ACDP MP, Marie Sukers

Issued by the ACDP Parliamentary Media Office

South Africans have overwhelmingly rejected the BELA Bill

Apr 19, 2024

The Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill) has effectively been rejected by the public at large in both the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) public participation processes as stated on Wednesday this week by Parliament’s Legal Services during deliberations in the NCOP Committee which is currently dealing with the Bill.

The ACDP wishes to state that this legislation, in its current form, has largely been rejected by the majority of South Africans which includes parents, religious bodies, civil society, community leaders, home-schoolers and school governing bodies, as well as various other organisations. What is extremely clear is that the ANC, though its majority in the NA and NCOP, are dead set on ignoring the voices of the South African public and are pushing for this flawed Bill to become law.

It is the constitutional duty of public representatives, at all levels of government, to give due regard for the voices of the people – their objections and proposals – in public participation processes. What is becoming more and more clear is that ANC parliamentarians have completely forgotten their constitutional mandate and duty towards the people of this country.

The BELA Bill undermines the rights of parents and caregivers, and effectively renders them mere passengers in the lives of their children – especially when it comes to making decisions on teenage pregnancy. The policy of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) currently in effect in all provinces makes provision for a 12-year-old learner to have an abortion without their parents knowing or being consulted. Clause 39 of the Bill, which has been widely rejected by parents, aims to give the minister powers to make regulations which could/would make this policy law and as a result force a teacher to refer a learner for an abortion without their parents knowing about it. The ACDP, and the public, have consistently requested for the Minister to make these regulations public. As of now, we are all in the dark on what exactly these regulations could entail and by whom they have been developed. This simple request has not been heeded to, yet the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature has taken the lead in adopting this Bill despite the concerns of South Africans, and without any changes having been made to the Bill.

The question South Africans should ask of themselves is… in whose interest is the ANC governing? Are they governing in the interest of parents and children or are they governing in the interest of external stakeholders?

The ACDP wants to emphasise that even though the BELA Bill has unequivocally been rejected by the South African people in the public participation processes in both Houses of Parliament, and in all nine provinces, the ANC has decided to brush aside the voices of South Africans. As a parent, on 29 May 2024, do exactly what you have done with the BELA Bill and reject the ANC at the ballot box.

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