The African Christian Democratic Party appeals to all South Africans, particularly parents of school-going children, to come out in their numbers and to have their say on the controversial Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill) – as the Gauteng leg of public hearings kicked off yesterday.
The ACDP is opposed to the BELA Bill and wants to caution people against a dangerous clause hidden in the Bill that most Christians, people of faith and of good will, are not aware of. The proposed Clause 41 allows for the Minister to make regulations concerning learner pregnancy. These regulations would be made in terms of the ‘Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy’, and to understand what the Minister will be empowered to do you have to study the policy.
What the Minister is asking for now is for the power to make regulations that will turn this abortion policy into an abortion law. Once these regulations have the force of law, teachers, SGB members, and parents, will be breaking the law if they do not obey these regulations. Not only does the Minister want the power to make regulations, but she also wants the power to send any person to jail for defying them. If the BELA Bill passes unamended the second part of Clause 41 will give the minister the power to create offences that carry fines and jail sentences of up to six months. These regulations could also force teachers to refer learners from as young as the age of 12 for abortions, and all forms of contraception, and compel them to keep this secret from their parents.
Last month, the ACDP approached the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and put forward a proposal in a bid to have increased access for South Africans, in the form virtual hearings, in addition to the public hearings for the BELA Bill. A proposal which was sadly rejected by the ANC majority on the Committee. But we will not be stopped so easily.
This Bill is part and parcel of an ongoing marginalisation of parents and the family structure. To this government, parents are seen as ‘not important’. Parents need to be front and centre in all matters that affect their children.
The ACDP pleads with parents, SGBs, and churches to attend these hearings to make submissions in rejection of the Bill to secure the rights of families.
The public hearings continue today (Saturday) at Johannesburg City Hall from 12:00 to 16:00 and will then move to Tsakane Community Hall in Brakpan tomorrow (Sunday) from 12:00 to 16:00. On Monday the hearings will take place in Mpumalanga at Sasol Community Recreation Centre in the Gert Sibande District from 12:00 to 16:00.