Ramaphosa urged Parliament to deal with gender-based violence bills, but MPs know nothing about it

Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise
Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise
Jan Gerber/News24
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa urged MPs to expedite legislation dealing with gender-based violence.
  • However, his administration hasn't put any such bills before Parliament.
  • Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise said she takes exception and is ready to "bare claws, nicely".

President Cyril Ramaphosa urged parliamentarians to process "without delay" legislation to curb gender-based violence.

However, his administration hasn't placed any bills in this regard before Parliament.

Subsequently, Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise wants to "beat up", metaphorically speaking, the ministers responsible.

Wednesday evening, as he addressed the nation, Ramaphosa said: "Legislative amendments have been prepared around, among other things, minimum sentencing in cases of gender-based violence, bail conditions for suspects, and greater protection for women who are victims of intimate partner violence.

"I urge our lawmakers in Parliament to process them without delay."

READ MORE | 'They are not statistics': Ramaphosa addresses recent spate of GBV incidents

During Thursday morning's meeting of the National Assembly Programming Committee, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone expressed her "deep concern", as she and her staff searched on Wednesday evening, but couldn't find any legislation dealing with gender-based violence before Parliament.

"I don't understand why Parliament is accused of holding up the process," she said. "There is nothing for us to hold up.

"Is there a backlog we don't know about?"

Secretary to the National Assembly, Masibulele Xaso, said according to his information, the "bills possibly are with Cabinet".

Parliamentary legal advisor Charmaine van der Merwe said last month Justice Minister Ronald Lamola informed the Portfolio Committee on Justice that his department is working on three bills related to gender-based violence.

"These bills are still with the department."

Modise said: 

It simply means, Miss Mazzone, we must crack the whip. If we are being beaten for the bills we have not yet received, we have to follow the trail and we've got to beat up somebody who is holding the bills so that the air is cleared.

'Being blamed for things I do not know'

Mazzone said: "I have a fear the president is under the impression ministers sent the bills to Parliament."

She said as a South African woman, she would do everything possible to get bills dealing with gender-based violence passed.

She suggested Modise write to Ramaphosa on the matter, explaining that the bills aren't before Parliament.

Modise said she will go one step further and follow up with the ministers.

"We should begin to bare our claws, nicely," she said.

"I take strong exception to being blamed for things I do not know [about]."

Ramaphosa's parliamentary councillor, ANC MP Gerhard Koornhof, said Ramaphosa never said there are bills before Parliament.

'Empty words'

EFF MP Veronica Mente said Parliament shouldn't go into recess at the end of the month as planned until it had a debate on gender-based violence.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina agreed.

"We can't go to our constituencies without Parliament having a voice and condemn all these acts of gender-based violence and femicide," Majodina said.

In a statement released after the meeting, Mazzone said the DA's private member's bill is close to finalisation and will be tabled before Parliament soon.

"If passed, this bill will replace the current Domestic Violence Act and the Protection from Harassment Act with legislation better suited to protect victims of interpersonal and domestic abuse," she said in the statement.

"Unless the president steps in and ensures that his ministers draft bills, his statement last night will only be empty words to try and appease the anger simmering in communities, but will ultimately not stem the GBV tide."

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