The Select Committee on Trade and International Relations has voted to delete clause 2.2 of the Foreign Services Bill and, thus, the bill will be returned to the National Assembly committee. Clause 2.2 deals with conflicting provisions and the superseding power of the Act on all applicable legislation to foreign service.

The Chairperson of the select committee, Mr Eddie Makue, asked why the clause was needed, as legislation should be applicable to all South Africans in the public service, whether they are at foreign missions or at home.

Committee Member Mr Mandla Rayi said there was no need for the clause, as there had not been inadequacies with other relevant pieces of legislation, such as the Public Service and the Labour Relations acts.

“As indicated before, this bill is intended to regulate what could be regulated through human resources (HR) standard operating measures. The department cannot come here and request to be assisted by the committee on HR matters, through a bill,” Mr Rayi said. Some of the things the Department of International Relations and Cooperation wanted to correct, he said, could be addressed through drafting a code of conduct.

Committee Member Mr Boingotlo Nthebe agreed, saying industrial harmony, which is what the bill intends to address, should not be regulated via a bill. Committee Member Mr Vusi Magwebu said conflict in legislation is inevitable, but could be addressed through the use of superseding provisions.

“If there is nothing to be lost by leaving the clause as it is, the committee may consider leaving the clause as it is. This will save time, and we won’t have to send the legislation back to the NA, a scenario which may result in unnecessary delays. If there is no prejudice, we should not delay the legislation,” he said.

Parliamentary Legal Advisor, Adv Nathi Mjenxane, said the purpose of including a superseding clause was merely meant to provide legal certainty. “If you want certainty in legislation, you include superseding clause. We stand by the legal opinion that we have written, but the decision to remove or leave the clause is the committee’s,” he said.

The Foreign Service Bill is intended to provide for the management, administration, accountability and functioning of a professional foreign service, but also provide operational requirements that are suitable and supportive of the operations of the foreign service.

The committee also adopted the Performers Protection Bill and the Copyright Amendment Bill. The National Gambling Amendment Bill was rejected by provinces.

Sibongile Maputi
20 March 2019