GCIS goof-up: Traditional Courts Bill not withdrawn

2012-12-06 00:00

THE Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) blundered in reporting that the contentious Traditional Courts Bill was being withdrawn.

After the report was published on the GCIS website on November 29, lobby groups released statements this week expressing relief that the government had decided to withdraw the bill.

The report stated erroneously: “The controversial Traditional Courts Bill is to be withdrawn and will not be brought before Parliament any time soon. This was a unanimous decision taken by Parliament’s select committee on security and constitutional development at its last meeting of the year.”

The Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) released a statement rubbishing the report and criticised GCIS, saying it had reported misleading and incorrect information.

“The bill has not been withdrawn and is currently being debated by the provinces. The provincial mandates on the bill are due to be debated by the select committee next year. That the bill remains firmly on the agenda has also been confirmed by the select committee’s secretary,” reads the statement.

The alliance said its members were present at the select committee meeting on November 28, to which the false reports referred.

“We can confirm that the matter of the bill’s withdrawal was neither discussed nor decided upon”.

Sizani Ngubane of the Rural Women’s Movement, a member of the alliance, said the report spread misinformation. “This underhanded move is precisely because rural people have consistently opposed this bill”.

The chairperson of the select committee, Tjetha Mofokeng, said the bill had not been scrapped or withdrawn. “It is currently being debated in provinces … any such information that it has been scrapped is incorrect.”

GCIS acting CEO Phumla Williams conceded that the report on its website was incorrect and said it was correcting it.

“Our journalist got it wrong and we are busy correcting it. A correct version will be put up [on our website] soon,” said Williams.

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