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ANC Pushes Controversial BELA Bill Through Parliament Despite Opposition

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The Basic Education and Language Amendment (BELA) Bill, which has sparked significant controversy, was hastily passed by the National Assembly despite strong opposition from various parties and civil society groups. The bill had been under intense scrutiny due to its implications on language policies at schools, regulations concerning homeschooling, and provisions regarding learners’ access to medical treatment without parental consent.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had made some amendments to the BELA Bill before sending it back to the Basic Education Committee. However, the process was criticized for its lack of thorough engagement and transparency, leading to discontent among opposition members.

In a surprising turn of events, the committee swiftly tabled their report on the BELA Bill in the National Assembly, prompting a vote on its passage. Despite objections raised by several parties, the bill secured enough votes to move forward in the legislative process.

House Chairperson Grace Boroto announced the outcome of the vote, indicating that the bill received a significant number of ‘Yes’ votes, paving the way for it to be forwarded to President Cyril Ramaphosa for final assent.

Simultaneously, the NCOP formally passed the Marine Pollution Amendment Bill, signaling a milestone in efforts to enhance regulations aimed at protecting South Africa’s oceans from ship-related pollution. The bill aligns with the MARPOL Convention, a global standard for preventing pollution from ships.

Chairperson of the Select Committee on Transport, Public Service, and Administration, Public Works, and Infrastructure, Kenneth Mmoiemang, emphasized the importance of the proposed changes in the Marine Pollution Amendment Bill, particularly in addressing issues related to sewerage treatment from ships and energy-efficient management practices.

The speedy progression of the BELA Bill through Parliament has raised concerns about the thoroughness of the legislative process and the extent of public engagement on critical education matters. The opposition remains steadfast in their stance against certain provisions in the bill, underscoring the ongoing debate surrounding education policy in South Africa.

Rachel Adams

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