Statement by ACDP MP, Marie Sukers

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

ACDP objects to the adoption of the BELA Bill’s A-List

Sep 12, 2023

The African Christian Democratic Party objected to the adoption of the A-List of the BELA Bill after the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education raced through deliberations on the matrix of submissions, and the A-list of the Bill.

It is our view that we make a mockery of public submissions when proper consideration is not given to submissions when the proposed law is being deliberated on. Public representatives are duty bound to engage meaningfully with submissions made by the public and must ensure processes are effective to give effect to the principles of participatory democracy. The Committee was given documentation far too late for members to properly engage with the submissions or the report.

The haste with which this legislation is being barrelled through placed undue pressure on the capacity of parliament to process the 9 500 submissions and provide a comprehensive matrix of the public submissions. This inevitably led to further haste to conclude deliberations, in essence ensuring a rubber stamp of the proposed legislation by the governing party and the red overalls without showing a credence of open mindedness in engaging with very contentious clauses that undermines parental rights, and the enforcement by law of heavier sentences for school non-attendance. The implications have far-reaching consequences when this Bill becomes law both for the State and its ability to deliver what would become constitutional obligation.

Unless we are serious about compliance and adherence to due process as Members of Parliament, there will continue to be adverse judgements against parliament. We are not to rubber stamp the law as proposed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) or the Executive. Ours is to properly engage and ensure that we give adherence to what we have heard the public say and then apply our minds to the proposed legislation.

It is the contention of the ACDP that this process failed to meet this standard. It is as if we are on a freight train that barrels through whilst ignoring all the warning signals to slow down. It is also our contention that the BELA Bill has in effect been rejected by the majority of the public who made submissions.

We are of the view that the Committee gave the DBE a jail-free card for its failure to do research on homeschooling before it drafted this proposed legislation. It further gave the department the right to dictate to parliament – a total reversal of roles.

-ENDS-

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