Tuesday, October 29, 2013

MLRA Amendment Bill: Wrong Tag

Feike has been informed that Parliament's Joint Tagging Committee has confirmed that the MLRA Amendment Bill introduced by the Fisheries Minister was incorrectly tagged as a Section 75 Bill. As Feike has repeatedly stated since the first draft Bill was published for comment, the Bill ought to have been tagged as a Section 76 Bill. And now the Tagging Committee agrees. 

A Section 76 Bill, once passed by the National Assembly, must then formally be submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for further deliberation, which will initially be undertaken by the Select Committee for Agriculture (the equivalent of the Fisheries Portfolio Committee in the National Assembly). The NCOP can adopt the Amendment Bill without any amendment, in which case the Bill will be forwarded to the President for assent and signature. The NCOP can also reject the Bill or propose amendments. In such cases, Section 76 of the Constitution makes provision for very specific procedures to be adhered to. 

Suffice-it-to-say, you cannot expect to pass a Bill by December, when the Minister introduces an amendment Bill in September that is wrongly tagged and is not underpinned by any ecological, social and economic research to support the proposed legislative amendments. We have said this before but we will say it again. To simply support the wholesale deletion of "subsistence fishers" and then to support the allocation of fishing rights to co-operatives despite the history of destruction and failure caused by previous fishing co-operatives, is nothing short of reckless law-making. 

There are now 7 days of the current sitting of Parliament left. The Amendment Bill cannot (yes we repeat this for the umpteenth time) be passed by both the NA and NCOP (even without any amendment) before expiry of this current sitting of Parliament. 

Which of course takes us back to the fatally flawed fishing rights allocation process which unlawfully made provision in the (also unlawfully) adopted fishing policies that co-operatives can hold fishing rights. Those fishing policies of course will always pre-date any legislative amendment to the MLRA allowing for co-operatives to hold fishing rights, thus rendering the invitation to co-operatives to apply for fishing rights unlawful. Its an awful snow-balling effect which renders the entire 2013 FRAP a right royal unlawful mess and susceptible to judicial review on a number of fronts. 

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