NA passes the BELA Bill - Parliament

Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill also passed

NA passes the BELA Bill and the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill

26 October 2023

The National Assembly (NA) approved two important bills during its hybrid plenary session this afternoon – the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill and the Upstream Petroleum Development Bill.

Among the amendments in the BELA Bill that sparked much public interest and input, is a provision that Grade R will now be the new compulsory school-starting age and parents who fail to enrol their children for grade R will be formally penalised.

The Bill further confirms that corporal punishment is no longer allowed at school and that those found guilty of such offences must be penalised.

In terms of language policy, the Bill provides that a school governing body will now be required to submit the language policy of a public school and any amendment thereof to the head of department for approval. The language policy must also take into consideration the language needs of the broader community. The Bill further provides that the South African Sign Language has the status of an official language for purposes of learning at a public school.

The BELA Bill also provides that no persons may bring liquor onto the school premises, or have liquor in his or her possession, consume or sell liquor on public school premises, or during any public school activity unless permission has been sought from the Head of Department, and then only under strict conditions.

Before tabling its report today, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education held extensive public hearings in all the nine provinces, received written submissions, and held public hearings at Parliament for interested parties and organisations to make further oral submissions.

Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill

Meanwhile, the NA also passed the Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill, which was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy on 1 July 2021.

The Bill seeks to separate petroleum provision from mineral provision, as currently provided for in the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (Act No. 28 of 2002). The Bill, among others, is aimed at economic transformation of the industry and seeks to enhance the participation of black persons and the state in the upstream petroleum industry. It includes provisions that promote petroleum resource development in a sustainable and equitable manner for the benefit of all South Africans.

Leading up to the NA passing the Bill today, the committee held public hearings in all provinces and consulted extensively with the petroleum industry.

Both committees recommended that the NA approve the two bills which will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

Issued by Moloto Mothapo, Media Officer, Parliament, 26 October 2023