The DA has called for the public participation process on the Children’s Amendment Bill to be paused until their concerns are addressed.
Cape Town – The DA has called for the public participation process on the Children’s Amendment Bill to be paused until their concerns are addressed.
The DA’s spokesperson for social development, Bridget Masango, who wrote to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on social development, Mondli Gungubele, said the bill in its current form was fundamentally flawed and must be rectified before the public participation process continued.
The DA raised concerns over the “chaotic with haphazard” postponements of hearings, the lack of communication regarding submissions received from the public and stakeholders, and no information regarding access to the submissions.
“The committee simply cannot wait until March 16 before we see the submissions, and the DA refuses to accept the summarised version of the submissions. Each and every submission deserves proper contemplation and scrutiny,” she said.
Masango said the bill was of paramount importance to countless children and could not be rushed through.
“The consequences of an ill-thought-through and unconstitutional bill will haunt our children and open them up to harm if due diligence was not done now,” she said.
“The DA has in numerous committee meetings requested clarification on which clauses of the bill pertain to the comprehensive legal solution. To date, however, no clarity has been forthcoming. In order to ascertain for instance how the high court order on foster care would impact children, this clarification is urgently needed,” she said.
Western Cape Commissioner for Children Christina Nomdo said it was important for public hearings on the bill to proceed as soon as possible.
“We note the public hearings have been postponed but trust that Parliament is doing everything possible to conduct the public hearings on the parts of the bill that is not being challenged due to the lack of proper consultation with other spheres of government.
“This pause in the process is opportune to also align to other constitutional imperatives, such as child participation rights. Public hearings provide the opportunity to society, including children and youth, to make submissions into law reform processes. It is vital that the participation of children and youth be facilitated in the Children’s Act Amendment Bill public hearings, as this is a pivotal law regulating their lives,” said Nomdo.
Gungubele said the administrative and legal teams will attend to issues raised. He, however, said the committee could not pause the processing of the bill.
“Whether that makes them participate or not is outside of my authority. However, it would be useful if they participate and be part of resolving the challenges they say exist. All political parties are principals in the formation of legislation. There is nothing which will make us stop processing the bill now. But if anything comes which is fundamental, we will attend to it,” Gungubele said.