Speaker and hon members, the late Prof Kader Asmal once wrote:
Emerging from a racially divided and oppressive past, where basic human rights were violated in the extreme by an illegitimate government that failed to honour even the most basic tenets of the rule of law, South Africa crafted a Constitution that is unique and far reaching in its provisions. Amongst others, it established an array of constitutionally protected institutions created to strengthen democracy and to promote respect for human rights in our society.
The Bill before us this afternoon seeks to strengthen these constitutional institutions. The Bill addresses practical challenges that currently exist, and I know the Bill is welcomed by stakeholders.
Furthermore, the Bill is a constitutional requirement, as section 219(5) of our Constituttion provides:
National legislation must establish frameworks for determining the salaries, allowances and benefits of judges, the Public Protector, the Auditor-General, and members of any commission provided for in the Constitution, including the broadcasting authority referred to in section 192.
At present the various pieces of enabling legislation which govern each of the Chapter 9 Institutions and other commissions referred to in the Constitution, as well as the broadcasting authority, all provide for different procedures to be followed and for different functionaries to play a role in the determination of the remuneration, allowances, and other terms and conditions of employment of office-bearers of these institutions. The need has therefore arisen to eliminate these disparities and to create uniformity in this regard.
In order to achieve this, the Bill amends the various pieces of legislation to create a uniform procedure to be followed in respect of the determination of the salary, allowances, and benefits of office-bearers of these institutions. In terms of the new procedure, the Public Protector, the Deputy Public Protector, the Auditor-General and office-bearers of other Chapter 9 Institutions, including the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, will be entitled to such salary, allowances, and benefits as determined by the President, from time to time, by notice in the Government Gazette, after taking into consideration the recommendations of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office- Bearers, and after they have been approved by the National Assembly.
The independent commission must, when investigating or considering the salary, allowances, and benefits, consult with the responsible Cabinet member and the Cabinet member responsible for finance. The notice must be submitted to the National Assembly for approval before publication thereof. The National Assembly must, by resolution, approve the notice, whether in whole or in part. Members will note that this procedure is very similar to that followed in determining the salary, allowances, and benefits of judicial officers. Despite the provisions of section 219(5) of the Constitution, it should also be noted that this uniform procedure is not being made applicable to the Public Service Commission and the Financial and Fiscal Commission at this stage, as their inclusion would require a different tagging of the Bill, and thus these commissions will be provided for in the near future.
I would like to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, the hon Luwellyn Landers, and the members of the committee for the time, effort, and hard work they have put into considering and finalising this important piece of legislation. I have been informed of the amendments to the Bill which were proposed by the committee, and I am of the opinion that these amendments reflect the high standard that this committee has set in its approach to, and processing of, legislation.
In closing let me say that it is always prudent, whenever we discuss our Chapter 9 Institutions, and this House's oversight role, that we recall what the late former Chief Justice Pius Langa said in the Constitutional Court in the New National Party v The Government of the RSA case. He was discussing the Independent Electoral Commission and other Chapter 9 Institutions, but one could very well apply it to all constitutional institutions. He said:
The establishment of the Commission and the other institutions under Chapter 9 of the Constitution is a new development on the South African scene. They are the product of the new constitutionalism and their advent inevitably has important implications for other organs of state, who must understand and recognise their respective roles in the new constitutional arrangement.
He stressed that our Constitution places a constitutional obligation on organs of state to assist and protect our constitutional institutions in order to ensure their independence, impartiality, dignity, and effectiveness. We believe that this is exactly what this Bill will achieve, and I therefore commend the passing of the Determination of Remuneration of Office-Bearers of Independent Constitutional Institutions Laws Amendment Bill to the House. I thank you. [Applause.]