The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has, after a period of review and reflection, resolved to resume the public hearings on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill in the remaining provinces. The committee had taken the difficult decision to pause the hearings in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to address some internal operational challenges that had a potential to compromise the integrity of this critical process.
“We took the unprecedented decision because we are cognisant of the importance of public consultation in law-making and we wanted to secure the integrity of this process. Also, there has been incredible interest in the amendments primarily because stakeholders and individuals are interested in ensuring a functional educational system for the children of this country thus all systems had to be in place to cater for this interest. We are now satisfied that all the operational risks have been addressed by Parliament’s internal units which will ensure a seamless process of public consultation,” said Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Chairperson of the committee.
The committee reiterates that the public hearings undertaken in Limpopo, Free State, North West and in Mpumalanga were well organised and Parliament had created an enabling environment for the hearings to be held. In all those hearings individuals and organisations were given adequate opportunity to make oral and written representations to the committee. Also, the committee late last year held extensive oral hearings for organisations where submissions were made. Furthermore, the committee received extensive written hearings on the Bill.
“It was only in Gert Sibande District in Mpumalanga when we were scheduled to hold the last hearings where we realised the inherent risk caused by miscommunication of the venue that we resolved to postpone the last hearing there. As per the promise made then, the committee will also hold another hearing in Mpumalanga,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba emphasised. Following the request by member of the committee, Ms Elizabeth Sukers, the committee resolved that it will be best to postpone the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal legs of the public hearings to safeguard the integrity of the hearings.
The committee will conduct public hearings during the week and on weekends to afford stakeholders, organisations and individuals enough opportunity to participate. “In ensuring wide-ranging participation, we decided to hold hearings at times and days where all people get an opportunity to participate. Also, all the units that provide support to the hearings at Parliament have assured the committee that all processes are in place to support the hearings in the remaining five provinces,” Ms Mbinqo-Gigaba emphasised.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.