Further Education & Training College Amendment Bill mandates & adoption, Skills Development Amendment Bill Adoption
The Committee formally considered the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B13D-2011], which was intended to remove all references to provincial authorities, and assign functions that formerly resided with the Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) to the Minister of Higher Education and Training. References to “Head of Department” would also be replaced with “Director-General”. It was explained that these amendments were in line with the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill, which would make Further Education and Training Colleges an exclusively national function, instead of a concurrent national and provincial function. The Bill also contained provisions regulated the conduct of members of the council, and prevented staff of colleges from entering into business deals with the relevant college, as well as provisions around appointment of staff and transitional arrangements.
Seven provinces voted in favour of the Bill, with amendments. However, Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature had indicated that it was in favour of Bill B13B-2011, which meant that it did not confer a mandate on its representative to vote in favour of the Bill with amendments. The mandate from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature was not conveyed to the Committee in the correct manner, and therefore was not taken into account during the voting (although it had indicated its support for the Bill). The Bill was adopted.
The Skills Development Bill (reprinted version) was presented to the Committee and the Department of Higher Education and Training explained that the reason behind the Bill was to ensure that when the Skills Development Act was transferred to fall under the Minister of Higher Education and Training, those matters that would not fall under that Minister, but would still fall under the Minister of Labour, would be repealed from the Skills Development Act, and new legislation would be drafted to deal with those issues. This effectively related to Productivity SA and the employment services, and these were already contained in new legislation, although it had not gone through all the Parliament processes. Members agreed to the adoption of this Bill and suggested that Members should be present during the debates on the Bill in the House to express their appreciation to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training for their work on the Bills.
The Committee Secretary noted the apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister and other apologies.
Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill [B13D-2011]: Mandates
The Committee noted that the purpose of the Further Education and Training Colleges Amendment Bill (the FET Bill) was to amend the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges Act, 2006, so as to remove all references to a provincial authority. It would also assign functions previously assigned to the Member of the Executive Council to the Minister. It would remove the references to “Head of Department” and replace them with “Director General”. The Bill also contained provisions to regulate the conduct of members of the Council, members of a committee of the Council and staff of a public and FET College from engaging in business with the relevant college, provisions around the appointment of staff and transitional arrangements.
The Committee noted that the effect of the FET Bill was that, in future, FET Colleges would become an exclusive national competency, instead of a concurrent national and provincial department competency, in line with agreements reached to align the Act with the proposed amendment to the Constitution, as contained in the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill. The amendments would come into operation once Schedule 4 of the Constitution had been amended and taken effect.
The Chairperson asked the Members from each of the provinces to read their mandates.
Ms D Rantho (ANC, Eastern Cape) read the mandate from the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, noting that this province supported the FET Bill and mandated the Eastern Cape delegate to vote in favour of the adoption of the Bill.
Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) read the mandate from the Free State Legislature, noting that it was in favour of the FET Bill.
Ms M Madadla (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) read out the mandate from the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, which mandated the delegate to vote in favour of the FET Bill.
Mr A Mashamaite (ANC, Limpopo) read the mandate from the Limpopo Legislature, noting that this legislature had mandate its delegate to vote in favour of the FET Bill.
Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West) read the mandate from the North West Provincial Legislature, specifically noting that this Province had considered the amendments to clauses 8 (new subclause (11), giving a definition of “immediate family”) and technical amendments to clause 35. The mandate did not actually say that the Province had indicated its support for the FET Bill.
The Chairperson said legal advice would have to be sought on that point.
She later reported, after consultation, that the Province had voted in favour of the Bill, with the amendments proposed.
Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) noted the mandate from the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature to support the FET Bill.
Mr M de Villiers (DA, Western Cape) read the mandate from the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, which noted that this legislature was in favour of the FET Bill.
Ms M Boroto (ANC, Mpumalanga) was not sure whether she should read out the mandate from the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, noting that it stated the Bill on which it had voted to be [B13B-2011], and not [B13D-2011].
The Committee sought legal advice on that point.
Adv Anthea Gordon, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, noted that when a Bill was sent through from the National Assembly (NA), if it was passed with amendments then this would result in there being a B-version of the bill before the Select Committee. If there were any further amendments proposed, then there would be a C list drawn and the Bill to be voted on would be the D-version of the Bill. Even though the mandate of the Northern Cape had not specifically referred to the D-version of the Bill, the vote could be accepted as being in favour of the D Bill.
On the mandate of Mpumalanga, which also referred to [B13B-2011] with no reference to amendments being passed by the Select Committee, the nett effect would be that Mpumalanga had not expressed itself in favour of the B-version with the amendments proposed.
The Chairperson said the Member for Gauteng would be allowed to read out the mandate of the Gauteng Legislature, but noted that it could not be formally considered, as it had not been sent to the Committee in writing.
Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) stressed that the Province had signed its acceptance of the Bill at 09:51, before the meeting started, and it was sent to Mr Mahlangu, Chairperson of the NCOP at that time, and was also e-mailed to the Chairperson before the meeting started.
Adv Anthea Gordon pointed out that in terms of the legislation on mandates, the final mandate must serve before the Select Committee, and the mandate was not before the Committee, notwithstanding the fact that the Province had indicated that the mandate had been communicated to the Chairperson. She also added that final mandates would be put to the Committee, which had to pass a final mandate, then the voting mandate would be exercised in a plenary session. Technically, the mandate from Gauteng was not tabled to the Select Committee in line with the legislation and therefore could not influence this morning’s vote.
The Chairperson accepted the Adv Gordon’s advice, and stressed that Members should ensure that the correct procedures were followed, in future.
Adv Gordon added that the lead indicated by the Province was taken into account. However, what was before the Committee was a D-Bill. The Province could still sit prior to the plenary session of the NCOP, and then forward a voting mandate to the NCOP, for a vote in the plenary session. She thought that the Bill was scheduled to come before the House on 6 December. For the purposes of this meeting, the Committee could record what the provinces had indicated, but Gauteng would not be able to influence the voting in favour of the amendments.
The Committee went through the Bill clause by clause.
Members were in agreement with each of the clauses.
Ms Rantho raised the issue that during discussions in the Eastern Cape, when the amendments were considered, the issue was raised that the Department of Higher Education and Training (the Department) had not commented on them, and although the Department had promised to visit the provincial legislatures and explain the Bill, it had not done so. FET Colleges in the Eastern Cape experienced problems that needed to be raised with the Department, and she suggested that the Department must try to meet with the provincial portfolio committees.
The Chairperson noted, on page 14, that the amendments were considered, and said other issues could be discussed later.
The Committee adopted the Bill, with amendments. The Committee Report on the Bill was also read out, and adopted.
Skills Development Bill [B16B-2011 (Reprint)]
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the Skills Development Bill (the SD Bill) had been tabled on the previous day, when the Department had briefed the Committee on it.
Mr Mashamaite proposed that, since the SD Bill was not in conflict with any clause of the Constitution, it be adopted.
Ms Rasmeni would support that in principle, but asked that there be clarity given on what was being repealed in the principal Skills Development Act.
Ms Rantho indicated her support for the SD Bill.
Adv Eben Boshoff, Chief Director: Legal Services, Department of Higher Education and Training, explained that the sections identified in this SD Bill as being repealed were those sections set out in the President’s Proclamation No. 56, dated 4 September 2009. They were not being repealed as the functions contained in these sections would not be transferred to the Minister of Higher Education and Training. This proclamation had already taken effect. The SD Bill was therefore consequential on the proclamation, and was “cleaning up” the Act that would in future be administered by the Department of Higher Education and Training. The Minister of Labour would now be able to develop specific legislation on Productivity South Africa (which remained in that Ministry’s domain) and employment services matters. The draft of this labour legislation had already been prepared but had not gone through all the Parliamentary processes. The SD Bill had the effect of repealing certain sections of the SD Act that would in future reside under the Ministry of Labour, transferring the functions that would reside under the Ministry of Higher Education and Training, and ensuring that this was done in a manner that would ensure that there was no vacuum when the repeal took effect.
The Committee then proceeded to consider the Bill, clause by clause.
The Committee adopted the Bill was adopted.
The Committee also read out the Report, noting that this Bill was agreed to.
The Chairperson read the report.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and Members for the effort they had put into this matter.
Ms Boroto suggested that Members should attend the debate on the Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment bills, to show appreciation to the Minister and Deputy Minister.
The meeting was adjourned.