DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko MP has, as part of her party’s 2012 Parliamentary agenda listed what draft legislation it will support and which Bills it might oppose in their current form.
“In some cases, bills may still need to be debated by the DA’s national caucus and the party’s position has therefore not been finalised,” she says. They include:
Implementation of Geneva Conventions Bill: The purpose of this Bill is to enact the Geneva Conventions and Protocols additional to those Conventions into law; to ensure prevention and punishment of grave breaches and other breaches of the Conventions and Protocols; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “The DA will support this Bill.”
The Military Ombud Bill: This Bill provides for the establishment of an independent Office of the Military Ombud; to provide for the appointment and functions of the Military Ombud; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “The DA will oppose this Bill.”
Protection of Personal Information Bill: The purpose of this Bill is to promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “The DA’s position has not been finalised on this Bill, although we are generally supportive of the Bill’s overall thrust.
Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill: This Bill intends to give effect to the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000; to provide for an offence of trafficking in persons and other offences associated with trafficking in persons; to prevent and combat the trafficking in persons within or across the borders of the Republic; to provide for measures to protect and assist victims of trafficking in persons; to provide for the establishment of the Inter-sectoral Committee on Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “It is likely that the DA will support this Bill.”
Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill: This Bill seeks to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, so as to substitute and align the provisions relating to the use of force in effecting arrest of a suspect with a judgment of the Constitutional Court; and related matters. “The DA’s position on this bill is still being decided, although we are not currently supportive of the Bill as some changes are needed.”
Constitution 17th Amendment Bill: The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, so as to further define the role of the Chief Justice as the head of the judiciary; to change references to ‘‘Magistrates’ Courts” to ‘‘Lower Courts”; to provide for a single High Court of South Africa; to provide that the Constitutional Court is the highest court in all matters; to further regulate the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal; to provide for the appointment of an Acting Deputy Chief Justice; to further regulate the composition and the functions of the Judicial Service Commission; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “The Bill is still currently being deliberated and the DA does not have a final position at this point, although we are supportive of the intention of the Bill.”
Superior Courts Bill: This Bill seeks to rationalise, consolidate and amend the laws relating to the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the High Court of South Africa; to make provision for the administration of the judicial functions of all courts; to make provision for administrative and budgetary matters relating to the Superior Courts; and to provide for matters incidental thereto. “This Bill must be understood in conjunction with the Constitution 17th Amendment Bill.”
SA Weather Service Amendment Bill: This Bill seeks to extend the objectives and functions of the South African Weather Service, to provide for the limitation of liability of the Weather Service, and to provide for offences and penalties to those who issue anything deemed as a severe weather-related warning without written permission. “The DA will seek to make amendments to the Bill in a number of key areas, namely the definition of a severe weather warning, the prohibition on severe weather-related warnings without written permission and the prohibition on anyone doing anything intentionally or negligently that harms the Weather Service.”
General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill: The purpose of this Bill is to amend the National Strategic Intelligence Act, 1994, the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, 1994, and the Intelligence Services Act, 2002, and repeal the Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd Act, 2002, so as to accommodate the establishment of the State Security Agency as a body into which certain government components are absorbed; to effect technical amendments to certain laws brought about by the abolishment of those government components; to effect certain other technical amendments to laws; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “The party position on the Bill is still being finalised.”
Defence Amendment Bill: This Bill seeks to amend the Defence Act, 2002, so as to add the Chief of Corporate Staff to the Military Command; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “We oppose adding this position to the Military Command, due to undue interference from the Executive in appointing the Chief of Corporate Staff.”
Protection of State Information Bill: The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the protection of certain state information from alteration, loss or destruction or unlawful disclosure; to regulate the manner in which state information may be protected; to repeal the Protection of Information Act, 1982; and to provide for matters connected therewith. “If passed, the Bill, which is currently before the NCOP, would in effect criminalise investigative journalism and prevent whistle blowers from revealing corruption within government departments. It is a threat to the constitutional right to freedom of expression. The DA is currently proposing amendments to the Bill in the NCOP. There are three main changes which we will push for in the committee: the inclusion of a strengthened public interest override; a sufficiently limited definition of national security; and a review of sections pertaining to almost all offences (such as the possession and disclosure of classified information). Should these amendments not be included, the DA will use the Section 79 provision in the Constitution to request that the President send the Bill back to the National Assembly for amendment, as it is unconstitutional. Should this not succeed, the DA will lobby other political parties, as well as ANC members who are opposed to the Bill, to have the enacted law referred to the Constitutional Court in terms of Section 80 of the Constitution.”
Typically, DA opposition to a Bill cannot block it from passage if the ruling African National Congress uses its majority to force it through, as was seen with the Protection of State Information Bill. But, the party’s opposition can see the Bill considerably delayed.