6 November 1998

Legislative Achievements

During the past half year the ANC passed a substantial number of Bills to further entrench the rights of South African citizens as espoused in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These Bills are aimed at eradicating the Apartheid legacy, democratising and transforming our society to reflect the demographics, geographical, race and gender spread of the country. Some of the legislation covers areas such as health, welfare, justice, education, housing and crime where transformation was needed. Other legislation strengthened already transformatory laws. These Bills reflect the ANC’s commitment to better the lives of all South Africans, especially the disadvantaged sections of society.

Labour Bills that will Bolster the Economy

The ANC believes that the emphasis of higher education must be shifted to equip people with the skills to do a job and the ability to adapt to lifelong learning. The Skills Development Bill will develop the skills of our workforce, increase the quality of working life for workers, improve productivity in the workplace, promote self-employment and the delivery of social services, and improve the employment prospects of the disadvantaged through relevant training.

The ANC believes that in every workplace there should be a culture of non-discrimination. The Employment Equity Bill will redress the imbalances of the past without compromising the ability of business to function efficiently and profitably. The Bill ensures that unqualified people are not simply employed to fill racial quotas, but that qualified people from all sectors have equal opportunities to contribute to the economic development of our nation.

Justice Bills to Protect Women and Children

The Maintenance Bill was introduced to rectify the injustice of past practices, make the justice system more people-friendly and give maintenance courts more powers to make orders against run-away parents. The Bill will ensure that more children receive the maintenance money due to them. It guarantees equal access for all women to protection from unjust treatment by people who undermine the rights of women. With the Domestic Violence Bill the ANC makes very clear its commitment to a criminal justice policy that caters for the special needs of women and children. The Bill makes it clear that violence against women and children will neither be excused nor tolerated.

National Environment Management Bill

The previous NP regime regarded the environment as secondary to development and making profits. The ANC believes that development must be sustainable, so that the needs of the people are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The Bill is proof that the ANC is making a concerted effort to move away from the perceived conflict between development and conservation. For the ANC, development involves economic progress and protecting our natural resources.

Education Bills to Open the Doors of Learning to All

The Employment of Educators Bill is a major step towards regulating and stabilising the teaching profession. It clarifies the various crises, conflicts and tensions in the education system. It further affirms the role of school governing bodies in the appointment of teachers. The Bill provides a basis for conflict resolution and redressing the inequalities inherited from Apartheid. The Further Education and Training Bill will redress the imbalances of the past and address the new challenges in education. Everyone has the right to further education and the State must provide it.

The Broadcasting Bill

Under Apartheid, the State owned broadcasting in South Africa and used it to promote and maintain its racist laws. The Bill ensures that the airwaves belong to all our people, that communities define themselves in any way - religious or cultural - and that the industry plays a developmental role in uplifting communities.

Competition Bill

The ANC Government recognises that Apartheid caused imbalances in the concentrations of ownership and control in the South African economy, there was poor enforcement of anti-competitive trade practices and unfair restrictions on full and free economic participation by all South Africans. The Competition Bill will ensure an efficient, competitive economic environment. It balances the interests of workers, owners and consumers and will be focussed on development. The Bill will establish independent bodies to ensure that all South Africans have equal and fair opportunities to participate in the economy.

Liquor Bill

Under Apartheid, liquor became a tool of discrimination. White bosses used liquor to degrade and disempower blacks, especially with the introduction of the tot system. It resulted in a lack of development and high levels of unemployment in poor, black communities. The liquor industry became a source of massive economic wealth, political power and benefits for rich, white people. The Liquor Bill will address the tragic socio-economic effects of liquor in our communities while, at the same time, recognising the economic benefits of the trade. The Bill will ensure effective control of liquor by promoting compliance, applying penalties to violations and empowering previously disadvantaged persons to access the industry.

Correctional Services Bill

The Correctional Services Bill represents a break with the past and provide for a up-to-date correctional system that operates within the guidelines of the new Constitution. It provides for mechanisms to prevent abuse of power and a fair and simple system of deciding when prisoners should be released. The Bill will ensure that prisoners receive opportunities for development, rehabilitation and economic reintegration into society. It also imposes duties on prisoners to behave within certain guidelines and defines punishment for contraventions of these guidelines.

Medical Schemes Bill

The intention of the Bill is to create a fair and just health system. It will outlaw the exclusion of applicants on the basis of their race, sex, age, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability and state of health. The Bill will also require medical schemes to provide a core set of minimum benefits to members, and to ensure full cover for benefits provided to members at public hospital level. It will further improve management of schemes and ensure that consumers are adequately protected.

National Empowerment Fund Bill

This Bill will secure the future of South Africa’s NGOs, provide for the promotion and facilitation of ownership of income generating funds by historically disadvantaged persons. It will empower them to continue the major role they play in the transformation of our society.

Prevention of Organised Crime Bill

This Bill provides a significant tool to Government in its ongoing fight against the tide of crime. It outlaws gangs and membership to gangs. The Police Services will be able to seize assets that were acquired through gang related activities. It will make our streets and neighbourhoods safer for communities.

National Sport and Recreation Bill

The Bill provides for the promotion and development of sport and recreation, measures that will correct the imbalances in sport and the promotion of equity and democracy in sport and recreation. It will also put mechanisms for dispute resolution in place.

Other Important Transformatory Legislation

The ANC also passed a number of other important transformatory Bills that affirm the course of change and democracy that was set in 1994. Among those are the Open Democracy, Municipal Structures, Municipal Demarcation, Sheriff’s and the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bills.

Conclusion

Most, if not all, of the crucial transformatory legislation that was passed by Parliament in this session was, like in the past, opposed by the NP, DP and the Freedom Front. It is evident that, in spite of the lip-service they pay to democracy, transformation and justice, they are still trapped in the past. They cannot derail transformation because of the ANC’s commitment to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Only the ANC has proven its capacity to fight for the poor and disadvantaged. And the ANC has shown that step by step it is making South Africa a better place for all its citizens.