Few new laws likely to be passed as polls near
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.