BRIEFING TO PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ON THE OLDER PERSONS BILL – 12 NOVEMBER 2003
Growing old should be a period when a person’s contribution to society is acknowledged and valued. In poor communities old people make a valuable contribution to households as carers for children, people with disabilities and those affected and infected by HIV and Aids. This Bill seeks to maintain and increase the capacity of older persons to support themselves and to contribute to the well-being of those around them.
The process of policy and legislation development commenced during the International Year of Older Persons (1999). A group of stakeholders agreed to commemorate the International Year by developing programs that would make a difference in the lives of older persons. The programmes were to go beyond the International Year of Older Persons.
As part of the contribution to the International Year of Older Persons, stakeholders agreed on the development of legislation for older persons. Consequent to the agreement, a group of concerned individuals that included officials from National Departments, Provincial Departments, people from Non-Governmental Organisations, Faith-based Organisations, Community-based Organisations involved in the field of ageing as well as older persons themselves prepared a Draft Policy and a Draft Bill under the auspices of the national Department of Social Development. Numerous consultative processes took place at both national and provincial level with a variety of stakeholders.
A workshop intended for final consultation on the above-mentioned documents was cancelled when the issue of elder abuse was screened on an MNET programme in January 2001. The said broadcast led to the appointment of a Ministerial Committee to investigate the Abuse, Neglect and Ill-treatment of older persons. The Ministerial Committee came up with specific recommendations on their findings, which were incorporated, into the draft policy and legislative framework. A further delay in finalizing the legislation was experienced when the need to incorporate the international trends which were anticipated to be the outcome of the Second World Assembly on Ageing which was held in Madrid (Spain) was realized.
At the said Assembly global issues on Ageing were discussed, an international Plan of Action on Ageing was adopted and a political declaration was signed. It was felt that it would be proper to incorporate the international trends in the older persons legislation. Further consultative workshops and sessions then took place.
At the end of July 2002 revised documents of both the Draft Policy and Draft Bill on Older Persons were finalized and taken into consultative processes with the provincial departments of social development, national government departments, the Portfolio Committee and the Select Committee (NCOP). The Older Persons Bill is more or less the result of these consultative processes.
After these processes a further draft was prepared and submitted to Cabinet. At a meeting of Cabinet the Ministers of Social Development, Justice, Finance and Health discussed the draft Bill and proposed amendments to it. On 23 July 2003, after satisfactory consultations were conducted between the relevant Ministers, Cabinet approved that the Older Persons Bill be submitted to Parliament for consideration during the 2003 session of Parliament.
The draft Bill was then referred to the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser on
4 August 2003 for review and certification. The explanatory memorandum of the Bill was published in the Gazette of 13 August 2003 and arrangements were made for the translation of the Bill into Sesotho. During October 2003 the State Law Adviser certified the Bill and submitted the Bill to Parliament.
The main objects of this Bill are-
5. CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
National Government Departments and provincial departments were consulted during the process to develop the policy and draft older persons legislation. The aim was to ensure that the legislation assured collaborative service delivery to older persons
Consultative workshops were held with the Portfolio Committee and Select Committee during January and February 2003. The inputs from these workshops as well as inputs from the provinces, stakeholders and interested parties and some national departments have led to updated and refined drafts of the Policy document from which the Bill emanates.
The Department of Transport is in agreement with the proposals in the Bill. The Departments of Health, Housing, Home Affairs, Safety and Security and Water Affairs also participated and gave inputs on the proposed Bill.
The South African Law Commission was also involved and in turn referred the Bill to the magistrates for perusal comments.
6 THE FOLLOWING MAJOR CHANGES WERE MADE TO THE INITIAL DRAFT BILL:
The Bill has 4 chapters, which can be summarised as follows:
It is recommended that the Portfolio Committee
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