ANC pushes through controversial Bela Bill despite strong opposition

Grade R will be made compulsory.

Grade R will be made compulsory.

Published May 16, 2024


The ANC pushed through the resolution of the portfolio committee meeting to concur with amendments passed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to the Basic Education Laws Amendment (Bela) Bill despite opposition parties’ concerns.

On Wednesday the education portfolio committee met to consider the amendments and adopt a report for submission for the passing of the bill in the National Assembly after it was sent back by the NCOP.

The meeting spent much time on issues of procedure in the processing of the bill, with opposition parties complaining about the report on their concurrence to the NCOP amendments and adopting it the same day, among other things.

ACDP MP Steve Swart was booted out of the meeting after exchanges with committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba.

This was after Swart, who is not a member of the committee, intervened when Mbinqo-Gigaba interrupted his colleague Marie Sukers when she made a point about matters not considered by the NCOP.

DA MP Baxolile Nodada would later remark that Mbinqo-Gigaba was out of order for engaging in a screaming match, hurling insults and using unparliamentary language.

“The member is entitled to be part of this meeting. Calm down, use parliamentary language and apply rules correctly,” he said.

As the meeting went back and forth, EFF MP Ringo Madlingozi said the committee should protect the bill from becoming cold and not change the lives of children.

“The bill should see the light with changes it has gone through,” Madlingozi said.

This prompted Mbinqo-Gigaba to ask MPs whether they agreed to concur with the NCOP amendments.

The ANC and the EFF supported the NCOP amendments, while the DA and ACDP opposed the amendments.

ANC MP Nombuyiselo Adoons said the process has been fair and adhered to prescripts of law and rules of Parliament.

“Our children will get the same opportunities, the same education and be allowed to go to any school that they would want to learn from.

“We agree with these amendments so that the Bela Bill is signed into law,” Adoons said.

Nodada said the bill returned by the NCOP was prematurely put before the portfolio committee as a rubber stamp instead of going through the amendments.

“There are procedural flaws in dealing with this bill in the National Assembly and the NCOP. We are forced to adopt a report without discussion and issues being noted,” he said, adding the meeting was a box-ticking exercise.

When Nodada exceeded his three minutes’ speaking time, Mbinqo-Gigaba ordered he be booted out when he insisted on completing his address.

Madlingozi said the MPs were not led aimlessly as Nodada had claimed.

“Everything was done constitutionally and legally. We looked at the changes and of course we move ahead with this bill,” he said.

Sukers said they rejected concurrence with the NCOP amendments and that there was no urgency to pass the bill.

IFP MP Siphosethu Ngcobo said it was very unfortunate that there was already an item scheduled for consideration in the National Assembly when they were having discussions on Wednesday.

“I am waiving our right to speak,” Ngcobo said.

After the report was tabled, the DA and ACDP wanted their objections recorded and indicated that they would submit their minority reports.

Cape Times