DA strongly objects to PEPUDA Bill - Glynnis Breytenbach

Current definition of ‘discrimination’ is simply too broad, legislation wide opened to abuse

DA to submit objections to PEPUDA Bill

18 June 2021

The DA strongly objects to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Amendment Bill (PEPUDA) which seeks to amend the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000.

We have been invited to make comments on this Bill by 30 June 2021 and will use this as an opportunity to object to the Bill. After an in-depth study of the Bill, the DA has the following fundamental problems with it:

Expanded Definition and Removal of Requirement of Intent

The DA is concerned that the amendments to the definition of ‘discrimination’ and the removal of ‘intent’ will have unforeseen far-reaching consequences whereby individuals might break the law either without knowing they have done so, or without ever intending to do so. The current definition of ‘discrimination’ in PEPUDA is simply too broad and will overwhelm South Africa’s already overburdened justice system.

Vicarious Liability

The introduction of vicarious liability in clause 2 will put an unreasonable responsibility on employers to police the actions of their employees, even during non-working hours. Employers should not be unreasonably held liable for the discriminating behaviour of their employees. In a country where the numbers of unemployment grows daily, government should not be introducing legislation that will discourage employment in any way or form.

Obligations Placed on Private Institutions

Clause 9 of PEPUDA gives government the power to prescribe how NGOs, community-based organisations, and traditional organisations promote equality in their dealings with other organisations and in their public activities. Ironically, this clause will give government ample opportunity to discriminate against any organisation when prescribing their code of equality. This may result in a selective and politically motivated application of codes upon organisations which the State may find undesirable.

PEPUDA as it now stands, will leave the system open to all types of abuse, not least from government whose recent history has proven that any loophole will be exploited to advantage the politically connected, the corrupt and their cadres.

The DA will vehemently oppose this Bill at every opportunity and encourages all South Africans to do the same when the opportunity for public participation arrives.

Statement issued by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP - DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, 18 June 2021