Can a small party like the ACDP make a difference? ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley lists a number of notable achievements of the party affecting the lives of South Africans in many different spheres.
“The voice of the people of South Africa must not only be heard but be seen to be heard — we in the ACDP have heard you and are grateful for the opportunity to work with you in making South Africa an even more caring and humane society.” — Cheryllyn Dudley
The ACDP has over the years worked on legislation and oversight of the implementation of that legislation — challenging offending clauses and arguing for restraint and creative thinking on issues in many areas, including basic and higher education, safety and security, trade and industry, agriculture and land, minerals and energy, international relations, health, social development, finance, justice and constitutional affairs, private members’ bills, water and environmental affairs, public enterprises and much more.
Our aim is to help build a strong, healthy nation based on solid economic and social principles and values which translate into good governance, equality, respect and human dignity. We aim to produce leaders of substance and integrity who place people first as we serve this nation.
Here is an overview of ACDP successes over the past 24 years:
Secular state — at the time of the drafting of the constitution in 1994, the ACDP was key in flagging issues that would impact negatively on freedom of religion in the years to follow. We were instrumental in helping mobilise the country on many issues including the matter of declaring South Africa a secular state. The ACDP succeeded in having a clause removed from the draft constitution which has made it possible for our courts to give freedom of religion its relevant status in judgements.
Home schooling — the ACDP was instrumental in ensuring that parliament had access to relevant information arguing for home schooling and ensuring that home education is protected by the constitution. This was critical as the prevailing sentiment at the time was one of suspicion that home schooling would be used to undermine nation building and promote segregation.
Mother to child transmission (MTCT) of HIV — the ACDP was active in ensuring access to antiretrovirals, especially prophylactics for rape survivors. In the early days we were at times the only voice in parliament calling for access to Nevirapin and for the roll-out of a nationwide programme to provide ARV’s to mothers and babies at birth to prevent the transmission of HIV from the mother to her child. Many years later this became a reality.
Choice on termination of pregnancy (CTOP) — the ACDP has consistently challenged the legalisation of abortion on demand — keeping the issue on the agenda of parliament over the years in committee hearings and debates in the National Assembly. The ACDP has also tabled three private members bills in this regard — firstly proposing a constitutional amendment to provide for the right to life of the unborn child, secondly a proposal to amend the CTOP Act to provide for informed choice for women through mandatory counselling, and thirdly the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament in December 2017.
The 2017 bill proposed:
- ultrasound images of a foetus be shown before all abortions and mandatory counselling before and after abortions to ensure women have the information and support they need. Also to provide education as many abortions are repeat abortions.
- that for abortions between 13 and 20 weeks, a social worker and a doctor must agree regarding grounds of socioeconomic circumstances on the premise that social workers are better placed than doctors to advise women in crises circumstances and ensure that women do not feel they have no option but to terminate when facing challenging financial and/or personal circumstances.
- that a clause permitting a viable healthy foetus to be aborted in the third trimester due to “risk of injury to the foetus” be removed as there is a risk of injury to every foetus during the birthing process. The ACDP held that this clause was vague and made a mockery of the clear intention of the legislators to provide increased protection of the foetus as the pregnancy progressed.
Over the years varying degrees of increased support for improving CTOP legislation and a willingness on the part of some to engage on the issue has been encouraging. Sadly no parties chose to officially support the intention of the bills but the department did agree to look at ensuring through clinical guidelines that the grounds for termination in the third trimester could not be abused. The ACDP will follow up on this. The committee also added the words “at this time” to the rejection of the bill which was encouraging.
Children’s Act re spanking — the ACDP was directly responsible for both delaying a decision on this issue and eventually getting a clause “outlawing reasonable chastisement” removed from the bill to amend the
Children’s Act. This ensured that parents disciplining children in line with biblical guidelines and churches teaching on the subject were not acting unlawfully. This was just one of many attacks on the Church and as more churches have realised the impact of the ACDP in holding this ground they have taken a more active role to better understand and protect religious freedom.
Street children –– the ACDP succeeded in making it compulsory for authorities to respond to reports re street children and to prioritise their safety. Sadly, due to lack of resources this has proved difficult to implement but when you request social and police help for these vulnerable children the law is on your side.
Early childhood development (ECD) — the ACDP succeeded in making it compulsory for provinces to prioritise spending on ECD in disadvantaged communities (Children’s Act). This was a unique victory as technically, a national act cannot dictate to provinces re priorities in spending.
Smoking in cars with children — this was made illegal as a result of an ACDP proposal which has helped protect more children from the negative effects of secondary inhalation.
Outcomes based education (OBE) — The ACDP has, over many years, been alone and consistent voice arguing against OBE as a policy and pointing out its failings. The Minister of Education acknowledged these shortcomings and eventually dismantled OBE, addressing the very issues highlighted by the ACDP.
Sex education in schools and loveLife campaigns — at a time when sex education in schools and government- funded public campaigns were getting outrageously inappropriate the ACDP mobilised SA in opposing encouraging sexual experimentation by youth through publications, billboards and media campaigns. We also challenged wording in the sex education curriculum in schools and succeeded in getting the relevant attention and scrutiny in this regard. The ACDP was directly responsible for putting the breaks on the loveLife campaign and our efforts encouraged others in the majority party to continue vigilant oversight of loveLife activities and tight budgets.
Religion in education — the ACDP were the first to oppose former Education Minister Kader Asmal’s proposals to remove religion from schools and achieved countrywide awareness.
Euthanasia — the ACDP took up the challenge in the early years of initiating debates and arguing against proposals for an End of Life Bill which would provide for euthanasia. We succeeded in getting the End of Life legislation put on hold and have continued to advise against its resurrection in a country where the burden of disease is so great and quality of life is so relative. To date it has not been revived.
Decriminalisation of prostitution — This has been on the agenda of many and the ACDP has argued in the National Assembly, in hearings and in public debates for existing legislation to remain in place and for law
enforcement to focus on those paying for services. These arguments have succeeded to date but continue to be an ACDP priority with regard to violence against women and children.
Pornography — the ACDP has opposed the legalisation of and easy access to adult pornography throughout our 24 years in office in parliament. On three occasions last year alone the ACDP addressed the National Assembly on the harms of pornography to society, especially for vulnerable groups like women and children. The ACDP also opposed the passing of the Films and Publications Bill this year, calling for a full-scale investigation into the public health costs and social consequences of adults’ use of and exposure to pornography for the whole of South African society – before legalising mass online distribution of pornography in South Africa. The ACDP challenged MPs, saying they are prioritising the sexual entertainment of men over the safety of women and children. Failing to debate or consider scientific facts places women and children at greater risk of becoming victims of sexual violence. We also sponsored a petition to parliament in this regard.
Trafficking — The ACDP has consistently called on government, through motions, questions and debates, for legislation to help stop human trafficking and we have worked successfully on legislation to ensure it would be relevant and present minimal unintended consequences.
Environmental issues and GMOs — the ACDP has been vocal on environmental issues, including sustainable energy, nuclear power, pesticides and GMOs — and sponsored a petition to parliament which resulted in hearings taking place in relevant committees on the risks associated with GMOs and herbicides.
The animal protection bills — This is an ACDP initiative and is presently before parliament. It is primarily focused on banning testing on animals for cosmetic purposes. Although the people of South Africa, and our highest
courts, recognise the plight of animals and the need to protect them from abuses there is inadequate protection in law for this purpose and the ACDP took up the challenge in this regard. The concern is that while no cosmetic manufacturers in South Africa confess to testing on animals, it is likely that as other countries shut their doors, South Africa will be seen as a destination due to no restrictions in law. The Committee on Agriculture expects to be briefed on the bill during Aug/Sept 2018.
Equality’s not the enemy of freedom of religion — the ACDP successfully argued for a change to a definition in the Woman’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill to ensure that churches and NGOs were not included in onerous and unreasonable demands for leadership and gender quotas. We had worked with others to ensure submissions in the committee hearings had maximum impact and provided the backup we would need to argue convincingly for the change to be agreed to. It was.
Media freedom — on many occasions the ACDP has been key in protecting media freedom in South Africa. The ACDP has also played a pivotal role as part of the parliamentary task team looking into the SABC Board and related matters. SABC Inquiry — December 2016 – February 2017
Hate speech — the ACDP continues to be a voice of reason as work continues on this legislation.
State capture inquiry into Eskom and other SOEs— December 2017. The recognition and mandate for parliament’s portfolio committees to take the initiative and face, head-on, the challenge of looking into the
allegations of state capture was in direct response to an ACDP proposal adopted in the Chief Whip’s Forum. The process in committees was then ably assisted by ACDP participation in the demanding and long days, weeks and months of the process.
Historic Labour Laws AB passed in the National Assembly on November 28 2017 — The ACDP made history as the first opposition party and the first member of parliament to have a private member’s bill passed in the National Assembly. This bill, which provides for parental and adoption leave, was celebrated widely as workers everywhere and especially young fathers, felt a greater sense of responsibility and of being valued in this important role. The bill is expected to pass through the NCOP soon and go to the president to be signed into law by August this year.
2016 local government elections — the ACDP agreed to cooperate for purposes of strengthening opposition and holds key positions in co-governing metros.
The role of the ACDP in the ZumaMustFall campaign — firstly, in the form of the close cooperation of the ACDP leader with opposition parties and the successful countrywide marches, especially in Gauteng and Cape Town. Secondly the work of the ACDP in parliament and cooperation across party lines to ensure the peaceful, transfer of power in response to the will of the people.
National Prayer Day in parliament (November 24 2017) — this was one of many initiatives by the ACDP to facilitate prayer in parliament and at other levels of government. It was a huge success.
Expropriation of land — The ACDP understands that for socioeconomic justice to be a reality, land redistribution is necessary and expropriation is inevitable but expropriation of land without fair compensation cannot be condoned.
We also acknowledge that the failure or success of our human settlements expansion programme, depends on accessing and releasing optimally-located land. Houses can only be built on land which is suitable and well-located. It is critical that title deeds for land and houses are in the hands of the people of South Africa and not the state as envisaged by the EFF.
The ACDP has called on government to champion a pragmatic land redistribution drive guided by the principles of equity and justice. Expropriation of land without compensation has historically destabilised economies and destroyed the hopes and dreams that freedom promises.
The ACDP is presently actively involved in the Joint Constitutional Review Committee, which has been mandated to investigate possible amendments to Section 25 of the Constitution. Public hearings are presently being held in all provinces.
Israel/SA relations — the ACDP has been active in helping to manage and improve Israel/SA relations at the level of government, parliament, trade and commerce. We have consistently encouraged and supported efforts by government in respect of facilitating dialogue and negotiations between stakeholders en route to sustainable peaceful coexistence and a peaceful prosperous future for both Palestinians and Israelis. We are always conscious of the huge pressure on government from party structures in this regard. We unashamedly defend Israel’s right to exist and defend itself — as much for its own people as for the people of neighboring countries being abused by their regimes. We have seen evidence of good trade and other relations between SA and Israel in the face of much controversy.
Note to reader: Much more has been recorded in press releases and speeches by ACDP MPs over 24 years. This summary tries to include issues perceived to hold greater interest for our constituents and those that may have been less reported on.