Parliament, Wednesday 2 December 2020 – The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has, during its virtual plenary today, passed four bills namely the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, Customary Initiation Bill, Traditional Courts Bill and Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill.

The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill amends the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998. The bill seeks to amongst others to prevent councilors who were removed from office for breaching the Code of Conduct and from becoming councilors for a period of two years; to require the municipal manager to inform the MEC for local government in the province; and provide that the MEC call and set the date for by-elections.

The Customary Initiation Bill seeks to provide for the effective regulation of customary initiation practices; to provide for the establishment of a National Initiation Oversight Committee and Provincial Initiation Coordinating Committee and their functions; to provide for the responsibilities, roles and functions of the various role-players involved in initiation practices as such or in the governance aspects thereof and to provide for the effective regulation of initiation schools.

The Traditional Courts Bill seeks to provide a uniform legislative framework for the structure and functioning of traditional courts, in line with constitutional imperatives and values; and to provide for matters connected therewith. The Bill deals with cultural matters, indigenous law and traditional leadership which are all functional areas of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence listed in Part A of Schedule 4 to the Constitution.

The Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill, 2019 (the Bill), aims to amend the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998,(the RCMA) by further regulating the proprietary consequences of customary marriages entered into before the commencement of the RCMA in order to bring the provisions of the Act in line with the judgments of the Constitutional Court which the Court found to be constitutionally invalid because they discriminate unfairly against certain women in customary marriages. The effect of this amendment is that all customary marriages whether entered into after or before the commencement of the RCMA will be marriages in community of property and of profit and loss unless the spouses decide to exclude that by means of an ante-nuptial contract.

The NCOP passed all four Bills with amendments. The Bills will now be referred to the National Assembly for consideration.

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