October 19, 2019

The Committee on Home Affairs unanimously voted to repeal a provision in the Civil Union Act which allows Home Affairs marriage officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples. The landmark Bill, tabled in January, if passed will bring an end to a clause in the Act which has long been considered discriminatory.

"Members have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts". This was the conclusion of a brief, but possibly much-needed history lesson by the DA’s Cathlene Labuschagne, who put forward a motion noting “incorrect claims about the DA” made by the Minister in the Presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She is alleged to have said that the apartheid-era National Party had merged with the DA and, further, that the DA has existed for over 300 years.

Despite high levels of spending of the government’s Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG), dangerous pit latrines, crumbling mud classrooms and shortages of desks, chairs and other resources remain commonplace throughout much of the education sector. This prompted the parliamentary Appropriations Committee to ask if the education sector should be left with the task of struggling to improve its infrastructure, or whether this should actually be the responsibility of the Department of Public Works.

The controversial Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill was adopted by the Portfolio Committee on Police last week, despite a protracted public consultation process which had civil society denouncing the Bill as the apartheid-era National Key Point Act of 1980 masquerading under a new name.

As the debate on land restitution gains momentum, with unseemly haste displayed by the ruling party which couldn't even wait for the parliamentary process to run its course, now is a good time to stop and look back. The decade-long MalaMala land deal provides a salutary lesson on the need to tread with great caution. Before the country-wide consultation process got underway Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform discussed this example of how land redistribution can go very wrong, even if it is agreed in principle that this is what it will take for transformation ti become a reality.

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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