Hon House Chairperson, the scientific perspective of the world, especially the living world, inexorably impresses on us a dynamic picture of the world of entities and structures involved in continuous and incessant change and in process without ceasing.
The proposed amendments of this Bill are of a technical nature which seeks to harmonise the operations of entities in the science and technology sector to strengthen oversight and governance. Considering the technical nature of the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill, the initial introduction at the end of the Fifth Parliament, did little justice on discussion and consultation.
Improper norms and standards for entities resulted in inconsistent, inadequate and unco-ordinated management of public entities with different requirements regulating the operations and governance.
On this basis this Bill seeks to harmonise the processes for termination of membership of boards of entities, to clarify the requirements for disqualification of persons from membership of boards and to provide for the appointment of external persons to committees of the boards.
Considering the recent flawed processes of public entity boards as highlighted in the state capture reports, these amendments are crucial to ensure that the Minister and chairpersons do not have autonomy over the boards and to ensure that any amendment holds constitutional muster.
The Western Cape government in its submission of the Bill expressed the importance of fit for purpose when appointed to the boards, the inclusion of an appeals committee and the chief executive officer, CEO's term of office. Clause 22 interpretation of being convicted of fraud, corruption or any other crime involving dishonesty, within a period of 10 years preceding the date of nomination can be left open for abuse. The time period should have been realistically considered. Also placing the responsibility of determining fit for purpose in the domain of the court of law is limiting and should have been added an additional insertion of "or a competent tribunal".
The DA was in favour of deleting any clauses that were contrary to the Public Finance Management Act and the insertion of the disclosure of conflict of interest clause.
All inputs from various stakeholders were brought into fruition in this Bill. A lethargic process to ensure enactment should be avoided as happened in the previous Parliament regarding this Bill.
Change is scientific; progress is ethical; change is indubitable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy. This Bill is addressing ethical standards which should not be of a controversial nature to hinder progress. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M N PAULSEN Ms C V KING