Opposition parties walk out of social development meeting – Bridget Masango – POLITICS

DA MP says it was agreed in good faith that Article 21 would remain in the amended bill, completely ignored by the ANC

Opposition parties walk out of a Social Development Portfolio Committee meeting

May 26, 2022

Yesterday, the DA and other opposition parties (the EFF, the IFP, the Freedom Front Plus and the ACDP) as well as NGOs left a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting with the Ministry of Social Development to finalize deliberations on clauses to be included in the Children’s Bill. This, after a good faith agreement that Section 21 would remain in the amended bill, was completely ignored by ANC members of the portfolio committee and parliamentary legal advisers.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was introduced to implement the ‘comprehensive legal solution’ ordered by the North Gauteng High Court in 2011 to address challenges within the foster care system. The bill aims to strengthen safeguards for children and address other concerns, such as early childhood development (ECD) and adoption.

On May 18, parliamentary legal advisers recommended keeping 12 clauses of the bill. The committee deliberated and agreed that 13 clauses would remain from the original bill. Disturbingly, despite the committee’s consensus, the Department and Parliamentary Counsel completely ignored the committee’s understandings and removed section 21 from the agreed list of surviving sections.

Article 21 deals with the rights and responsibilities of unmarried fathers. Unless section 24 of the Children’s Act is amended, guardianship jurisdiction would remain with the courts, which would cause unreasonable delays and would not be in the best interests of the child.

Joel C. Hicks