Legal blunder jeopardises Children’s Amendment Bill

Issued by Bridget Masango MP – DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
18 May 2023 in News

A legal blunder during a parliamentary portfolio committee on social development meeting in May 2022 might have jeopardised the passing of the committee’s Children’s Amendment Bill.

It now seems that legal advice to reject certain clauses instead of separating the Bill into two could imperil the Bill as there may not be enough time to consolidate the remaining clauses of the Bill and pass before the 6th Parliament comes to an end.

This effectively means legislation on unmarried fathers’ rights; baby savers; addressing the designation and functions of the National Child Protection Register; regulations on the care of abandoned and orphaned children; regulations on medical testing of children; addressing care and protection proceedings; matters relating to adoption and inter-country adoption; child abduction matters; matters relating to surrogate motherhood; and an opportunity to align the Children’s Act with other pieces of legislation such as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act and the Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Act will not be attended to.

The committee will have to wait until the 7th Parliament to introduce and pass a Bill addressing these matters– should the next committee deem these serious issues worthy to be legislatively addressed. Should this be the case, the entire legislative process would have to start from scratch, wasting even more precious time and parliamentary resources.

The DA consistently expressed concern about the exclusion of important clauses from the processing of the Children Amendment Bill. These concerns were affirmed by the many civil society organisations and individuals who voiced their concerns. Last year, the DA and other opposition parties objected and walked out of a committee meeting with the Department of Social Development (DSD) when ANC members of the committee, bolstered by their majority, chose to disregard a committee resolution to retain Clause 21 in the Bill.

The ANC’s attitude of not caring for the most vulnerable of society, the children, made them prioritise political expediency and box ticking over the care and protection of children.