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The former President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, has told the Speakers’ Forum that the High Level Panel examining the impact of legislation since 1994 will table the final report at the end of July.

“We are at a stage now where we are discussing the tones of information received during the engagements with South Africans. The task facing the Panel is to ensure that all the information is included in the report,” Mr Motlanthe said.

The Panel was established by the Speakers Forum to look at the impact of legislation on ordinary South Africans in the past 20 years.

“The Panel took the task given to it by the Speakers’ Forum very seriously. We worked out an approach of tackling this mammoth task of looking into legislation by dividing it into four focus areas: inequality and unemployment, redistribution of wealth, land redistribution and tenure of security, as well as social cohesion,” he said.

“Then we had to put together all relevant legislation that spoke to the four areas. It was decided that plenary sessions would not be helpful, and the group divided itself into three working groups focusing on land question, social cohesion and the other two issues combined,” he said.

Mr Motlanthe took the Speakers Forum through the methodology that the Panel adopted and indicated that although it had started as a 17-member panel, it now had 15 members.

The Panel had invited written submissions from various sectors and individuals, but also organised round-tables on specific aspects of the focus areas of the working groups.

“Over and above these we also held outreach programmes through the support we got from provincial legislatures. The outreach programmes yielded good results as people were able to share with us their living experiences of how legislation had impacted on their lives,” Mr Motlanthe said.

He said people were encouraged to write up their thoughts and submit them to the Panel support staff. The Panel had discussions with Microsoft for assistance with translation of all submissions and the company agreed to use its technology to achieve this.

“We are now getting to the process of interpreting the data in earnest. It is important that we share with the Speakers’ Forum what has been coming out of the provinces,” Mr Motlanthe said.

He said in all provinces people indicated that they do not believe that traditional leaders are owners of the land.

“This would create major problems for the Forum. If the land question is not addressed properly, people with no titles will end up with titles and that will have an impact on the role of traditional leaders in rural areas,” Mr Motlanthe said.

He also said there was a problem with land-use management systems in rural areas. Sociologists confirm the most economically depressed parts of our country mirror the former homelands of the Republic.

The Speaker of the National Assembly had earlier said that the meeting was timely in that it was considering ways of improving services for the people.

“This should be about policy engagement and whether it is necessary to revisit policy, mechanisms that are in place and legislation that has been passed in the past 20 years, and whether these have had a desirable impact in creating a better life for our people. If not why not?” she said.

Sibongile Maputi and Mlindi Mpindi
20 April 2017