National Council of Provinces - 21 August 2008



The Council met at 14:05.

The House Chairperson (Mrs M N Oliphant) took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.


                          NOTICE OF MOTION

Mr M A MZIZI: Chairperson, I give notice that on the next sitting day of the House I shall move on behalf of the IFP:

That the Council –

 1) notes with alarm that since the tragic incident where a grade 12
    schoolboy from Nic Diederichs Technical High School in Krugersdorp
    attacked and killed a fellow pupil, three more incidents of
    violence have been reported in our schools;

(2) further notes that violence in our schools has been occurring for some time now and is out of control;

(3) realises that drastic measures need to be taken to protect our children while they are in school and to ensure that they concentrate on learning; and

(4) calls on all relevant authorities and stakeholders to collectively work together and speedily implement security and other measures that will provide some sort of protection and stop pupils from bringing weapons to school.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council –

  1) notes that the month of August represents a number of key political
     activities and links in a long chain of  events  that  crystallised
     the fight against apartheid oppression in South Africa;

  2) also notes that central to these events was a major strike in  1946
     by over 100 000 African mineworkers on the Rand Goldfields who took
     on  the  mighty  apartheid  forces  to  protest  against  apartheid
     settlement and  the  blatant  violation  of  their  rights  by  the
     apartheid government;

  3) further notes that police,  sanctioned  by  the  Smuts  government,
     opened fire and hundreds of these workers were killed and injured;

  4)  acknowledges  that  the  month  of  August  also  represents   the
     crystallisation of the fight  against  gender  oppression  and  the
     discrimination  against  women  in  South  Africa,  when  the  late
     President of the ANC Women’s  League,  Comrade  Lilian  Ngoyi,  and
     cadres such as Comrade Helen Joseph, Comrade  Sophia  Williams  and
     Comrade Rahima Moosa led a women’s march to Pretoria  on  9  August
     1956, protesting against  the  pass  laws  and  chanting  “Wathint’
     abafazi, wathint’ imbokodo’;

  5) recognises that it was also in this month that a letter bomb killed
     revolutionary and anti-apartheid activist Comrade Ruth First in her
     Maputo office; and

  6) takes this opportunity to salute and pay tribute to these
     revolutionary cadres of our movement for the sacrifices to stand in
     the frontline trenches of the fight for freedom in our country.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


                         (Draft Resolution)

Mr M A SULLIMAN: Chair, I move without notice:

That the Council -

 1) notes the killing of 16-year-old Jacques Pretorius at the hands  of
    18-year-old Morné Harmse,  both  learners  at  the  Nic  Diederichs
    Technical High School in Krugersdorp on 18 August 2008;

 2) further notes  the  unnecessary  injuries  sustained  by  two  non-
    lecturing staff members of  the  same  school,  Samson  Mamela  and
    Joseph Kodeseng;

 3) rejects recent comments by some opposition parties  and  others  to
    look for excuses for why this incident happened, placing  blame  on
    circumstances, the Education department and society;
 4) condemns this senseless killing in the same way it did when  Andrew
    Babeile stabbed fellow  Vryburg  High  School  learner  Christoffel
    Erasmus in the neck with a pair of scissors in February 1999; and

 5) expresses its condolences to the bereaved family and friends of the
    late Jacques Pretorius as well as  the  Krugersdorp  community  and
    sends well wishes to Samson Mamela and Joseph Kodeseng for a speedy

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


                         (Draft Resolution)

Ms B N DLULANE: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council -

   1) notes that it is the birthday today of the Minister of Trade  and
      Industry, the hon Mr M M B Mpahlwa, who was  born  on  21  August
      1960 at Edutywa in the Eastern Cape province; and

   2) takes this opportunity to wish the Minister a happy birthday  and
      thank him for sharing his special day with us.

May you have a wonderful birthday and many more to come!

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE COUNCIL: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That item one under “Further Business” on the Order Paper of today, 21 August 2008, namely ‘Consideration of Report of Mediation Committee on Housing Development Agency Bill [B 1F – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 76(1)) (Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, 20 August 2008, p 1566) be moved above the line to be Order Number 7.

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


                         (Draft Resolution) Kgoshi M L MOKOENA: Modulasetulo, ke tliša tšhišinyo ntle le tsebišo:

Gore Khansele –

(1) e bontšhe manyami le go tshwenyega ka se se dirilwego ke Kgoro ya Ditirelo tša Tshokollo - legoro la go šoma ka tša parole;

(2) e lemoge gore lehono re maketše gore Mark Scott-Crossley yo a ilego a bonwa molato o tee le Mathebula - molato wo ba o dirilego ka letšatši le tee gomme ba dira bošula go lapa la ga Chisale - o a tšwa kgolegong ge ke bolela gona bjale;

 3) e lemoge gape gore Mathebula, yo a swerwego le Mark Scott-Crossley
    ka molato wa go swana, o sa dutše kgolegong gomme o sa goga le gona
    bjale - ga go bolelwe selo ka ga yena;

(4) e bontšhe go tshwenyega gore ke ka lebaka la eng yo wo mošweu yena a lokollwa kgolegong efela yo moso yena a tlogetšwe kgolegong eupša ba golegilwe bakeng sa molato wa go swana;

(5) e lebelele gore na go tlile bjang gore kgoro e fihlelele sephetho se; le gore

(6) e lemoge gore molaetša wo o swanetše go ya go Kgoro ya Ditirelo tša Tshokollo gore e lebelele gore ke ka lebaka la eng ba arogantše batho ba babedi ba. (Translation of Sepedi draft resolution follows.)

[Kgoshi M L MOKOENA: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council notes –

 1) with sadness the result of what has been done by the Parole Board
    of the Department of Correctional Services;

 2) with surprise that Mark Scott-Crossley, who has been found guilty
    for the same offence as Mathebula – committed on the same day
    against the family of Chisale – is being released today as I speak;

 3) that Mathebula, however, is still in prison for the same offence -
    he is still serving his sentence – and nothing is being said about

 4) with concern that the white one is being released on the basis of
    being white while the black one is left in prison for the same

 5) with concern how the department has arrived at this decision; and

(6) that a message should be sent to the department to investigate the reason why they have separated the two.]

As there was an objection, motion without notice became notice of motion.


                         (Draft Resolution)

Mnu S SHICEKA: Sihlalo, ngiphakama ngaphandle kwezasizo:

Ukuthi uMkhandlu –

  1) ubonisa ukuzigqaja nenjabulo yokuthi omunye wethu, uSihlalo  wethu,
     uMama u-Mildred Oliphant  wakhethwa  waba  usiKhwama  enhlangwaneni
     kaKhongolose yomama KwaZulu-Natali ...


     ... uyakujabulela futhi ukuthi kuthe ngayo  leyo  nyanga  wakhethwa
     futhi ukuba abe sesigungwini esikhulu khona  laphaya  esifundazweni

  2) wethemba  ukuthi  lokhu  kukhethelwa  kulezi  zikhundla  kuzokwenza
     ukuthi  umzabalazo  nomkhankaso  womama   uqhubeke   uye   phambili
     ngamandla amakhulu nokushesha;

  3)  umfisela  unwele  olude  nokusebenza  okuhle  emisebenzini   yakhe
     abhekene nayo nezikhundla azitholile;

  4) lokhu kukhombisa ukuthi uMkhandlu Kazwelonke  Wezifundazwe  esikuwo
     unamandla ngoba ukhiqiza abaholi. (Translation of isiZulu draft resolution follows.)

[Mr S SHICEKA: Chairperson, I move without notice:

That the Council –

  1) notes with a sense of pride and joy that the House Chairperson
     Mildred Oliphant has been elected as treasurer of the ANC Women’s
     League in KwaZulu-Natal ...


     ... and, in the same month, she was elected as member of the ANC
     Executive Committee in the KwaZulu-Natal province;

  2) believes that her appointment to these positions will make women’s
     struggles and campaigns move forward with vigour and expedience;

  3) wishes her success in her new responsibilities; and

  4) feels that this shows that the NCOP is powerful because it produces
     capable leaders.]

Motion agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

                      CONSUMER PROTECTION BILL

            (Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)

THE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mrs M N Oliphant): Before I call the hon Minister, I would firstly like to welcome him and the officials from his department. I further want to wish him a happy birthday. I believe he will provide a cake for the NCOP to enjoy after this session. Hon Minister, we wish you a long life. We know, of course, that if you are here with us, everything will go well.

Hon Minister, before you start, I also want to welcome the teachers and learners of the Cape Academy of Mathematics, Science and Technology who are in the gallery. You are welcome. [Applause.]

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Thank you very much, Chair and members of the NCOP, for your birthday wishes. [Interjections.] I will provide a cake if you adopt this Bill. [Laughter.]

Chairperson and hon members, the purpose of the Consumer Protection Bill that is being debated today is to promote and advance the social and economic welfare of consumers in South Africa. The Bill makes provision for a comprehensive and overarching consumer law of general application that will regulate interaction between businesses and consumers in the South African market.

The new Bill replaces, in a new and simplified manner, existing provisions from Acts including the Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Act of 1988, the Trade Practices Act of 1976, the Sales and Service Matters Act of 1964, the Price Control Act of 1964 and section 12 to 13 and section 16 to 17 of the Merchandise Marks Act of 1941. It also introduces new and beneficial measures for the protection of consumers. In particular, the proposed Bill will give consumers basic rights by doing the following: Prohibiting certain conduct encoding common law principles; providing for the establishment of effective redress mechanisms for consumers; recognising and supporting the role of consumer NGOs; and promoting customer responsiveness in the public and private sectors. It further expands the mandate of the Office of Consumer Protection by converting it into a statutory body named the National Consumer Commission.

In 2003, the Department of Trade and Industry embarked on an extensive evaluation of the regulatory environment and institutions governing consumer protection in South Africa. Results from a consumer survey and an audit of consumer protection measures in South Africa reveal that the regulatory framework for consumer protection is outdated and fragmented, resulting in the prevalence of consumer abuses and very limited access to redress for rural and low-income consumers. Some of the abuses identified include unfair contract terms, misleading and fraudulent advertising, nonhonouring of guarantees, abuse of personal information and nondisclosure of terms and conditions and poor product quality. Approximately 85% of consumers were found not to be aware of their rights and the mechanisms they could use to obtain redress. In instances where consumers lodged complaints with suppliers, almost 50% of their problems were not resolved or attended to. A majority of sector laws were found to focus on prudential regulation with market conduct either addressed in a limited manner or completely left to self-regulation, as is the case in the banking sector.

The new Bill addressed these challenges by adopting a rights-based approach aimed at asserting consumer rights when transacting with suppliers. This approach is internationally recognised, and it is in line with the United Nations’ adopted consumer rights. These rights include the following: The right to disclosure of information; the consumer’s right to choose; the right to product safety; the right to fair and reasonable terms and conditions; the right to fair value and quality; the right to privacy; the right to fair and responsible marketing; and the right to consumer education and redress.

The Bill backs up these rights by giving consumers the right to receive documents that are written in plain and understandable language that prohibits unfair contract terms and enhances consumer choice by requiring disclosure and information with regard to prices, contract terms, product quality, safety, guarantees and warranties.

Advertising, marketing and promotions have to adhere to certain standards, including that they should not be misleading, fraudulent or misrepresent any facts to the consumer about the benefits of a particular product, service or scheme. In addition, the Bill provides for a system of product liability where any producer, distributor or supplier will be liable for any damage in the form of death, injury, loss or damage to property and economic loss to the consumer or third party. The Bill contains a general prohibition against producing or distributing unsafe goods and knowingly supplying them to consumers. To ensure the safety of consumers, manufacturers and suppliers are under obligation to investigate and recall defective products. The National Consumer Commission is also given powers to investigate and recall products if manufacturers and suppliers do not take the required steps.

The Bill promotes consumer activism. The department believes that having informed and active consumers will enhance market and price competition. The Bill proposes a partnership between government and civil society. Such a partnership recognises the need to build the capacity of the consumer non- profit sector and equip it to provide face-to-face services such as legal advice, counselling and mediation. To realise this vision, government needs to recognise consumer non-profit organisations in law. The Bill provides for the accreditation of consumer protection groups and possible financial support for activities such as consumer advice, education, publications, research and alternative dispute resolution through mediation or conciliation.

The Bill aims to make redress accessible and protect consumers from being victimised if they act to enforce their rights. Clause 69 of the Bill outlines the available avenues of redress, including courts, alternative dispute resolution and complaints to the National Consumer Commission. If a complaint arises in an industry in which a statutory ombud scheme is in place, the consumer must pursue a resolution through that scheme before making a complaint to the National Consumer Commission. An ombud, consumer court or provincial authority that has resolved the complaint may record the agreement as an order, which must then be confirmed as a consent order by the National Consumer Tribunal or the courts. If a complaint is made to the commission, the commission investigate and may make a referral to the National Consumer Tribunal, which may resolve the matter by making certain orders as contemplated in clause 5.

In order to afford consumers improved redress, the Bill decriminalises certain conduct and subjects it to administrative sanctions. This is important because the research conducted indicated that most consumers would prefer immediate remedies like refunds and replacements rather than criminal sanctions being imposed on the supplier. However, the Bill does provide for serious misconduct to be dealt with criminally and therefore subject to normal court procedures. Clause 82 of the Bill establishes a scheme for the development of industry codes of conduct relating to consumer matters, and provides for them to receive the force of law being prescribed by the Minister.

The Bill recognises that consumer protection is a matter that falls under the functional area of concurrent jurisdiction between provincial and national government in terms of Schedule 4 of the Constitution. To this end, the Bill provides for the Minister to consult members of the provincial executive councils responsible for consumer affairs with respect to the following: Co-ordination and harmonisation of the functions of the National Consumer Commission and the provincial consumer protection authorities; facilitation of settlement of any dispute between the National Consumer Commission and any provincial consumer protection authority; and determination of steps to be taken to ensure the performance of a particular function by a provincial consumer protection authority in the case where no provincial consumer protection authority has been established or in the case where the Minister has concluded that the existing provincial consumer protection authority is unable to perform that function effectively.

The Bill further sets out matters that provincial consumer protection authorities have jurisdiction over in respect of activities occurring or applications by persons carrying on business exclusively within their provinces, including the following: The issuing, on behalf of the National Consumer Commission, of compliance notices; facilitation of mediation and conciliation of disputes arising in terms of this Act; and referral of unresolved disputes to provincial consumer courts. The provincial consumer protection authorities may also request the National Consumer Commission to initiate a complaint in respect of any apparent prohibited conduct or offence in terms of this Act.

The Bill provides for the establishment of the National Consumer Commission which will absorb the current capacity that exists within the Department of Trade and Industry in the Office of Consumer Protection. The National Consumer Commission will be made a statutory body with its mandate to proactively identify, investigate and prosecute contraventions of the consumer law before the National Consumer Tribunal. It will also implement national awareness and education programmes.

It is important to note that the consumer tribunal will be a shared authority between the National Consumer Commission and the National Credit Regulator. Provision has already been made for the establishment of the consumer tribunal in terms of the National Credit Act. Therefore, the department will not be establishing two separate tribunals.

The role of the courts will be to adjudicate all matters that relate to alleged offences in terms of the Consumer Protection Act and to issue declaratory and consent orders, as well as to adjudicate in all contractual matters. The decisions of the tribunal can be appealed against or reviewed by the High Court.

In conclusion, consumers drive competitiveness and economic growth. Well- informed consumers stimulate innovation, better quality products and service and competitive prices. Fair trade is dependent on a sound consumer protection regime, ethical business conduct and compliance, and a vibrant civil society. Government seeks, through this Bill, to achieve this triangle of co-operation. The Consumer Protection Bill seeks to create and promote an economic environment that supports and strengthens a culture of consumer rights and responsibilities whilst, through the measures adopted herein, it seeks to promote a fair, efficient and transparent marketplace for consumers and business. This aspect complements the principles of competition policy, which is also concerned with promoting efficiency and competitiveness of our markets.

I would like to express my thanks to the Select Committee on Economic and Foreign Affairs who helped us to steer the legislation to this point and for their invaluable contributions. Thanks go to my provincial colleagues and their officials for their assistance and inputs. My thanks also go to the team from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Office of Consumer Protection for their hard work. These officials have actually done an incredible amount of hard work over the last few months because there are a number of pieces of legislation that are in front of both the NCOP and the National Assembly. So, they worked incredibly hard, and I would like to thank them today for their dedication and hard work.

I should also give special thanks to many in the industry and in various social groups that went out of their way to ensure that we addressed economic needs and reality whilst ensuring social responsibility.

I commend the Bill to the Chamber. Thank you very much.

Mr J M SIBIYA: Comrade Chair, perhaps before I start, let me indicate that my initials are not “B J” as written. I have no problem if they are indicated as either “M J” or “J M”. I think “B J” is hon Tolo. Are you not “B J”? [Interjections.] Thank you.

Comrade Chairperson, hon Minister, departmental officials, colleagues, comrades, ladies and gentlemen, during its 52nd national conference, the ANC adopted resolutions on the adverse impact of advertising on society affecting especially the youth and children. In this regard, the ANC resolved that -

… measures be instituted to protect and safeguard children and youth against negative effect of harmful advertising. Those measures have to also ensure that advertising that continues to entrench gender stereotypes and comodification of women is curbed.

Issues of advertising and promotion that lead to the abuse of consumer rights are not merely commercial, but also ideological. The main pillar of consumer exploitation through advertising is the culture and ideology of consumerism. Therefore, issues of consumer protection are also about the battle of ideas in society. In this regard, the ANC argued that –

… the battle of ideas must be conducted in deeds and not only in theory, and these deeds must find practical expression through the ANC structures.

This Bill is the manifestation of a battle of ideas and requires to be understood in that context because it goes against the accumulation logic of capital, and as such will be faced with enormous offensive attacks from bourgeois intellectuals. This is where the ANC needs to be unwavering in invoking its resolution that calls for a vigorous communication of its outlook and values such as a developmental state, collective rights, values of caring and community solidarity, ubuntu, nonsexism, etc, against the media’s ideological outlook of neoliberalism, a weak and passive state, and an overemphasis on individual rights, market fundamentalism, etc.

Consumer protection issues have long been on the ANC agenda. For instance, in the Reconstruction and Development Programme, RDP, the ANC called for legislation to be rapidly developed to address consumer protection. This Bill has to ensure, as some of its objectives, that it establishes a legal framework for the achievement and maintenance of a consumer market that is fair, accessible, efficient, sustainable and responsible to the benefit of consumers generally. It seeks to reduce any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by the following consumers: Those who are low-income persons or persons comprising low-income communities; who live in remote, isolated or low-density population areas or communities; who are minors, seniors or other similarly vulnerable consumers; or whose ability to read and comprehend any advertisement, agreement, mark, instruction, warning or notice is limited by reason of low literacy, vision impairment or limited fluency in the language in which it is advertised.

Other critical aspects of the Bill relate to the promotion of fair business practices, the protection of consumers from unconscionable, unfair, unreasonable, unjust or otherwise improper trade practices, as well as deceptive, misleading, unfair and fraudulent conduct. The Consumer Protection Bill also serves another purpose of improving consumer awareness and information and encouraging responsible and informed consumer choice, while promoting consumer confidence and empowerment and the development of a culture of consumer responsibility through individual and group education, vigilance, advocacy and activism.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is the belief of our committee that a Bill like this, when passed into law, will enable most of our people, especially the rural masses who are not as yet active participants in transactions. Usually they buy what they find available in the market without the necessary background information for themselves to be able to make informed choices. In this sense, we also believe, as a committee, that certain practices in business, which do not enable consumers to be what they are supposed to be, will be limited, curbed or even prevented. If they happen to take place, they will be followed up on until successful conclusion.

Let me give you an example. I once gave this example when we were in discussions with the department. I usually shop at Discom – don’t tell them, please. They are down here. One day I went there – I hope they are not around. I was looking for a perfumed petroleum jelly for my son – he likes it so much. When I went to the shelves, I found that it was priced at R13,99. So, I checked how much I had and I realised I didn’t have enough money. Nonetheless, I thought I could cut out some items so that my son could be happy. When I went to the teller, the item turned out to be R11,99 after it was scanned. Can you imagine that? So, I happened to save R2 indirectly. What this then means is that if it had been the other way round, I would have definitely been in trouble. Perhaps, in this case, it was one of those things that contributed to a positive saving on my part. Perhaps if this Bill becomes law, some of these things might be excluded – I don’t know. But this is one of the experiences I once had.

On another occasion, I went to Clicks - don’t tell them, please. [Interjections.] I was looking for a big soup mug – the big one. I moved around and found it. It was R10. But when I went to the teller, it turned out to be R8,50. These are some of the things which, in this context, tend to work a little bit to the advantage of those of us who do not have enough in our pockets. However, it does happen the other way round. You may find that it is written on the shelves that an item costs R8, but when you go to the tellers you find that it is R10, R11, etc. So, hon Minister, these are some of the things we feel need to be put right.

One other important aspect of the Consumer Protection Bill is that it repeals and replaces laws under the existing regulatory framework such as the Consumer Affairs (Unfair Business Practices) Act of 1988, Trade Practices Act of 1976, etc. In this way, we believe that the repealing of these pieces of legislation and the replacing of some parts of other legislation of the same kind will help streamline not only the pieces of legislation themselves, but also the processes and procedures in dealing with all those that might come up as malpractices in business. This will make it easy, at least, for our people to have an approach that will enable them to access all institutions, unlike now. You find that you go to one institution, and the matter is taken up somewhere else. Therefore, then, you have to go to the next institution. This happens until you no longer know where else to go and what it is that may come out at the ultimate end.

As a committee, we have satisfied ourselves that the Bill has laid down proper procedures, processes and mechanisms which enable us as a country to curb, prevent or even combat any business malpractices that may come about. This, we believe, will strengthen the hands of our people, especially the rural masses. We would be very pleased if the hon Minister, in his concluding remarks for the debate, could give a general outline as to how he sees the education campaign aimed at our people concerning this Bill unfolding, as well as the role of both provinces and municipalities so that we are able to understand this as we talk. When the time comes for the regulatory mechanisms to be put in place, this would have at least given us a chance to make more insight into it and be able to contribute greatly.

The Select Committee on Economic and Foreign Affairs supports the Bill unreservedly and urges this hon House to do the same. Thank you, Comrade Chair. [Applause.]

Ms S S CHEN: Chairperson, hon Minister, all my hon colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. The DA welcomes and fully supports this Bill. I thank the team of the Department of Trade and Industry for putting so much effort into this major achievement.

Although the Bill does not cover everything for all consumers, it is nevertheless important in promoting and advancing the social and economic welfare of consumers in South Africa. The Bill creates a fair, efficient and transparent marketplace for consumers and businesses by establishing a legal framework within which to provide a consistent, predictable and effective regulatory environment that fosters consumer confidence and promotes better customer service in the public and private sector.

Various developments over the past few years indicated that consumer protection legislation required an overview as, currently, there are neither general laws that protect consumers’ most basic rights to information, confidentiality, disclosure, fairness and transparency nor laws that address the challenges of discriminatory and unfair market practice, as well as proliferation of low-quality and unsafe products. The existing provisions relating to the protection of consumers in our country are fragmented and outdated.

With this comprehensive consumer protection legislation being formulated and implemented, and therefore creating the necessary infrastructure to regulate the market for consumer goods and services, it will definitely strengthen our enforcement systems. However, my concern is that since we give the commission the power to standardise and simplify in the identified categories, is this realistic in terms of the practical challenges that need to be addressed, such as how to set up a fair standard? For who is this fair - the supplier or the consumer? How do we ensure that information is provided to the consumer in plain and understandable language, especially since we have 11 official languages?

Another concern relates to the fact that while we encourage consumers to approach the commission for protection of their rights at all times, does the National Consumer Tribunal have enough capacity to handle all cases? Is there a system in place to avoid corruption and uphold all fairness? To uphold the rights and obligations of consumers, it is equally important to maintain a balance.

As the National Consumer Commission carries all important tasks like education, enforcement, market surveillance and co-ordination, it is important for the commission to be aware that the full implementation of the Bill will require informed consumers. The commission should be tasked with the responsibility of empowering consumers on the contents of the Bill, especially in our rural areas. We need to see a comprehensive education campaign that will inform the public of this Bill.

In our recent select committee meeting, DTI expressed full confidence that the Bill would be effectively implemented, even at local government level. They also indicated that there is a system of checks and balances in place to monitor DTI inspectors, as well as an intention to review the Bill two years after implementation. The DA looks forward to receiving updated reports in the near future and to working together with DTI to ensure that this Bill truly benefits all stakeholders.

The DA supports the Bill. Thank you. [Applause.]

Ms M P THEMBA: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, I feel very happy today to stand at this podium in this House and in this Women’s Month where many things are really happening. This House is producing a lot of leaders. We really feel great.

The overarching purpose of the Consumer Protection Bill is to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of the consumer. This is a topic that invokes emotions because those who have no bargaining power equal to that of suppliers had raw deals with nowhere to go. Even if they had remedies, those remedies came at a very expensive price. They would rather not pursue them because the cost of doing so would exceed the purchase price.

The relationship between a consumer and a supplier is skewed. Naturally, the power of bargaining between the two is unequal. To say that a consumer therefore needs more protection than a supplier would be to overemphasise the obvious. It is within this context that this law should be viewed.

The protection of a consumer will, however, not be complete unless the institutions created by law have the powers to effectively enforce the rights of the consumer. This legislation seeks to remove barriers to the enforcement of consumer rights, in particular discrimination. Consumers must be free to assert their rights without any fear of prejudice.

The fact that clause 68 of the Bill seeks to prohibit the supplier from discriminating, penalising or prejudicing the consumer in any manner merely because the consumer has exercised a right in terms of the law should be welcomed. This reinforces the fact that equality lies at the heart of our Constitution. It permeates all the laws of our country.

It is encouraging that the Bill seeks to simplify the processes of enforcing consumer rights. In terms of clause 69, a consumer or any person with sufficient interest on the matter may refer a dispute to the National Consumer Tribunal or an industry ombud or if the supplier is not subject to an industry ombud, then to a consumer court. It further seeks to ensure that disputes between a consumer and a supplier are resolved as expeditiously and as cheaply as possible. These processes should not be frustrated by bureaucratic red tape. The forms prescribed for the filing of disputes should therefore not be unnecessarily complicated with legal jargon. They should be written in a language understood by consumers.

The fusion between the National Credit Act and this legislation is an indication that there is a concerted effort by the ANC government to protect the poorest of the poor. The consumer has, for a period of time, been subjected to exploitation and manipulation by suppliers whose only goal is to make profit.

At the confluence of these two pieces of legislation lies the National Consumer Commission. The commission may, of its own accord, initiate an investigation on allegations of conduct inconsistent with this legislation. The commission must use these powers unsparingly. It should not be afraid to evoke these powers merely because it will upset the powerful narrow interests of suppliers.

Where the commission fails, the Minister must direct the commission to initiate an investigation. We, as people responsible for oversight, should ensure that the Minister exercises these powers effectively. The rights provided for in this legislation should not be reserved for those who may read and run. They must be accessible to all consumers irrespective of the level of education or the amount of money that a consumer possesses. To this end, the institution responsible for enforcing the rights of consumers must ensure that consumers are informed about their rights and the recourse they have in cases of disputes with suppliers.

Although the commission has no obligation to facilitate or support consumer advice and education carried out by a consumer protection group, it should be encouraged to do so. An informed consumer will be able to make better economic choices. It is plausible that the Bill seeks to ensure that suppliers trade in their registered names. This will go a long way to ensure that the consumer enters into a transaction with the supplier that he or she intends to contract.

Uma sengivala … [In conclusion, …]

… le nna ke batla gore ke eleletse motlotlegi masego a letsatsi la matsalo ke re ntate o gole o lekane le tlou. Rona re le ba mokgatlho re tshegetsa Molaotlhomo mme re kopa gore Ntlo e le yona e dire jalo. Re a leboga. (Translation of Setswana paragraph follows.)

[May I also take this opportunity to wish the hon member a happy birthday and many happy returns of the day. Our party supports the Bill and calls on this House to do the same. Thank you.]

Mr W M DOUGLAS: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, as a member of the Western Cape delegation, I want to formally welcome the MEC hon Strachan on his first visit to our House. You are welcome.

The ACDP feels very strongly about this Bill. Though slavery has been abolished in South Africa for many years now and the Slave Lodge next to Parliament is now a museum, our people still find themselves enslaved not under physical chains and shackles, but under mental dependence on credit and debt. Our people are enslaved by debt which causes them to use their labour to service contracts thrust upon them by unscrupulous businessmen without having fully understood what they were getting into. The aim of the Consumer Protection Bill is to protect ordinary South Africans from unscrupulous credit providers and businesses. It endeavours to promote a rational and consistent framework for the regulation of consumer business interaction.

The Bill is portrayed as a bill of rights for consumers. One of the basic consumer rights which the Bill seeks to defend is the right to honest dealing and fair agreements. To achieve this goal, the Bill contains widespread provisions on the so-called “exemptions from liability and fine print”.

Also a key concern addressed by this multifaceted and extensive Bill is the issue of plain language. This Bill states that all agreements for consumers must be in plain language. Thus, most, if not all South African companies, must watch what they say to their consumers and the way they say it. Companies ought to communicate with their customers in a way that is fair and easy to understand. Furthermore, all South Africans will very soon have the luxury of transacting with more confidence knowing that this new law will protect their consumer rights for everything, excluding short-term and long-term insurance.

On another note, the ACDP is concerned about one issue - the removal of a clause regarding the labelling of food containing Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs. The ACDP would like to see this clause reinstated. But in spite of this, the ACDP does support this Bill, believes that it is very good and believes that this Bill is going to benefit South Africans at grass roots level. I believe that South Africans, on a day to day basis, have been abused by businesses and that this Bill will protect them.

The ACDP supports this Bill.

Ms A N T MCHUNU: Chairperson, hon Minister and hon members, consideration of the Consumer Protection Bill and of the Report of the Select Committee on Economic and Foreign Affairs thereon, according to the ATC report of 12 August 2008, bears the core of this debate.

The IFP concurs with the need for the Bill to develop protective legislation for South Africans. This legislation will have to take up issues stated in the Bill as follows: Discriminatory and unfair market practices; proliferation of low-quality and unsafe products; lack of awareness of rights; limited redress; inadequate protection for consumers; and weak enforcement capacity. On the side of people themselves, this legislation has to take up the following: Lack of pride and self-trust, lack of innovation, lack of communal spirit or lack of co-operatives with integrity that produce genuine products, either for local or export market; and lack of love for a country if it produces substandard products which are either unhealthy or of poor quality.

To protect South Africans from market exploitation, emphasis has to be on production training for self-sufficiency. Thus, low-income groups, rural and poor people, minors, seniors or other vulnerable groups and the illiterate will protect themselves against consumerism piracy. For larger businesses or markets, group screening of products and sharing of information will assist targeted consumers. So, people should go together to have a look at what they are actually buying. An example at hand that needs protection is the pensioners and grant recipients who buy uncompromisingly at pension points, and at times accumulate huge debts.

The IFP supports the Bill. Obviously there is a lot of work to be done to protect our people from their own ignorance, scavenging market practices and the downright burying of consumers in debt. I thank you.

Mr G STRACHAN (Western Cape): Chairperson, happy birthday to the hon Minister. This is not my maiden speech; I have been here before. But it is a maiden speech wearing this cap, I suppose.

Hon members, thank you for the opportunity. If we were asked what single component of economic activity had the potential to influence the lives of most citizens significantly and quickly, I suppose we would all answer “consumer protection” without hesitation. The reason for this choice, as we all know, is that every citizen is a consumer, and almost every consumer of goods and services, at some time, is affected by business practices which are not always in the consumer’s best interests. This is sometimes popularly referred to as daylight robbery.

When we improve the protection of consumers against abusive practices, we are doing something significant to improve the lives of all citizens. Happily, efforts by government, through our education system and consumer awareness activities, have made a big difference in the lives of many citizen consumers. However, as has been noted, because of differences in educational levels of consumers, and because of uneven development and perhaps the uneven reach of awareness campaigns, some citizens remain more vulnerable than others. As has also been said, the most vulnerable are the poor and the marginalised.

I wish to say, with deep conviction, that we are absolutely persuaded that this legislation will make a significant difference in the lives of the most vulnerable. The reason for our enthusiasm arises from the experience of our provincial consumer protection authority, which led us to the following conclusions about the existing legislative framework. Firstly, the gaps in the legislation were becoming more apparent with each passing year. Secondly, legislative measures that are in place to address these issues are often fragmented. Thirdly, this fragmentation leads to uncertainty in a number of sectors and, as a result, many consumer protection issues are not fully enforced. Fourthly, changes in technology that we have experienced over the past decade have drastically altered the way in which ordinary business is conducted. A number of the fragmented pieces of legislation have not kept pace with the changing circumstances experienced within our economy. Lastly, legislation has not kept pace with the changing constitutional environment that has been created by the advent of democracy. Our Constitution enshrines, as we all know, the principles of human rights, respect, dignity and transparency. Many provisions of the legislation, especially those that predated our Constitution, fail to acknowledge and adhere to these very basic democratic principles.

I am happy to report that it is the view of our consumer protection officials on the ground that the Bill before us addresses these issues. It is my belief that this legislation will make the work of provincial consumer protection authorities much easier. In particular, we welcome the clear acknowledgement of the following: The rights that all of us as consumers enjoy; the role of consumer NGOs; the codification and enhancement of a number of common law measures and protections that previously existed; the fact that consumer protection is an area of concurrent competence between national and provincial government; and the establishment of the National Consumer Commission and the National Consumer Tribunal.

Before this Bill, the voices of consumers were somewhat muffled. Once this Bill becomes law, all consumers will have a powerful voice. The trick is going to be how we can ensure that this is advanced. We trust, and I join other members in saying this, that a mass-based and sustained public education will be put in place to support this excellent piece of legislation.

We wish to thank the Minister, the department and all those who contributed to this Bill. For the record, I can also report that there was a successful public hearing on the Bill. The matter was discussed in the standing committee at some length, and it passed through the provincial legislature with both the final and negotiating mandate. All inputs received in the public participation have been accommodated to the very best of our knowledge.

The Western Cape fully supports the proposed legislation. I thank you. [Applause.]

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: On behalf of the NCOP, Mr Strachan, we want to congratulate you on being appointed to your new post as an MEC. I hope you will keep on supporting us as you have been doing. Do not divorce us. This is your House. We wish you all the best in your new position. Thank you very much.

Ms B L NTEMBE: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, in general, this is a good Bill. This Bill aims to protect the consumer, especially the consumer in the low-income group. This is the group that is exploited. This group of people is not in a position to fight against all sorts of injustices due to lack of money. They are not in a position to take cases to higher courts. They are the ones who fight the least for their rights. In the Consumer Protection Bill, the tribunal will be able to listen to the side of the poorer consumer. This consumer is, many times, forced to be satisfied with low-standard goods due to lack of money.

How will this Bill protect this consumer? Can one be promised to be protected by this Bill to receive goods of a good standard and quality when the price of the article is low? This Bill made provision for inspectors. I just hope this will not be similar to the inspectors of the Department of Labour, where they seem not to pick up irregularities. It is a matter of inspectors that need inspectors.

When women take vehicles to workshops for repairs, there is a tendency for the service to be worse than it would be for a male. It is taken for granted that women will be less observant of the quality of the work done. Furthermore, prices become so expensive when people know that one is a Member of Parliament. I do not know if the Bill will speak to these situations.

If monitoring is going to be part of the implementation of this Bill, it can do a lot of good. The ID supports the Bill.

I thank you, Chairperson. Happy birthday, hon Minister.

Mr D D GAMEDE: Chairperson, firstly, let me also add my voice to wishing the hon Minister from my constituency a happy birthday. Secondly, on behalf of the ANC, let me also congratulate Comrade Strachan, the silent giant of the Western Cape, on his appointment as an MEC. Lastly, hon Minister, DTI is one of the best departments when it comes to assisting. They even assist us with their officials when we go to brief our provinces. I would like to thank you for that, hon Minister.

Let me also add my voice, as other members have already done, and state that we salute women in general this month for the struggles they have led for centuries, more especially the women of Africa. Indeed, this debate takes place in this very important month such that when we talk of consumer protection, we should also talk of the protection of women - that is, protection of women against physical, emotional, spiritual, financial and consumer abuse. In this debate, I will deal with consumer protection institutions, the enforcement of the Act and general provisions.

Parliament has a responsibility to pass Acts which establish and provide for structures and institutions to promote and facilitate intergovernmental relations as provided for in the Constitution, hence this Consumer Protection Bill. Chapter 5 of this Bill establishes national consumer protection institutions and goes further to make provisions for national and provincial co-operation.

In addition, the Bill also provides for the provincial consumer protection authorities and their functions. For example, in the provinces, they can issue a compliance notice to any person carrying on business exclusively within that province. The Bill also establishes the National Consumer Commission. The Bill makes provision for the appointment of inspectors, as my colleagues have said, and investigators. However, the question is whether these inspectors and investigators have the capacity and the required training to do this job. Nevertheless, we do trust that they will need some time to do this job and to do training.

Chapter 6 speaks to issues of enforcement of the Act whilst Chapter 7 speaks to other Acts which will need amendment as a result of this Bill being promulgated. Chapter 6 provides for enforcement functions of the commission, compliance notices and objections to notices. The commission may issue summons to any person who has information concerning a subject matter. The Bill also allows for an authority to enter and search under a warrant. However, the Bill also states that any person who conducts an entry and search must, in bold letters, have strict regard for decency, order and serious regard for each person’s right to dignity, freedom, security and privacy. As such, issues such as penalties, administrative fines and vicarious liabilities are provided for in the Bill.

Without wanting to repeat it, the ANC called for legislation to be rapidly developed to address consumer protection as stated clearly in its RDP document. Today, even though we might not have been rapid enough, we are doing it. We are passing this legislation. As usual, the private sector will oppose and fight this Bill. This will happen, firstly, because the Bill takes away their monopoly over the consumer, and secondly, because it protects the most vulnerable, which are the majority of Africans, blacks to be specific, and women, in particular, from unnecessary advertising and promotions. So, passing this legislation today and in this month really honours and recognises all women of South Africa.

The ANC supports the Bill. [Applause.]

The MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Chairperson, I would like to thank all the members who participated in this debate. Perhaps I should begin by acknowledging that I didn’t see that the hon Strachan was here. I would also like to congratulate him on his appointment, and I would like to say to him that it actually means very much to us that he came to this debate to register his strong support because this is the legislation that will achieve optimal impact if we can ensure that we do the right things at national and provincial level. For example, the issue that was raised by the hon Sibiya at the beginning around consumer awareness and education is, as far as we are concerned, something that is going to be the cornerstone of this legislation.

I would also like to take us back to the work that we did with the National Credit Regulator, and you would recall that there was quite a high profile sustained campaign providing information to people. I think this will obviously be one of the channels that we will need to use. We have already started with the work of raising awareness and campaigns. This is something we foresee unfolding, hon Sibiya, through a collaborative partnership between provinces, nongovernmental organisations and ourselves as the parties that are involved in this area of consumer protection.

I was talking to officials from the department earlier today about some of the many applications from various departments for exemptions from this. In talking to that, two pieces of legislation that have already been exempted were those that related to insurance. I shared with them that when I was the chairperson of the committee and we were processing the legislation, we were really helped by nongovernmental organisations that were involved in consumer activism and consumer protection. In particular, at that time, there was Mr Diane Terblanche who was very vociferous and very strong, but very knowledgeable, around issues of consumer rights, consumer protection and legislation. So, it is going to be very important for us to ensure that we maintain this kind of partnership with such organisations because they tend to be very informed and knowledgeable, and they have a lot of experience in this area.

But, of course, we will be using the media, workshops, as well as street theatre. This will have to be a multimedia campaign that will ensure that we really go out and reach our people because indeed our people must not be subjected to second-class treatment when it comes to the purchase of goods and services, very often with meagre resources. So, you would like to make sure that when you do spend those resources you get good value for your money.

This is something I said when we launched the metrology institute in terms of the new legislation to regulate issues of standards and accreditation. I said that they needed to make their work relevant to the ordinary person because their work was relevant. It is the work of the institute when, according to metrology, a loaf of bread or 12,5kg of sugar is supposed to have a certain density or weight and have this much volume. I also said that this area of work mattered to ordinary people because when they go out and buy that loaf of bread, they must get maximum benefit from buying it. So, we certainly have to make sure that this work is anchored on education and awareness.

At the same time, as we build effective institutions that will ensure that consumers have been made aware of their rights and want to exercise their rights, we have to ensure that we have the necessary support from institutions that can ensure that consumers truly exercise their rights.

The matter of capacity has been raised. I think the hon Chen and a number of other members raised this issue. Obviously this is something that we are going to have to build over time. When we started the work on the National Credit Regulator, one of the provisions was for debt counsellors - people who would help those who are in dire debt situations by restructuring their debts and renegotiating their terms. We never imagined or estimated the amount of capacity we would need for the work of debt counsellors because of the enormous scale of the problem of people who are seriously indebted. So, we had to undertake measures which we had not anticipated. I think we will do this over time. I think it is practical experience that will actually lead us in this particular regard. We are concerned about ensuring that the requisite capacities will be put in place.

I think the point about reviewing two years after implementation is a good proposal for us to keep in mind and perhaps aim for.

The issue that was raised by the hon Douglas about GMO labelling is a matter we became aware of because it was raised in hearings, and it is a matter we remain seized with. Part of what we felt we needed to do was to actually look at existing legislation on GMOs. We need to look at what the legislation deals with and try to get the best advice as to how best to deal with this issue. Perhaps because there is a special dispensation that deals with GMOs, the best we can look at in this legislation is to at least require that labelling be done so that when someone buys a product, he knows that it is a GMO. Even though we haven’t dealt with this as yet, it is a matter we are getting advice on and studying further to see how best we can deal with it. Otherwise, I really want to thank all the members for the strong support that has been registered for this Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Question put: That the Bill be agreed to.

IN FAVOUR: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West.

ABSTAINED: KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Western Cape.

Bill accordingly agreed to in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

                       REFUGEES AMENDMENT BILL

            (Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)

Ms J M MASILO: Chairperson of the NCOP, hon colleagues, special delegates from various provinces, as well as our newly appointed MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, hon Strachan from the Western Cape. Comrade, congratulations once more.

The Refugees Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Refugees Act, Act 130 of

  1. The objectives of this amendment are to provide for the following: definitions; delegation of powers; matters relating to the establishment of refugee reception offices; the dissolution of the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and the Refugee Appeal Board; matters relating to the Refugee Appeals Authority; clarification and revision of procedures relating to refugee status determination; obligations and rights of asylumseekers; and the retraction of certain sections.

Clause 10 deals with the establishment of refugee reception offices and their composition. The new composition of refugee reception offices no longer makes provision for refugee reception officers. Clause 10 removes the requirement that the director-general must establish refugee reception offices after consultation with the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs. The director-general may now, by notice in the Gazette, establish as many refugee reception offices in the Republic as he or she regards necessary.

In Clause 11, the insertion of sections 8A to 8J dissolves the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and the Refugee Appeal Board, and establishes a new body known as the Refugee Appeals Authority. The clause further inserts sections 8A to 8J into the Act which relate to the following on the Refugee Appeals Authority: its establishment; its composition; its functions and powers; its members’ periods of office; its members’ removal from office; the filling of vacancies; remuneration of its members; its administrative staff; and its annual reports.

Clause 15 further amends section 22(6) of the Act in order to provide that the director-general may, at any time, withdraw an asylumseeker permit in the prescribed manner. In terms of the principal Act, before the amendment, such withdrawal could only be done by the Minister.

The purpose of this amendment is to align the provisions of the Act with the provisions of the Children’s Act, Act 38 of 2005, so as to protect the rights of a child who is an asylumseeker. Furthermore, the Bill seeks to provide for any person with a mental disability who is found under circumstances that clearly indicate that he or she is an asylumseeker to be dealt with in terms of the Mental Health Care Act, Act 17 of 2002.

At the NCOP committee meeting held on 17 June 2008, the committee resolved to adopt the Bill with the following amendments in clause 14: The legislation currently entails that –

Any refugee whose child is born in the Republic must, within one month of the birth of his or her child, register such a child as a dependant at the Refugee Reception Office that processed his or her application.

The proposed amendment entails that –

Any refugee whose child is born in the Republic must, within one month of the birth of his or her child, register such a child as a dependant at any refugee reception office.

If the child is born in the Northern Cape and the refugee was registered in the Eastern Cape, the child must be registered in his or her place of birth.

The Select Committee on Social Services supports the Bill. I thank you, Chairperson.

Debate concluded.

Bill, subject to proposed amendments, agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.


            (Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)

Mr N J MACK: Chairperson, hon members, special delegates and the MEC, in his absence, I need to say something about the support of MEC Strachan for the NCOP and his presence not only in this House, but also when the NCOP takes Parliament to the people. He is always willing and always there not just by being present, but by always also being active in our debates. He is a shining example for most of the other members.

The Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill is a section 75 Bill. It was referred to the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs in terms of Rule 208(1) of the NCOP. The Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs dealt with the Bill in terms of Rule 210 of the NCOP and now submits its report to the House in terms of Rule 211 of the NCOP.

The Magistrates’ Courts Act of 1944 establishes and regulates the structure and functioning of magistrates’ courts which consist of district and regional courts. Being creators of statutes, these courts have jurisdiction only in respect of matters specified by statutes.

The objects of the Bill, amongst other things, are as follows: The Bill aims to bestow extended civil jurisdiction on regional courts. This includes jurisdiction to deal with all matters currently falling within the jurisdiction of divorce courts. The latter courts will be merged with and become part of regional courts. The proposed amendments will contribute towards enhancing access to justice for all and to transform justice, the state and the society.

By increasing the jurisdiction of regional courts, as envisaged in the Bill, judicial expertise of magistrates will also be developed further, thereby creating a greater pool of suitable candidates from which appointments could be made to the bench of superior courts.

We, as the select committee, made a few changes. I don’t want to go through all of them as this Bill was in the ATCs of 25 June 2008, and the report is in the ATCs.

I thank the members of the committee for taking the time to consider this Bill. The committee supports the Bill. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

Bill, subject to proposed amendments, agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.

                    RENAMING OF HIGH COURTS BILL

            (Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)

Mr D A WORTH: Chairperson, hon members, I have a whole 10 minutes. I don’t know what to do with 10 minutes. Again, if you clap and cheer, then I might not have to use all of my 10 minutes [Laughter].

Chairperson, the Renaming of High Courts Bill is part of the process of transforming the judicial system to create a single, integrated, accessible and affordable court system. The Bill proposes the scrapping of names of outdated jurisdictions such as Transvaal, Bophuthatswana, Thohoyandou and the Natal Provincial Divisions. Instead, the High Courts are to be named after the respective provinces in which they are situated to bring them in line with the new boundaries that came about after the scrapping of the former homelands and the establishment of nine provinces in terms of section 103 of the Constitution.

Chairperson, in terms of the Constitution, specifically item 16(4)(a) of Schedule 6, all provincial and local divisions of the Supreme Court of South Africa, including the superior courts of former homelands, became High Courts in their areas of jurisdiction, subject to the rationalisation process envisaged in item 16(6)(a).

Item 16(6)(a) of Schedule 6 to the Constitution provided that as soon as it is practical, after the new Constitution took effect, there should be a comprehensive rationalisation of the structure, composition, functioning and jurisdiction of all courts in order to establish a judicial system suited to the Constitution’s requirements. This Bill is an interim measure and it is part of the ongoing rationalisation process. The policy framework for the rationalisation process is still being finalised.

The renaming of the High Courts was considered significant because it was felt that, firstly, it was undesirable to preserve and use names of certain High Courts, some of which still retain their apartheid origins. Secondly, it was felt that the enactment and implementation of the Bill’s provisions would go a long way towards clearing up the uncertainty and confusion about several High Courts’ names.

The High Courts in eight provinces will have new names. Currently, there is no High Court in Mpumalanga. The Witwatersrand Local Division will become the South Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, while the Transvaal Provincial Division will become the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Secondly, the Durban and Coast Local Division and Natal Provincial Division, Pietermaritzburg, will become KwaZulu-Natal High Court, Durban and KwaZulu- Natal High Court, Pietermaritzburg, respectively. There will be four High Courts in the Eastern Cape province - the Eastern Cape High Court in Bisho, Grahamstown, Umtata and Port Elizabeth. There will be the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein. The Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division will become the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town. There will also be the Northern Cape High Court in Kimberley, Limpopo High Court in Thohoyandou and, lastly, the North West High Court in Mmabatho.

I ask that this House please support this Bill. I thank you. [Applause]. Debate concluded.

Bill, subject to a proposed amendment, agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.


Mr B J MKHALIPHI: Chairperson, hon members, we do appreciate the opportunity to talk briefly on the report of the Joint Budget Committee as it appeared in the ATCs of 23 June 2008.

This report is consistent with the terms of reference of the Joint Budget Committee, that is, to monitor on a monthly basis and to report on a quarterly basis to Parliament on expenditure incurred by national departments. The purpose of this monitoring initiative is to ascertain whether patterns of spending are consistent with the budgets of these national departments.

The monitoring of expenditure is the key means through which the NCOP and Parliament can track and respond to government performance during the year, and it provides an important basis for more detailed enquiries into policy outcomes and the scale of delivery. With reference to total expenditure, national departments spent approximately 98,5% of the allocated amount, resulting in an underexpenditure of 1,5% as compared to 2% underexpenditure in the previous financial year. We also note that the National Treasury, due to known circumstances, underspent the most, followed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, as well as the Department of Housing.

With reference to total expenditure, more than 20 national departments underspent in this period under review. The major defaulting departments are the Department of Transport, Statistics SA, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Education and the Department of Health. This underspending can be attributed to the following reasons: There is a large number of unfilled vacancies; there are inadequate procurement processes; there is a lack of clarity with regard to certain functions of these departments; there are many poor projections of expenditure growth; and there are delays in procurement of goods and services, as well as the construction and renovation of key facilities - for example, Upington Hospital.

With reference to capital expenditure, departments spent 96%. Hon members will think 96% is a good performance. Listen to this! The 4% represents an underexpenditure of approximately R329 million. Now, 96%! Capital spending is comprised of five main categories, namely, buildings and other fixed assets, machinery and equipment, cultivated assets, software and other intangible assets, and land and subsoil assets. Major defaulters in this case are the Department of Public Works, the Department of Correctional Services and the Department of Home Affairs. The Joint Budget Committee observes a remarkable discrepancy between the stated priorities of these departments and their spending.

Amongst others, the Joint Budget Committee therefore recommends that departments should establish timeframes to fill their funded but vacant posts, and that the department responsible for personnel administration, that is, the Department of Public Service and Administration, should closely monitor progress in this regard. We also call upon the National Treasury to consider more stringent monitoring and enquiry processes before granting additional funding for the compensation of employees. Departments must also motivate their ability to fill vacancies within a particular budgeting cycle before additional funding over the baseline for compensation is provided.

The National Treasury should, within this financial year, develop an in- year expenditure report for mega infrastructure projects with the sole purpose of making such report available to Parliament. The first report for the first six months of this year should be tabled in Parliament by the end of October. At the same time, the Department of Public Works should co- ordinate and strengthen its relations with other departments to ensure that infrastructure is developed and adequately maintained.

These are the highlights of our report as they appear in the ATCs for your notice and action. I thank you.

Debate concluded.

Question put: That the Report be adopted.

IN FAVOUR: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, Western Cape.

Report accordingly adopted in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


Question put: That the Report be adopted.

IN FAVOUR: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, Western Cape.

Report accordingly adopted in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.


          (Consideration of Report of Mediation Committee)

Question put: That the Report be adopted.

IN FAVOUR: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, Western Cape.

Report accordingly adopted in accordance with section 65 of the Constitution.

The Council adjourned at 16:01. ____



National Assembly and National Council of Provinces

The Speaker and the Chairperson

  1. Bills passed by Houses – to be submitted to President for assent
(1)    Bill passed by National Assembly and National Council of
     Provinces on 21 August 2008:

      a) Housing Development Agency Bill [B 1F – 2008] (National
         Assembly – sec 76(1)).
(2)    Bill passed by National Assembly on 21 August 2008:

      a) Human Sciences Research Council Bill [B 16D – 2007] (National
         Assembly – sec 75).

National Council of Provinces

The Chairperson

  1. Message from National Assembly to National Council of Provinces in respect of Bills passed by Assembly and transmitted to Council
(1)    Bills passed by National Assembly and transmitted for
     concurrence on 21 August 2008:

     (a)      Competition Amendment Bill [B 31B – 2008] (National
         Assembly – sec 75).

         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Economic
         and Foreign Affairs of the National Council of Provinces.

     (b)      Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Financed
         Research and Development Bill [B 46B – 2008] (National
         Assembly – sec 75).

         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Education
         and Recreation of the National Council of Provinces.

     (c)      National Land Transport Bill [B 51B – 2008] (National
         Assembly – sec 76(1)).
         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Public
         Services of the National Council of Provinces.

     (d)      National Energy Bill [B 52D – 2008] (National Assembly –
         sec 75).
         ([B 52D – 2008] to be printed after adoption of amendment to
         Clause 13 of National Energy Bill [B 52B – 2008 (Reprint)],
         see Minutes of Proceedings of National Assembly, 21 August
         2008, p    ).

         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Economic
         and Foreign Affairs of the National Council of Provinces.

     (e)      Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Amendment Bill [B 55B
         – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).

         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Economic
         and Foreign Affairs of the National Council of Provinces.

     (f)      Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Bill [B 59 – 2008]
         (National Assembly – sec 77).

         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Finance
         of the National Council of Provinces.

     (g)      Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty (Administration)
         Bill [B 60 – 2008] (National Assembly – sec 75).
         The Bill has been referred to the Select Committee on Finance
         of the National Council of Provinces.


National Assembly and National Council of Provinces

  1. The Minister for Public Enterprises

    (a) Report and Financial Statements of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (Pty) Limited for 2007-2008, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements for 2007-2008.