NCOP PASSED THE CYBERCRIMES BILL, CIVIL UNION AND THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LAWS AMENDMENT BILLS

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at its sitting on Wednesday morning passed three Bills, the Cybercrimes Bill, The Civil Union Amendment Bill and the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill.

DearSA-cybercrime

The Cybercrimes Bill was initially introduced as the Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill in 2017. It was referred to the fifth democratic Parliament’s Select Committee on Security and Justice from the National Assembly on 27 November 2018. The Bill was thoroughly advertised for public participation in 2019, where substantive inputs were provided by various stakeholders and individuals. However, it lapsed at the end of the fifth Parliament and it is among the Bills that were revived by the NCOP through a resolution on 17 October 2019.

The objectives of the Bill are, among others, to create offences and impose penalties which have a bearing on cybercrime, to criminalise the distribution of data messages which are harmful and to provide for interim protection orders, and to further regulate jurisdiction in respect of cybercrimes.

The Bill further aims to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, to further regulate aspects relating to mutual assistance in respect of the investigation of cybercrimes and to provide for the establishment of a 24/7 Point of Contact. The Bill also impose obligations on electronic communications service providers and financial institutions to assist in the investigation of cybercrimes. It also provides that that the executive may enter into agreements with foreign states to promote cybersecurity.

The NCOP also passed the Civil Union Bill, which was referred to the Select Committee on Security after its revival in 2019. The purpose of the Civil Union Bill is to repeal section 6 of the Civil Union Act of 2006 which allows a marriage officer to inform the Minister that he or she objects on the ground of conscience, religion, and belief to solemnising a civil union between persons of the same sex.

During the vigorous processing of the Bill, the Select Committee received extensive submissions – a total of 325 submissions from organisations and individuals either in favour or against the amendment Bill. The Committee also considered Section 195 (1) of the Constitution which provides that public administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including in subsection (d) that services must be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias.

The Committee noted further that Section 197(3) of the Constitution provides that no employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular political party or cause. The Committee agreed that the repeal of Section 6 of the Civil Union Act, 2006 was important in advancing equality and upholding the Constitutional rights afforded to persons entering into same sex unions.

The Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill was also passed by the sitting of the House. The Bill seeks to amend the Scientific Research Council Act of 1988, the Academy of Science of South Africa Act of 2001, the Human Sciences Research Council Act of 2008, the Technology Innovation Agency Act of 2008, and the South African National Space Agency Act of 2008, so as to harmonise the processes for the termination of the membership of Boards or Councils of the entities established by these Acts.

The Bills will be sent to the President for assent.

ISSUED BY PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA 

AGRICULTURE AND LAND COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE PROCESSING ULTRA BILL

DearSA Parliamentary media release

The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (National Assembly) on Friday was briefed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill [B6-2020].

The ULTRA Bill seeks to address the unfair discrimination of women based on their gender to their right of tenure as found in the case of the Rahube matter, where the deed of grant was tested as it applied to only males. In the Rahube matter it was an automatic transfer to the male.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development must study the clauses and provisions in the principal Act that may render the legislation unconstitutional, and furthermore, the department must also look at other Bills and Acts such as the Communal Land Rights Act and others, which will affect the ULTRA Bill, and devise a comprehensive legislative framework to engage with the Bill.

Notwithstanding this, the committee notes the Constitutional Court ruling to have the Bill finalised by April 2021, and therefore will proceed to provide the public with opportunities for submitting their views on the Bill in writing and other means amidst the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that public participation is sought on the ULTRA Bill.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, NKOSI ZWELIVELILE MANDELA.

UIF SHOULD FIX SYSTEM

DearSA Parliamentary media release

UIF SHOULD FIX SYSTEM THAT MAKES IT VULNERABLE TO FRAUD – SCOPA

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has told the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to fix the shortcomings in the information technology system they are using for the disbursement of funds during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

The shortcomings of the system have made the UIF vulnerable to fraud and corruption from employees and employers who have made false claims amounting to millions of rands. The committee has asked the UIF to submit a detailed plan on its migration to a better system that will avoid such loopholes that open it up to fraud.

Scopa has also asked the fund to submit a detailed report on the 16 cases where there were overpayments and erroneous payments. The committee hopes that those that are found to be involved in the fraudulent payments will face consequences. The committee is aware that the Hawks are investigating the R5.7 million paid into an incorrect bank account. Scopa has asked the UIF to submit a detailed report on this issue, that it can use as a briefing note, by Wednesday, 1 July 2020.

Scopa welcomes the disbursement of over R25 billion to four million workers who have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee, however, is concerned over the administrative delays in the processing of some disbursements, which have left almost one million employees in the lurch. Scopa believes that there should be a general overflow of communication between the UIF and the workers.

Scopa is aware that the Auditor-General is conducting a special audit for the Covid-19 pandemic, whose outcomes are expected to be released in August. The Auditor-General will cover ordinarily what Scopa would have focused on. The Auditor-General’s special audit will test their implementation of preventative controls, will detect and audit high-risk items, table special reports in Parliament, and will outline consequence management. Therefore, to avoid the duplication of resources, Scopa will await that process for the outcomes of how the UIF spent funds during this lockdown period.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF SCOPA, MR MKHULEKO HLENGWA.

PRESIDENT ANSWERS QUESTIONS AND NCOP CONSIDERS APPROPRIATION BILL

DearSA Parliamentary media release

PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA ANSWERS QUESTIONS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND NCOP CONSIDERS APPROPRIATION BILL

Parliament, Wednesday 17 June 2020 – President Cyril Ramaphosa will appear at the National Assembly hybrid plenary sitting for oral replies to questions from Members of Parliament tomorrow, Thursday, 18 June 2020. This is the President’s first appearance in the National Assembly for oral questions since the declaration of COVID-19 as a national state disaster.

The President’s question and answer session is the only agenda item. Questions for the oral reply to the President are scheduled at least once a quarter during session time within the National Assembly’s annual programme. Up to six questions on matters of national or international importance may be asked during the three-hour session. The three hours are allotted to cover the main questions and associated supplementary questions.

The six questions scheduled for tomorrow’s sitting will cover a range of matters related to the management of the Coronavirus, including among others:

  • what measures has Government put in place to accelerate the recovery of the South African economy amid the effects of COVID;
  • What relevant details of the scientific risk assessment that the Government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) allegedly relied on with regard on the modelling used to predict the number of deaths and the projected number of deaths upon which the President announced the institution of a national hard lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 from 26 March 2020;
  • whether the President’s decision to ease the lockdown from alert level 5 to level 4 and level 3 within a short space of time was informed by scientific evidence;
  • and what would be his policy directives to the Department of Small Business Development and small, medium and micro enterprises that will strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods in achieving the National Development Plan target of creating 9,9 million new jobs which would constitute 90% of all new jobs by 2030?

Holding regular question and answer sessions is one way in which Parliament holds the President and the Executive to account.

DETAILS OF THE HYBRID SITTING ARE AS FOLLOWS: 
Date: Thursday, 18 June 2020
Time: 15.00
Venue: National Assembly Chamber, Parliament and online Platform

To see all the questions to the President please click: QUESTION PAPER

Meanwhile, the other House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces will also hold (hybrid) plenaries to debate and consider the Appropriation Bill on 18 (Thursday at 10 am) and 19 (Friday at 9 am) June 2020.

Members of the public may get involved and follow committee sittings live on Parliament TV (DSTV Channel 408), via live stream on Parliament YouTube channel and Twitter page on the links below. You may subscribe to the Parliament YouTube channel to receive instant notification of live feeds.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ParliamentofRSA
Facebook: https://facebook.com/ParliamentofRSA
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/ParliamentofRSA

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES