it, what gets done on it is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of that work ... and ac­cess to land; who has ju­ris­dic­tion over it?”

This is not the first in­de­pen­dent panel ap­pointed by Par­lia­ment. In 2006, Mbete, dur­ing her first stint as Speaker, ap­pointed a panel to con­duct an as­sess­ment of the Par­lia­ment of South Africa.

Among its rec­om­men­da­tions, the panel sug­gested that Par­lia­ment should re­view the im­pact of the leg­is­la­tion it passes, but that Par­lia­ment should be ca­pac­i­tated to con­duct such a re­view.

In 2012, then min­is­ter of jus­tice and con­sti­tu­tional de­vel­op­ment Jeff Radebe pub­lished a dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment on the re­view of the ju­di­ciary and an as­sess­ment of the im­pact of con­sti­tu­tional court judg­ments. Both are gath­er­ing dust.

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