Cape Town - In a marathon session the National Assembly on Tuesday passed key legislation dealing with infrastructure development, reopening land claims, credit matters and private security companies, clearing the decks for Wednesday’s Budget and a lengthy pre-election recess from mid-March.
Election politicking was the undercurrent throughout debates, with opposition parties taking digs at ANC MPs for pushing through bad laws.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard described the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill as “seat of the pants, help me win the election legislation”.
But in the debate on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which reopens claims for those who missed the December 1998 deadline, rural development committee chairman and ANC MP Jerry Thibedi hit back: “There is only one weapon they can use to discipline those opposed to progress: May 7. If they vote for the parties which oppose this legislation, they can kiss transformation goodbye.”
Proceedings were drawn out as the DA called for, and was defeated in, votes on the Infrastructure Development Bill, Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill, and the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill.
Earlier, during a tense debate on that land rights amendment draft law, the Freedom Front Plus reminded MPs that South Africa’s food security could be threatened by uncertainty over land claims if the claims window was re-opened for a further five years.
But ANC MP Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela said: “We, as black people, are crying for our land which was taken by the whites”.
Tempers were frazzled in the debate over the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill, when Kohler Barnard was accused by her police committee chairwoman, ANC MP Annelize van Wyk, of “lying” over the last-minute introduction of the controversial limitation of foreign ownership in private security companies to 49 percent.
Van Wyk eventually withdrew her comments, and Kohler Barnard went on to warn the Bill would result in job losses as companies withdrew their investment.
Other opposition MPs indicated they had supported the Bill until the last-minute introduction of the 51 percent South African ownership criterion.
Turning to the police minister, IFP MP Velaphi Ndlovu asked: “Are you going to look after the JSE?” FF+ MP Pieter Groenewald cautioned, “this law will leave legislators red faced” and argued “the threat to state security are the criminals in the police… ”
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa maintained that transformation of the private security industry was a non-negotiable, dismissing “the scarecrow of disinvestment” because profit was the driving motive for security companies’ investment.
After a comparatively tame debate, the Infrastructure Development Bill was passed as all parties but the DA supported the draft law.
“The DA cannot support this Nkandla Bill as it stands,” said DA economic development spokesman Sej Motau, who cautioned this law “is opening up the space for another Nkandlagate scandal” when more oversight and transparency was needed.