Amendment Proposal for APA December 2017

 

Objections to the 2018 proposed amendments in the Animal Protection Act.

 

Here is a link to the Amendment Bill

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1IWugtUwoWXf4CzPElqOdtYnR2lC0eHN_/view

 

Below is Pawfect Nation's submission of objection.

 

Objection to Proposed Amendment to the Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962

 

When the Animal Protection Act (hereafter referred to as APA) was passed in 1962, the Animal Anti-Cruelty League (hereafter referred to as AACL) and the various Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (hereafter referred to as SPCAs) around South Africa were the only animal welfare bodies to exist in the country. Since then, however, independent animal organisations that have no association with, or affiliation to, the NSPCA or any SPCA in the country, have also been established, with a mandate to prevent cruelty to animals.

 

In 1993, the SPCA Act was passed and the NSPCA, previously known as the Federation of SPCAs, became the umbrella organisation of all the SPCAs, as well as the single national authority that all SPCAs around the country have become answerable to.

 

Nowhere in the SPCA Act does it state that animal welfare organisations not affiliated with the NSPCA must conform to, and abide by the rules and regulations of the NSPCA. The NSPCA is a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), not a state entity, and thus has no authority over any non-SPCA animal welfare organisations. Accordingly, the NSPCA cannot serve as an oversight or accreditation body for the inspectors of rival established organisations in the animal welfare sector. The NSPCA and SPCAs also do not have judicial authority to conduct random raids on other NPOs, nor do they have the authority to confiscate animals from other NPOs, nor should they be given this power in statute.

 

The Animal Protection Bill, gazetted on 30 Nov 2017, focuses on the protection of animals in laboratories and vivisection. However, the Bill also contains a provision amending the status of animal inspectors. It states:
Amendment of section 8 of Act 71 of 1962, as amended by section 7 of Act 20 of 1985
5. Section 8 of the principal Act is hereby amended by the addition after subsection (4) of the following subsection:
‘‘(5) An officer contemplated in sub-section (1) shall have an inspector’s qualification recognised by the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals established by section 2(1) of the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1993 (Act No. 169 of 1993).’’

 

This implies that only an animal inspector qualification recognised by NSPCA may be granted to an animal officer in terms of the Act. This amendment is unconstitutional.

 

The current Act states:

“Section (1): If authorized thereto by writing under the hand of the magistrate of a district, any officer of any society for the prevention of cruelty to animals may in that district..:”

 

The words "any society for the prevention of cruelty to animals" do not constitute a pronoun. If it was intended so, the legislature would have indicated so explicitly by ensuring that words indicating a pronoun were in capital letters. As such, a reasonable inference can be drawn that that the wording was intended to generically refer to any organisation or society that is dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals, not only SPCAs. When the SPCA Act of 1993 was passed into legislation, this term was retrospectively applied to this Act, which then specified it to mean that this applied only to SPCAs. However, a term cannot be applied in hindsight to legislation, which was enacted just over three decades prior.

 

Inspectors are authorised in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 and the Performing Animals Protection Act 24 of 1935. Therefore any registered non-profit animal welfare organisation has the legal disposition to have personnel trained as inspectors. This privilege is not exclusive to the NSPCA, or the SPCAs, or the AACL.

 

Objections to the process and provisions of the proposed Animal Protection Bill

 

1. It is noted with concern that only representatives of the NSPCA were invited to provide prior input on the proposed amendments to the APA. Parliament should note that the NSPCA represents only the SPCAs in this country, as per the SPCA Act of 1993. The NSPCA’s interests most certainly do not align with the interests of the majority of role-players in the animal welfare sector because the NSPCA’s internal policies and practices differ vastly with the majority of rival welfare organisations.

 

2. If the NSPCA and the SPCAs are wrongfully afforded ‘paramount’ status in the animal welfare sector, doing so will, in effect, discriminate against non-SPCA affiliated animal welfare organisations and trivialise the phenomenal work that these competent, independent welfare societies are doing in their respective communities with limited funds and limited resources.

 

3. Not inviting representatives from any of the other 250+ independent animal welfare societies in South Africa to weigh in at an earlier stage of the drafting process of the proposed Bill is discriminatory. This is a worrying concern for independent animal welfare societies because these organisations were also established to prevent cruelty to animals, which is also the goal of SPCAs in the country. These independent animal welfare bodies also carry out rescue and welfare work with animals in all communities across the country.

 

4. With the recognition of Inspector qualifications as one of the proposed provisions in the Bill, given their potential conflict of interest in the matter, why were NSPCA representatives not excluded from being part of the discussion panel? The proposed amendment in Section 8, Clause 5 (1) relates directly to this animal welfare body and will be of benefit only to this body.

 

5. With the proposed revision of the Animal Protection Act focusing particularly on animal experimentation, why is Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (DAFF) representative, Dr MM Mathonsi, who heads up the Directorate of Veterinary Public Health, also on the panel? This is clearly a conflict of interest because Dr Mathonsi represents the very industry that supports the abuse and exploitation of animals for scientific purposes, to benefit humankind.

 

6. For the proposed amendments to be democratic and fair, NSPCA representatives should have recused themselves from the Bill’s discussion process given their clear conflict of interest in the matter. In light of the exclusion of key stakeholders and role-players in the animal welfare sector in the preceding discussion process, it can be argued that the manner in which this process has been handled is unconstitutional.

 

Summary and conclusion

 

1. The NSPCA is not a state entity, but an NPO like every other NPO, and thus needs to be monitored because it is not above reproach, nor above the law. There has been no independent body vetting this institution since its creation, yet this NPO has taken it upon itself to monitor, inspect and raid other NPOs over the last three decades, despite it having no authority to do so.

 

2. It is imperative for an independent body that is not associated with any animal welfare NPO, to be afforded the authority to investigate reports of alleged animal neglect, abuse, or cruelty by any animal welfare organisation, including the NSPCA and the SPCAs. Otherwise, the NSPCA and its animal welfare franchise of SPCA branches will continue to have a self-serving monopoly over the animal welfare sector despite the majority of animal welfare organisations not being affiliated to, or associated with the NSPCA or any SPCA in any way whatsoever. The NSPCA competes with other animal welfare organisations for funding. Accordingly, the training or recognition of qualifications of animal inspectors, including of NSPCA competitors, should not be left in the hands of the NSPCA. This is unjustifiable, constitutes a potential violation of anti-competition law, and is unconstitutional.

 

3. All personnel who are deemed by a registered animal welfare organisation to possess the requisite qualities and competencies to undergo animal inspector training, must be given the opportunity to train as animal inspectors. This privilege should not be left to the discretion of the NSPCA, who have a vested interest in not training, nor recognising the qualifications of inspectors of their competitors in the animal welfare sector.

 

4. The training and accreditation of animal welfare officers should be based on SAQA qualifications and not left to the self-serving discretion, or criterion of the NSPCA. This will enable animal inspectors of any registered animal welfare organisation to investigate alleged animal cruelty cases.

 

5. An independent vetting body that is not affiliated to, or associated with, any animal welfare organisation must be established with urgency, and all registered NPOs should be required to apply to this independent body to take an accredited animal inspector course. This will add uniformity and credibility to the animal inspector accreditation process and all NPOs will be bound by the same principles and rules. Doing so will avoid facilitating an anti-competitive ethos in the animal welfare sector and prevent the realisation of potential conflicts of interests, whereby a single animal organisation with NPO status holds a conflicted, privileged position over other competitor NPOs in the same sector.