History was made in Parliament on Tuesday when a private member's bill was passed for the first time in the National Assembly, which could give fathers 10 days parental leave.
The Labour Laws Amendment Bill, proposed by ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley, aims to give fathers the opportunity to take paternity leave.
"The bill seeks to provide for parental leave, adoption leave and commissioning parental leave. It also provides for the payment of parental benefits as well as commissioning parental benefits from the Unemployment Insurance Fund," the ACDP said in a statement earlier in the process.
Dudley was congratulated by her party leader Kenneth Meshoe.
"The African Christian Democratic Party has worked for many years to protect and defend children – their well-being, their right to be free from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation, their right to a life, a home and a loving family – and their right to loving and effective discipline," Meshoe said in a statement.
The ACDP values family and the important role it plays in society and we are grateful for this opportunity to inspire legislative reform which we believe will positively impact on the lives of children in South Africa.
"I would like to thank ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley on her vision and work in bringing this important piece of legislation into being. It is a remarkable achievement in that she is the first opposition member of Parliament to have a private member's proposal reach this point in the legislative process."
A step in the right direction
He said the bill was drafted in a manner that would harmonise it with current legislation and ensure the provisions contained in the bill are constitutional.
"It is, of course, true that the ACDP does not support, nor did it in the past support amendments to the Children's Act, 2005, which allowed for same-sex couples to adopt children. It is, however, the view of the ACDP that this bill – that is applicable in the current legislative environment – will be applicable should the Children's Act ever be amended in line with ACDP policy," said Meshoe.
He said while the legislation would not remedy all social ills or challenges facing families it was a step in the right direction.
In a country where fathers have historically been separated from their families and survival necessitated an acceptance of not being able to bond and be hands-on in their day-to-day upbringing – initiatives that facilitate the involvement of fathers in their children's lives are welcomed and encouraged by the ACDP.
Just after passing Dudley's bill, the National Assembly voted to withdraw the Medical Innovation Bill, which was originally brought by late IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, which sought to legalise the medical use of cannabis compounds. The bill has been withdrawn because new regulations render it obsolete.
After being diagnosed with cancer, Oriani-Ambrosini introduced the bill in February 2014. He died in August of that year and IFP chief whip Narend Singh carried forward his work on the bill.
Singh said the IFP felt enough had been done in terms of the regulations to fulfil the objects of the bill.
The EFF was the only party that objected to the withdrawal of the bill.