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Another opposition walkout blocks Border Bill approval

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli

Published Jun 6, 2017

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The controversial Border Bill that has dogged Parliament for the last few weeks has once again failed to get the backing of opposition parties after they staged another walkout, blocking its approval.

The walkout by the opposition yesterday has led to failure by Parliament to approve the Border Management Authority Bill for the second time in the last three weeks.

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The opposition has refused to back the bill, saying it would take away the powers of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) to collect revenue at customs. The bill creates a single agency that would operate the country's borders.

Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli told the House when the BMA Bill was brought for adoption on May 11 it was postponed because there was no quorum. This was after the opposition staged a walkout because they objected to it and there was not a sufficient majority of 201 MPs to pass the bill.

However, soon before MPs began voting on it yesterday the DA, EFF and other opposition parties walked out again, leaving the ANC to muster the required simple majority. After the voting only 182 ANC MPs voted for it and six opposition members voted against it.

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This called for Tsenoli to take the bill off the agenda for rescheduling again.

“The numbers are not making it, so the decision is postponed again,” Tsenoli told the House.

After the matter was finalised opposition MPs returned to the House to continue with the other business of Parliament.

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The opposition argued that Sars would no longer be responsible for revenue collection at customs, as that function would now fall under the new agency.

But this was denied by Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.

She said in Parliament last month that the relevant provisions of the bill have addressed the concerns of the opposition parties. The BMA Bill was tabled by then-home Aafairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in 2015.

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His successor, Mkhize, has urged all parties to support the bill.

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