Few new laws likely to be passed as polls near

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

then elec­tions will be top of the po­lit­i­cal agenda since al­though no of­fi­cial elec­tion date has been set, pun­dits think the elec­tion will take place in April or May.

The IFP’s chief whip, par­lia­men­tary vet­eran Koos van der Merwe, said the elec­tions were al­ready the fo­cus for all par­ties.

“Par­lia­ment is only sit­ting for a few more weeks this year and par­ties are al­ready de­voted to the elec­tion.

“I doubt any party will be con­cerned with leg­is­la­tion at this point,” he said.

On Thurs­day, Zuma an­nounced that he had signed the Gen­eral In­tel­li­gence Laws Amend­ment Act, the National Health Amend­ment Act, the Danger­ous Weapons Act, Preven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Tor- ture of Per­sons Act and the National En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment Laws Amend­ment Act into law.

Among the bills still be­fore Par­lia­ment is the con­tro­ver­sial Le­gal Prac­tice Bill, which aims to trans­form the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

The jus­tice com­mit­tee met ear­lier this week to de­lib­er­ate on the bill, which some MPs pre­vi­ously in­di­cated they would like to be com­pleted be­fore a new Par­lia­ment sits.

Last month, MP John Jef­frey ( since ap­pointed the deputy min­is­ter of jus­tice) told the com­mit­tee: “We have to fin­ish it, oth­er­wise all the work done on the bill and the pub­lic hear­ings will be a waste. If we are not go­ing to fin­ish it this year then we might as well stop work­ing on it.”

DA chief whip Watty Wat­son said that it was not prob­lem­atic for a bill to strad­dle two par­lia­ments.

“The National Coun­cil of Prov­inces (NCOP) must look at a bill from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive from that of the National Assem­bly, and the more in­di­vid­u­als that ap­ply their minds to a piece of leg­is­la­tion and its im­pact on so­ci­ety, the bet­ter.”

One bill that has al­ready strad­dled two par­lia­ments and is yet to be passed is the Foren­sic Pro­ce­dures Bill, more com­monly known as the DNA Bill.

Orig­i­nally in­tro­duced in 2009, only the sec­tion deal­ing with fin­ger­prints be­came law. The leg­is­la­tion, which will al­low for the es­tab­lish­ment of a DNA data­base to help po­lice solve crimes, was rein­tro­duced in Par­lia­ment in May this year. The po­lice port­fo­lio com­mit­tee met this week to dis­cuss it.

Vanessa Lynch of the DNA Pro­ject, the NGO push­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of the bill, said she was “ex­tremely happy” with the cur­rent progress of the bill and was

‘This bill should have been kicked out of Par­lia­ment al­ready’

“quite con­fi­dent” that it would be adopted in this term.

Cherith Sanger of the Sonke Gen­der Jus­tice Net­work said they were in­ter­ested in the Sex­ual Of­fences Amend­ment Bill, the Tra­di­tional Courts Bill and the Com­mis­sion for Gen­der Equal­ity Bill, all of which the or­gan­i­sa­tion had made sub­mis­sions on.

Sanger said their or­gan­i­sa­tion sup­ported the Sex­ual Of­fences Amend­ment Bill be­cause it pro­vided for the rein­tro­duc­tion of sex­ual of­fences courts.

But, she said, her or­gan­i­sa­tion had made sub­mis­sions around cer­tain is­sues such as train­ing, and had raised con­cerns about reg­u­la­tions in the bill not be­ing manda­tory.

“We will be very disap- pointed if they push this through with­out con­sid­er­ing our sub­mis­sion,” she said.

She said the Tra­di­tional Courts Bill which seeks to reg­u­late tra­di­tional lead­ers and courts, was highly prob­lem­atic from a gen­der and a hu­man­rights per­spec­tive.

De­spite pre­vi­ous spec­u­la­tion that the ANC in­tended with­draw­ing this bill, it re­mains on the list of bills be­fore the NCOP.

“This bill should have been kicked out of Par­lia­ment al­ready as far as we are con­cerned” Sanger said.

Also con­tentious is the Labour Re­la­tions Bill, which Par­lia­ment failed to pass last term be­cause there was no quo­rum in the National Assem­bly.

The DA walked out of the sit­ting, say­ing the bill, which calls for a ban on labour broking, was “bad”.

The party claims that such a law would re­sult in mas­sive job losses. Its walk­out ex­posed the ANC’s poor par­lia­men­tary at­ten­dance, as the rul­ing party could not muster the req­ui­site 201 votes. The bill is now listed for a sec­ond read­ing in the National Assem­bly.

On Thurs­day, the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion’s Elec­tion Amend­ment Bill was tabled in Par­lia­ment.

The bill makes pro­vi­sions for over­seas vot­ers and cer­tain cat­e­gories of pris­on­ers to vote in the elec­tion.

On the same day, the DA’s James Selfe said he would re­sub­mit his pri­vate mem­ber’s bill on elec­toral re­form in the new Par­lia­ment. He said the National Assem­bly’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on home af­fairs had raised con­cerns on the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of deal­ing with the bill be­fore the 2014 elec­tions.

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