The DA condemns the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development’s adoption of a motion that the Children’s Amendment Bill (B19-2023) is not desirable.
While both the committee as well as the Department of Social Development ostensibly supported the content of the DA’s private members bill, where they admitted that there are shortcomings and gaps in the law that have left children in danger, they still chose to vote against the best interest of children – specifically children in unregulated micro-partial care homes that provides care of six or less children.
Even more bizarrely, ANC Members raised that they had not had the chance to see public comments on the Bill and so they would not be able to vote it as desirable. However, as Parliamentary Legal Services and the DA correctly put it, a further hearing could simply have been scheduled to go through public comments – but the ANC refused this simple solution.
It must be emphasised that all public comments were submitted to the Speaker, who is an ANC Member, the Committee is chaired by an ANC Member, and the programme for the committees is determined by the ANC by means of their majority. It is them that have the power to place the public comments on the agenda and to say that it was never done is deceitful and disingenuous.
The DA even suggested that due to the lack of time left in the term the Bill stand over to the new term next year. Despite agreements from the ANC that there was no time and that this could be a solution, there was confusion, and they failed to understand the difference between voting a Bill as undesirable and still deferring it. It is one or the other.
The consequences now is that deplorable conditions in micro-partial care facilities will remain, with children being at risk of inhabitable conditions, untrained carers, potential abuse and being placed in facilities without norms and standards being required – such as running water and toilets.
The truth of the matter is that the ANC did not vote against the Children’s Amendment Bill because they wanted to create a more comprehensive Bill, or because of the short time frame to process the Bill, or even the human resources implications of the Bill. They rejected it because the DA offered the solutions to them on a platter, and their pride and ego trumped the protection of children. Selfishly, to them, its an ANC Bill or nothing – no matter how great the solution.
The DA will continue to advocate for the well-being and safety of children. After the 2024 elections, The DA will re-introduce this Bill back into Parliament and ensure the protection of all children as is enshrined in the Constitution.
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