Dramatic events at the NCOP meeting in Parliament

The rural people who spoke out against the TCB during the provincial hearings won a major victory on Wednesday when the Provinces submitted their negotiating mandates. Four provinces rejected the Bill outright, namely the Eastern Cape, North West, Gauteng and Western Cape. The mandate of the Eastern Cape states that, “no amount of amendments and redrafting can salvage this Bill”.

That provinces have come out so strongly in opposition to a Bill is unprecedented in ANC parliamentary politics. Mpumalanga is deadlocked and asked for more time to finalise their mandate and a delegate from Limpopo was at pains to emphasise that the province’s proposed amendments do not suggest that they support the Bill. In any event the far-reaching amendments proposed by the other provinces are mutually inconsistent with one another and mean that the Bill cannot be salvaged by mere amendments. (The provincial mandates are attached)

However, instead of discussing the mandates as the Committee was scheduled to do, the Chair proposed that the process be postponed to allow for further public hearings. He mentioned that the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities wanted to make a submission to the NCOP, as well as the ANC Women’s League. The Committee is mandated to call for and allow submissions to itself in Cape Town. However it is not mandated to do what happened next, which was that members called for the provincial public hearing process to be re-opened. As a member for the Eastern Cape explained, this creates confusion about the status of the current mandates and interferes with the legislative process set out in law.

The Legal Resources Centre has sent a letter to the NCOP on behalf of the Alliance for Rural Democracy. This letter argues that the NCOP cannot deviate from the proper process and re-open the provincial hearings. It also says that there were problems with the hearings, and the Alliance may still decide to challenge whether they were fairly and properly conducted. But that is separate matter, which cannot be pre-empted by fudging the issue at this late stage. (LRC letter attached, Preliminary LRG report on the Hearings attached).

See the Alliance for Rural Democracy’s press statement about the developments at the NCOP – National Council of Provinces