Chief whip Stone Sizani’s comments in the 2 February Sunday Times about the TCB did not translate into the hoped-for withdrawal of the Bill in the NCOP today. It was business as usual for the select committee – which scheduled four additional meetings about processing the TCB during February. The committee announced today that the North West and Mpumalanga have changed their negotiating mandates to now support the TCB, with amendments. Currently, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo have voted against the Bill. The Free State, Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga have voted in support of the Bill. KwaZulu Natal is still unclear. Significantly, no province has supported the Bill without amendments. Many provinces have amendments that are so far-reaching, they would effectively require rewriting large parts of the Bill.
The announcement about the change in the North West mandate came on the heels of the Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association letter to the NCOP listing formal complaints about the manner in which additional public hearings were conducted in the North West during November. This letter details the intimidation and silencing that people opposing the TCB faced in the North West hearings by people wearing ANC branded clothing and by the Chairperson of the hearing. This community input provides some context for understanding how the province with the strongest mandate rejecting the TCB could change its position on the Bill so radically.
The Free State was reflected as supporting the Bill, although public hearings about the Bill are being conducted there today and on Thursday. It is unclear how the province’s mandate could be discussed in Parliament at the same time as the public consultation process is under way, and how the community inputs from these hearings will be reflected in a mandate that has already been submitted.