The ANC has received sharp criticism from its ally at the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) to exclude all clauses for the protection of gender and homosexuals and lesbians from the Traditional Courts Bill currently in parliament stand.
Cosatu has called for the bill to be discontinued and at the same time to give time for consultation on the omitted clauses that the federation required to be restored. It stated that the Bill was fatally inadequate and simply unconstitutional and promised President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC and the Ministers for Justice and Women, the Speaker and Chief Whip in Parliament to now intervene as a matter of highest urgency .
Ironically, the legislation was previously rejected by the National Council of Provinces, precisely because it was not aimed at the rights of women and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning and Intersex community (LGBTQI).
Cosatu's parliamentary coordinator, Matthew Parks, went to ANC parliamentarians in the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to support the action to remove the clause on the protection of men and women. Parks called the move an unbelievable block of facilities to protect women and people against the LGBTQI community. Parks became hard on the ANC members of parliament who served in the study group of the ruling party on justice and correctional services.
The bill initially contained crucial concessions, mainly proposed by civil society organizations during their interaction with the Ministry of Justice, which protected women and LGBTQI people, including the right to opt out of traditional courts and protect the rights of both men as women who did not want a traditional court that was forced upon them. The authorities also demanded that traditional courts be gender-dependent and that such courts should not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation.
The law also provided that the Ministry of Justice would play a supervisory role.
"It is simply shocking and baffling that the ANC MPs in the PC (portfolio committee) have decided to get rid of traditional leaders and remove all clauses that try to protect women and LGBTQI people against the law, "Parks said.
He said the concessions were made by the Ministry of Justice after extensive contacts with civil society. The previous version of the bill was overwhelmingly rejected by the NCOP because it did not deal with these rights. "What it boils down to is that we are negotiating in bad faith with the ANC justice committee study group," Parks said.
According to Cosatu, the concessions, although not perfect, were progressive and crucial to protect women and the LGBTQI community. The federation expressed its disappointment that such important human rights provisions have now been removed by the ANC members of parliament at the urging of traditional leaders.
"Cosatu calls on the parliament to stop this bill and we also call on the ANC to reject the deletion of these human rights and gender equality clauses. These clauses must be reintroduced without errors or compromises, "Parks said.
Cosatu would not accept the adoption of such an anti-gender and human rights law and would ensure that the parliament rejected the bill. "It is a shocking indictment of the ANC Justice Committee study group to do so at the insistence of some traditional leaders and to ignore the call of civil society.The ANC will be misleading to believe that the votes of a few hundred traditional leaders are more important than the voices of millions of women living in traditional areas, "Parks said.
But Mathole Motshekga, chairman of the committee, rejected the suggestion that the bill excluded gender and LGBTQI rights. "No one has to fear because everyone is covered by the legislation, but we do not have to repeat what is in the constitution." There is no law that is above the constitution, it does not mean that rights that are not in the bill not being treated, because the one who governs these (traditional) courts will operate within the scope of the constitution, "said Motshekga.
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