A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS STANDING COMMITTEE
26 February 2002
SCOPA'S STRUCTURAL ISSUES: DISCUSSION
Chairperson: Dr G Woods (IFP)
[This is a transcript of the meeting, produced by the Public Accounts Committee Secretariat.]
African National Congress
Mr L Chiba
Mr PA Gerber
Mr DM Gumede
Ms NL Hlangwana
Mr BW Kannemeyer
Ms PK Mothoagae
Mr BZ Nair
Mr VG Smith
Ms R Taljaard
Inkatha Freedom Party
Dr GG Woods (chairperson)
New National Party
Mr F Beukman
United Democratic Movement
Dr GW Koornhof
Apologies: Mr NH Masithela, Mr RS Ndou
In attendence: Mr S Fakie (Auditor-General), Mr K Botes, Mr A van wyk, Mr C Benjamin and Ms L Giyose.
1. Decisions taken:
A hearing on the Department of Defence will take place on 20 March 2001 from 09h00 until 13h00.
2. Matters arising:
2.1 Group one
The group will present the Justice draft resolution to plenary next week Tuesday.
The group will draft a letter regarding the facilitation of a meeting with the Finance and Justice portfolio committees and will ask the chairperson to sign it.
The group will present the Correctional Services draft resolution to plenary on 12 March 2002.
A hearing on the Legal Aid Board will be prioritised after the April recess; the outstanding draft resolution from last year will be incorporated into the resolution after the hearing.
The group will draft a letter inquiring from Treasury how far they are with splitting the Secret Service budget from the Treasury budget and will ask the chairperson to sign it.
2.2 Group two
The group recommends hearings on Housing, Parliament and Water Affairs and Forestry; the group will come back to plenary with a date for a hearing on Housing next week.
2.3 Group three
The Land Affairs draft resolution will be tabled on Tuesday next week.
The group recommends hearings on Transport and Public Works; the group will come back to plenary next week with dates.
The group will write a letter to the department of Labour to inquire about the delay in the tabling of the UIF annual report and will ask the chairperson to sign it.
The group would like the chairperson to write a letter on behalf of the committee requesting a legal opinion in order to clarify whether the OAG and Parliament have the right of access to information in the light of Transnet's refusal to cooperate with the OAG.
The chairperson will table a draft proposal on the budget for consideration by the Committee next week.
See attached transcript.
[Chairperson] Let us get down to business. We have an agenda part of which was planned at our last meeting, part of which is in proposed form. We need to confirm that agenda before us. Also just bear in mind the developments of yesterday, my resignation. It has become some urgency in getting a replacement Chair. We need to build this in. The reason for my making my resignation effective on Friday is to create those two days to co-operate in whatever way I can should the Committee wanted me to be Chairperson between now and then. Let us just have a bit of guidance from the various individuals in the Committee as to the shape of the agenda as it stands and any additions. Is the ANC happy?
[Mr V Smith] Yes.
[Chairperson] We have this first item which was proposed last week. In my view it is still an important item. The small twist to that is that I am no longer Chair, but I do think we all agree that perhaps the Committee needs to focus on this on taking it forward. I recall it was proposed by Dr G Koornhof that we have this item on the agenda last. It was generally supported. I also think Dr Koornhof that you proposed that it was an in-camera session. Does the Committee have a view on that?
[Mr V Smith] I want to confirm that we at our last meeting agreed that the first half hour of this meeting will be in-camera to afford an opportunity to respond to the party's response to your letter. I am a bit surprised that that formal decision of the Committee now seems to be no longer in force. I am not in any way suggesting that we do not want the media here, because most of what is going to be said today has been said yesterday anyway. I just want to put it on record that the minutes will reflect, if they are accurate, that the proposal was that the first half hour of today's session would be closed to hear what you had to report back after having listened to all of us and thereafter we would have opened it up as a normal SCOPA meeting. I do not have a view on what the way forward is now. I am also not sure that that particular agenda item is still relevant, to be quite frank. Matters emanating from last week's meeting has already been put to the fore at your interaction with the media yesterday and, in fact, our interaction as political parties responding to your resignation. I cannot figure out what is it new that we are going to say today. Maybe you have new things to say. But I am saying just purely from events from yesterday it is a bit difficult for me to understand what is it that we are going to discuss today. I think you must guide us.
[Chairperson] I share Mr Smith's uncertainty. I think there are issues that need to be discussed. I think that they should be discussed, in my view, under the guidance of the new Chairperson, so that that new Chairperson is in tune with the feelings of the Committee in moving the Committee forward. So perhaps that might not be worthwhile to engage these sort of issues today. Are there any other views?
[Ms R Taljaard] We really had a process proposal to make today and it flows from the copies of the transcript of last week's meeting that we did receive. I think it would be important, and we are also of the opinion that last week's meeting did create a background for this subsequent meeting. We believe that we need to consider perhaps in accordance with the Rules to see whether one can lift the embargo on that transcript, because matters have now spilled into the public domain. I think it would be in the interest of transparency to have those transcripts introduced in the public domain. The Rules do allow for it. It allows for either the Committee to decide that or for Madam Speaker to make such a ruling or for the National Assembly to do it by resolution. We would like to make a proposal that the Committee considers lifting the confidentiality of the transcript of last week's meeting.
[Chairperson] That was a proposal from the DA. Are you responding to that Mr Nair?
[Mr B Nair] No I am not. Just in addition to what Mr Smith has just told the meeting, what is disquieting is that we have been presented with a fait accompli here. Now a proposal has been made by Ms Taljaard that we should make the transcripts which are supposed to be transcripts arising in a closed meeting to now become public property. It is a ridiculous situation and we cannot follow it. What we should have done is to have a closed meeting, take decisions as to whether we should make it public and then come back to the media. That is the right process. But what we have here is â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ You actually play into the entire situation by tendering your resignation via the media the very thing that Mr Kannemeyer tried to obviate last week by going to lengths to appeal to you not to go to the media, but to discuss this at a closed meeting so that we could air our views and come to a reasonable conclusion. You made the decision. You are the â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.. of your â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ and by taking the decision you made it public and virtually all the contents of the discussions that we have had and even beyond. You are entitled to â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ I think we should also take into cognizance that rather open it up to the media as well. Please, understand, and this I also mentioned last week, we are not adverse to the idea of the media being present at all our meetings. As a matter of fact the ANC's position has been quite clear. We want public airing of views, but what we thought was we will discuss this at a closed meeting in confidence, a fair exchange of ideas, so that we could resolve this matter amicably. Far from it being resolved, in fact, we were in the process. We were going to have a meeting this morning. It was supposed to be a closed session where we go through the entire process, the reports last week, and the Chair was going to respond to the points raised by all the political parties last week. What is the position now? We are now being presented with a fait accompli, being that the entire media is scanning SCOPA. Now we have not come here with little tricks as to whether we should be open or closed, but this document which is suppose to be secret should now be exposed to the media. What are we up to? I find this disturbing and â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦which we are stage managing things and we want to now indict the ANC. Ultimately it is going to be that. The ANC is now going to be indicted for pressing for a closed meeting. Far from it.
[Chairperson] I would like to remind you that there is a proposal on the table. I would like us to deal with it.
[Mr B Kannemeyer] I want to speak to that proposal. I want to support the proposal that we move on to item number 2 on the agenda for the very specific reason that this Committee took some decisions last week, but I do not think we can as a Committee be immune to events that have overtaken decisions of the Committee since last week. I do think we must work within the real conditions that present itself to this Committee. I do not want to say much more in that, because just looking at the minutes, it was not just Dr Koornhof that have suggested that the first session of the meeting be closed. You yourself, Chairperson, indicated that we reserve the first part of the meeting just to summarise and to see where we are and how we are going forward. Secondly, it was also stated how we are going to deal with the meeting that we had last week and our interaction with the media and after that that there is going to be one statement. But, of course, I do not know the extent to which all that have changed with your decision to make your decision public. I would suggest or think on how our discussion last week inform you and the position you were going to take. I think if we are going to continue discussing this matter it will serve as much purpose because you have taken your decision without the Committee benefiting from your thought process as we started the process last week. I think it was Ms Taljaard who said at the close of the meeting "if all of us came to this meeting with the right intention to restore the proper functioning and work of this Committee" then we would follow a certain path. I was hopeful that we would be able to do that today. Clearly we are not in a position to do that, because we respect your decision as an individual. Therefore I do not think we are going to achieve much today to rehash our discussion of last week. I think you are correct when you say that if we want to continue on the discussion of how we work towards getting the Committee to increase its effective functioning and productivity now that you have made up your mind and that you have decided that you are not serving as Chairperson of this meeting. I agree with you that probably we should have a continuation of that discussion with the new Chairperson in place. We put a framework in place right from the word go. What are the different things that we expect from one another? I do not think it is going to serve the proper functioning of this Committee anything at all if we start the rebuilding of this Committee on what inevitably will go down into mud slinging and statements and everyone ramming everyone else without anyone taking responsibility for our own contribution into the problem. It was Mr Smith who proposed that we move on. The suggestion by Ms Taljaard about minutes, I think it is a process matter. We can look at, again within the context of when we discuss these matters again with the new Chairperson present, but for the time being it remains as is. I think if I read some of the newspapers and followed some of the media, there has also been sufficient talk out of what was supposedly an in-camera meeting. I do not think that is going to stop anyone in any case from speaking to it. I support that we move onto item number 2.
[Chairperson] From what I am hearing is that that is the view of the ANC that the Committee does not have a problem with making public the transcripts of the last meeting? Is that correct?
[Mr B Kannemeyer] I am a member of the ANC. I spoke as a member of this Committee. You are asking us to bear in a particular way. You are not helping me. We are contributing here. When I speak I make a contribution in terms of what will take the work of this particular meeting forward. So every time any member is going to speak it will be that party speaking, not an individual. I cannot separate myself, and I will never separate myself from the ANC, but we will participate in this Committee meeting as Members of Parliament contributing to the well functioning of this Committee.
[Chairperson] Mr Kannemeyer, there have often been variances of opinion made from the ANC. I just had to check whether you are speaking on behalf of the party, but I take it that you are. I repeat my question, because you did not say explicitly. You are agreeing to a request that Ms Taljaard made that we can make the document public. Yes or no?
[Mr B Kannemeyer] If it is a question and answer session, no?
[Chairperson] I do not think we must do what happened last week where we talk about going forward but everybody wants to make a speech about yesterday and what happened. And also when people start to put a spin on things, as we are already hearing, you are going to oblige me to have my spin just now. It is not going to take us anywhere.
[Dr G Koornhof] This item that we discuss perfectly reflect the desperate state this Committee is in. We cannot work like this. I am not prepared to work like this and I am not going to continue to work like this. First of all there was an official decision by this Committee how to handle this item collectively. And it was not only you as Chairperson that had to report back at this meeting. All parties had to report back. We had to put our views on the table. I thought that at that stage it was agreed that we will have a meeting in private session. Now it is not. That does not matter. I am not concerned whether to do it in private session or in public. The fact of the matter is, the issues that we addressed cannot and dare not disappear from the table and it will not disappear from the table, whether we discuss it in public or in private. And as long as those issues remain, whether you are going to handle it as Chair till Friday or whether the new Chair is going to handle it, the issues will not disappear and we will have to address the issue. We need to go forward now. I appeal to you as Chair to make a decision now whether we are going to address the first item on the agenda or whether we move on. It is simple and we make a call. If we overturn it, it is collectively. You will be supported by votes. If it is not overturned you will be voted in.
[Chairperson] I think if we listened, I did make a proposal and there has already been some support of it that we put this out on the side, that it is more relevant to the Committee under the new Chair. I do like to give people the opportunity to respond to that. That is my view that this item should be put aside.
[Mr D Gumede] I would appeal for leadership with integrity, reliability and honesty. We have got to honor our promises. I am not against anything being published per say, but my position is based on a principle. We promised each other that we are going to take this matter further in a closed meeting. Now I feel betrayed because we agreed. No one said thereafter that the meeting should be opened. People spoke in confidence in the belief that what they said in that meeting was going to be in confidence and you have to lead in that. Now if I do say that you support the position of the DA, I do not think that is proper. We have to be honest. I felt betrayed when I saw you on tv yesterday when I expected you to come to this closed meeting to discuss this matter further and build the Committee. It is not only you yourself. We should not be selfish, but it is not you yourself who is involved in this Committee. It is all of us. You are supposed to take us through a process and then amongst whatever you decided, you had to take your position yes. I think we have got to be decent to each other.
[Mr P Gerber] What I have said to you in the previous meeting, I do not mind it if goes public. I do not know how to handle this. I do not know how we can operate this meeting with you as Chair saying in the beginning you actually want to facilitate the process getting the new Chair, knowing that you are leaving on 1 March 2002. It does not make sense to me. So my gut feeling is and as you have mentioned that there are various opinions in the ANC and that is why the ANC is a strong organisation because of the large variants of opinions. Personally I think it is an intolerable situation at the moment. You having resigned, you have done all the media things that you are suppose to do when you resign being in your position, but now still wants to lead this Committee till the 1st of March 2002. This Committee is not in limbo. We have got three subgroups that does their work. We can carry on with our work. It is not a proposal I want to make. It is just an idea that maybe one should just carry on with the workgroups till up to the 1st of March 2002, because I cannot see what I have seen this morning here in terms of the attitude and the atmosphere that we are going to do justice to SCOPA for the next couple of meetings till the 1st of March 2002.
[Chairperson] Where are we? I think the initial proposals I tried to make and the leadership I tried to assert seems to be taking some shape. That is that the intended half an hour remains important that we want to prepare aside, that it would be more appropriate for the issue to be discussed under the new chairmanship and we want â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ item. Mr Gerber you are wrong. I do not want to stay in the Chair, but I am doing it, not to facilitate. I am doing it to co-operate. I really do look to the parties. I think the ANC in particular to also help us go forward with the new Chairperson. We need to know how long it is going to take? What process you propose being followed and where we are going to with that issue? Would you like to respond to that Mr Smith?
[Mr V Smith] Let us put that thing to bed, because it is a non-issue. Your written text indicates that you resign with effect on 1 March 2002. So from an ANC point of view by the 1st of March 2002 there will be a position or when it is appropriate that position will be announced. So as far as we are concerned it is business as usual. You are the Chairman until the 1st of March 2002. You will be expected to be in the Chair today to do the things that you are doing, but certainly in terms of who is going to be the Chair and when is the Chair going to be appointed, we can assure you that there will be no hick-up after the 1st of March 2002. The process will take place. I think the suggestion that we conclude today's meeting as envisaged in the agenda and whatever comes out of it, if there is a meeting tomorrow we do that. There is no meeting scheduled for Thursday or Friday for SCOPA and by Tuesday next week there will be a new Chairperson of SCOPA and that process is being finalised as we speak. So that is just to lay that to rest. I do not think it is in the domain of this Committee to appoint that Chairperson. We certainly will do that when the time is appropriate. But for today and tomorrow I think it is you that needs to Chair. We just follow the transcript of your resignation. I think you must do what you need to do today because you are still the Chairperson as I understand it. You do what you need to do tomorrow because you are still the Chairperson. By Monday it will be non-issue because we will have a Chairperson in place. When we reconvene on Tuesday the normal process will be followed. The Committee will propose a Chairperson. We will vote on that Chairperson and you will be replaced by Tuesday. We can carry on today and tomorrow.
[Chairperson] That is useful. Now at least we know where we are with that. I think it is obviously a key issue that that new Committee under the new Chair can decide on item 1 how you want to take that forward. We might find a couple of other items on the agenda that the Committee might decide to want to put those forward to help the new Chairperson get his hands on the steering wheel. That brings us to the group reports.
[Ms R Taljaard] I would like to have a clarification. I did make a formal proposal, which Mr Kannemeyer indicated no to, and would like to know whether that has been dealt with adequately in terms of Committee procedures or whether or not the suggestion that it be held in abeyance until the new Chair is in place will lead the route that we are opting for?
[Chairperson] My understanding is that your proposal was rejected by Mr Kannemeyer. He did say that he was speaking on behalf of the ANC, even though that two ANC members after that said that they did not have a problem. I think that is the official view. I am sure you do not want to put it to the vote. The majority has spoken and the proposal is turned down. On the report backs - the workgroups in this year have had two opportunities to start getting into their work as I understand it. The initial settling of workgroups had a specific agenda and that was to reflect on what was outstanding from last year and the Auditor-General's office helped us identify those. There were some resolutions and a few other issues. Hopefully in their report back the workgroups could tell us how they intend to proposing we tie the loose ends from last year's work. I am not sure if the workgroups this morning had the opportunity to start looking at the 2001 Reports which we know there are a few â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦. I also think it is an opportunity for the workgroups to explore the proposal. I think Mr Gerber was asking whether we should over the next two days, you do have a proposed agenda tomorrow, keep the focus on the workgroups so that they can get on top of things. And then finally, I requested last week that it would be very helpful if workgroups could come up with a suggestion or two about initial Hearings, so that we can get those wheels turning and get Hearing on steam within three weeks. So with that in mind could we kick off with the workgroups? Can we start with you Mr Smith?
[Mr V Smith] Indeed we met this morning and the week before in cluster 1. It is business as usual. The first issue - we had in a previous occasion indicated that we would want to have a Hearing on the current Report with the Department of Defence for 13 March 2002. The Department has written back requesting that that Hearing be postponed by a week. They have a prior engagement. Cluster 1 agreed to that. We are preparing for a Hearing with the Department of Defence on the current Report for 20 March 2002. It will deal with the entire Report, the unauthorised and the stock inventory levels etc. and because we are doing that the members that are leading us, Dr Koornhof and Mr Chiba, have requested that we have just that one item on the agenda on 20 March 2002. So from 9 o'clock till 1 o'clock that there is no other items put on the agenda except Defence because it is going to be a big Report. In terms of outstanding resolutions - we have three. The Justice resolution - we received and we discussed very broadly this morning. We have agreed that next week Tuesday we will present a Report to SCOPA on Justice for members of SCOPA to consider and for possible adoption on Wednesday. So the Justice resolution for the Hearing of 14 November 2001 will be presented to yourselves on Tuesday. There are some specific suggestions that members have made in terms of what we think should go along with the Justice Report which will be forwarded in due course. I think if members would want to do it now we could do it. I do not think there is anything to stop them from doing that, but you will get a Report and a request from the Committee to facilitate a meeting between Justice and Finance. We will draft that letter and we will ask you to sign it because we think that is more than just a resolution. We need interaction with other political structures around the Director-General and relating state of the Justice Department. Correctional Services - we will consider on 5 March 2002 as cluster 1. You will probably get it at the latest a week later. So before we rise for the Easter Recess both Justice and Correctional Services should be presented and ready for adoption. On the Legal Aid Board - we agreed that we are going to prioritise Legal Aid Board for our first Hearing when we get back after the recess and therefore the resolution outstanding from last year will be incorporated in our resolution after the Hearing. Mr K Botes informed us that that Report should be ready within the next few days or weeks. So the last of our outstanding resolutions on Legal Aid we will incorporate with our Hearing very early in the new turn or after â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.. We then looked at all the Miscellaneous Reports for cluster 1 and I can say that they are all being processed either by way of preliminary questions or clarity seeking questions being set out or the Auditor-General's Office finalizing one or two questions around the Miscellaneous Reports. So from our point of view the Miscellaneous Reports we have are all being processed. There is no problem. The main Report - we are going to have Defence. Foreign Affairs - we are going to write a letter of clarity around the unauthorised. Other than that it is a very clean Report and we do not think there should be a need for a Hearing on Foreign Affairs. Justice I have just spoken to. The ICD - the member of the NNP, Mr A Blaas who was not there, so we are not very clear on ICD and SAPS. We are at the stage of sending preliminary questions. Then we have the Secret Services - the Report, and I am glad that the Auditor-General is here, last week we asked Mr K Botes who assists us from the Auditor-General's Office to seek clarity as to why the Secret Service Report has not been tabled? We have not received it yet. We have been informed that two parts of that Report will be presented very shortly and that the Auditor-General generally will talk on delays. We are hoping that he will also include that, the reason for Secret Service's delay. That is the only problem child that we have in our cluster. Also there we have toyed around with the idea to write a letter to Treasury exploring how far they are with splitting the Secret Service Budget from the Treasury Budget. We will draft that letter and we will ask you to sign it in due course. I think to a large extend that covered our work. So as far as we are concerned we are on top of everything except the Secret Services. I want to allow specifically Mr Chiba and Dr Koornhof because they are leading us on Defence and also Ms Taljaard took the items that I might have not covered emanating from our last two meetings.
[Chairperson] Thank you Group 1. There are two small issues. I just want to understand on the Hearing for the Department of Defence - does that include the most recent Auditor-General's Report?
[Mr V Smith] Yes.
[Mr L Chiba] It also includes the medical stocks and the Special Defence Account.
[Chairperson] You are correct. We are going to need a full morning for that. On Justice - Mr Allen McKenzie, the CFO, has been phoning me and wanting to speak to the Committee. He comes down here once a month and he feels there is a lot of developments he needs to bring us up to date on. So I have his secretary's number, so when you feel it is appropriate and want to take that opportunity just let me know. Group 2 can carry on.
[Ms N Hlangwana] Maybe I should just indicate that in the midst of the disfunctionality of the Committee this cluster managed to do quite a lot of work. When we look at the 1999/2000 Reports we have had about 7 Hearings and resolutions have been passed on those departments which is Education, GCIS, Health, Home Affairs, Social Development and â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦. Salary Bill Reports. The 2000/2001 Reports, the qualified Reports which is Home Affiars, GCIS and Public Service Commission. Unqualified is Education, Health, Housing, Public Service and Admin and Social Development. We have decided that we need to have Hearings on Housing, Parliament, Water Affairs and Forestry. This morning we decided that Housing is going to get dealt with next week Tuesday. We hope to finalise it. We just received all the documents and replies yesterday. We will set a date for a Hearing after Tuesday. The Reports of 2000/2001 which had been tabled and referred for which the preliminary questions have been submitted that we have not received replies is Provincial and Local Government, Water Affairs and Forestry. We are going to receive Public Admin very soon and Precidency and â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦. . The Reports of 2000/2001 have been tabled and referred which we are still drafting questions. It is also â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ and â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦.. Communication had not been tabled. Parliament - we have decided to have a Hearing on. The Housing issue - it is mainly on Housing Trust. Maybe that is why we would want to have a Hearing on that. We had also decided that would not be any Hearing on Presidency, Education, GCIS, Health, Formal â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ and Social Development. I am thinking about 2001. The other issue that I would like to report on is the remaining reports from 2000 that we decided should be together with 2001.
[Mr B Kannemeyer] There were a number of reports that at the beginning of last year we had draft resolutions and we agreed as a Committee that those draft resolutions would be reworked into actual questions to the relevant departments again and that we would process those replies together with the 2001 Annual Reports. Our Cluster was in a relative fortunate position last year in the sense that most of our reports were tabled and were available quite early. And for that reason we succeeded in submitting questions to the Director-General's on 12 of the 16 Reports that came to our Cluster before the end of last year that we have submitted earlier in this year. So for 12 of the 16 Reports sent to us questions have already been sent. We received replies on 8 of those preliminary sets of questions and we are currently evaluating those. Mr van Wyk indicates to us that on the other 4 the replies are due within the next week or two. The concern that we do have, as the Cluster Convener has indicated, is Communications has not been tabled or is an available Report. Parliament - the Report has been tabled, but has not been referred to the Committee. We did get a Report from the Committee Section which was not really satisfactory which is to the extent that the Clerk of Papers has indicated that he is aware and that they are working on it. It might have been an oversight, but we can start working on the processes of the Report. We are not comfortable with that indicating that the way Parliament is working is that the Report is supposed to be referred formally to us. We cannot start our writing questions on a Report that has not formally been referred to us. I think that is in regard to particularly Parliament and Communications. With regard to Parliament - we have got all the questions and everything is worked out. There are particular areas that we are not convinced that the type of oversight is the way it should be. But those questions we are holding back until the Report is actually referred to the Committee and therefore the Cluster. We have also started a process with regards to the Miscellaneous Reports and we have tasked Mr van Wyk to give us a final summary on that by next week in terms of the entire summary of four Miscellaneous Reports to our Department, so that we can see the ones which we have started processing on, which we have sent questions to the relevant departments or authorities and to check whether we have received the replies and to what extent we evaluate those. So that we can also then check on whether there is one, two or three of them that we may need to have Hearings on. The approach generally was that we feel quite confident we should be able to finalise the main reports, those that we had in any case, in terms of processing them and have Hearings if there is need for Hearings by the end of April 2002 which would give us sufficient time to then work in detail and get our work on the Miscellaneous Reports up to date. Our Cluster has been in a more fortunate position that the bulk of our Reports had been unqualified, the larger part of them, and where there has been qualifications it has not been of the type of complexity that some of the other bigger Reports have been confronted with. So in that regard, even the ones that we have agreed that we should have Hearings on, we would first want to see the replies and evaluate the replies of the department before we then come back to the Committee next week to say our recommendation is now that there should be Hearings or not. Of course, the rest of the committee must apply their minds and whether they agree with our assessment of it or not. But from our meaning of the work we have put in we would be in a position next week to make those kind of recommendations.
[Chairperson] That concludes the report back from the second Group.
[Ms K Mothoagae] It is a question around Communication that is received again from the Department. If you would remember when we took a resolution around the Department of Education, we had some deadlines for 2 January 2001. So we were concerned last week when we received information from the Department of Health where the information was supplied on 20 December 2001, but we only received it mid February 2002. We are not sure when it was delayed, but it is a concern, because we picked up from other correspondences as well in the past. It is just that we did not raise it at this forum, but I think we should raise it now that there is delays. I am not sure where it is, between the Chairperson.
[Chairperson] Can we go into that in the next day or so? I will try and look into it and see where the delay is. If I may just exercise an opinion - it is encouraging to see the groups getting into the Miscellaneous Reports and whether this is a nominal cut-off point of whether a Report is qualified or not and if it is qualified we tend to say let us change it but give it more attention. The opinion I express is that it is also important to look at the emphasis of matter issues where you get some Reports which might not be qualified, but if you look at the range of emphasis of matters you see a story in the making there, the breakdown in the control systems, systemic problems, qualified or unqualified and what action one takes.
[Mr D Gumede] We first run through what has happened right through the departments and then go to Miscellaneous Reports. On the different departments - we have just received a Report from the Department of Agriculture. We shall finalize our questions at the next meeting. On Arts, Culture, Science and Technology - we felt that there should be no questions on the Report, but there are other matters considering whistle blower which had been referred to the SIU (Special Investigation Unit). And apparently according to the whistle blower with whom I talked yesterday, there is a Report with the Chairperson from the SIU already. I do not know whether that Report is there or not and on other matters that she was not satisfied I had referred her to the Scorpions as well. She seems to be satisfied with the aspects that the Scorpions are dealing with. They told her that they are going to deal with the matters which are within their mandate, and then they will consider that and come back to her. That was the matter on the Department of Arts and Culture. That was the same matter that Mr Bruce was concerned with, but unfortunately we could not have the benefit of Mr Bruce's input. He was not in the Committee. I do not know where he was. There was no apology.
Environmental Affairs & Tourism - we have sent questions and the Department has responded and we are evaluating the replies from the Department. On Labour - the report has not been referred to SCOPA. On Land Affairs - we thought that we are going to submit the Report today, but we felt that we had to refine the Report, particularly dealing with the final points of finalizing the resolution. We are going to table it definitely next week. Minerals & Energy - we are awaiting replies. Public Enterprises - we have received replies. We are awaiting evaluations and that includes an update on Sun Air. On Public Works - their latest Report has not yet been tabled. The input from the Auditor-General's Office was that they were not satisfied with their reasons for applying for Section 65 of the PFMA, but we are going to be updated by the Office as the matter goes on. It looks like the reasons are not good enough. On Trade & Industry - questions were sent to the Department and we are awaiting the replies. On Transport - we are still waiting for replies as well. National Treasury - we are still formulating questions there and we shall report as we go on, but their Report was unqualified. There was a concern on the computer environment in that Report. The 2000/2001 Reports that was dealt with by Custer 3 where plenary questions have been supplied to Department Heads - we have received replies as we said before and we felt that there should be Hearings in Public Works, because of a number of problems. Transport - there we felt that because of none compliance with the Tender Board Regulations and these coming out almost every year we got to look at a Hearing as well as in the Department of Transport. On UIF - we understand that the 2000 Report is being withheld. What delayed us from having a Hearing was that we thought that immediately after the 1999 Report we are going to get the 2000 Report. We shall write to the Department and asked about the 2000 Report which we understand has been printed and is ready in the Department. On Miscellaneous Report - we have dealt with 76 Reports in total. There were 24 Reports tabled for the 2000/2001 financial year. We are having a concern on Transnet - on Transnet the Auditor-General's Office said that Transnet refuses to cooperate with them despite a number of problems that they encountered there. We have recommended that we have got to get a legal opinion on this matter and follow our rights as much as possible, because we believe that this is unacceptable despite them having a Board which is separate from the direct control of Parliament. On Resolutions on recent Reports - when we are finalizing Land Affairs, as I said before, and there are 16 cases identified on unauthorized expenditure. The 16 cases will be dealt within the resolutions to be adopted by SCOPA in 2002. SARS's resolution adopted during 2001, and we are concerned that we have not received replies yet, despite the fact that we had said that we wanted replies by 31 January 2002. We also received three RDP Reports which falls under Treasury. We are going to consider those Reports next week and then come back to the Committee, because some of them are qualified, and qualified because they do not have accurate financial records. We are going to formulate our questions and Report in due course.
[Chairperson] Would anybody else from your group be adding? It would appear that you have covered everything to the satisfaction of the group. How do we see our program unfolding here? We have a specific date from Group One on a Hearing. We have had reference from the other groups as to possible Hearings. It would be useful if we could link one or two more dates and also the possibility of an anticipation of when we should reserve some time for passing up resolutions. I am also once again referring to what Mr Gerber suggested and he is right, that most of our work time in the short term will be on group work, getting on top of the Reports. It would be useful if we just start to see our program taking shape and we are under pressure from the Chairperson of Committees to come up with that program. I have sent out a message that it is a little different for SCOPA. Lets start with Group Two: Housing - was that the group who wanted a Hearing? Do you have any idea of when you might be ready for that? I will get to you after that Mr Gumede, perhaps on Transport and you could start if you like.
[Mr D Gumede] It is a point of order. There is a matter that we wanted to be dealt with and that is the matter of the legal opinion in as far as the non-co-operation of Transnet with the Auditor-General's Office. We feel that this has to got be dealt with.
[Chairperson] I was pleased and I am sure the Committee was that you are quite assertive on that issue. It seems that you had a direction. Would you like the Committee to pick that up? You suggested a legal opinion. Is the Auditor-General exploiting that legal opinion or should it come from the Committee?
[Mr C Benjamin] The uncertainty at the moment is that we the Auditor-General are not the auditors for Transnet. As such we have got no right of access to the information. In terms of the PFMA and the Constitution - it may appear that certain sections of those two Acts are in conflict. There is legal uncertainty from our side as to how we should approach it. My advise to Group Three was that we actually get a proper legal opinion from the Office's perspective and from Parliament's perspective of what right of access we as an Office have and what kind of right of access to information Parliament has got before we actually pursue that further.
[Chairperson] We are all of one mind that the Committee and the Auditor General's Office that the accountability is quite clear in the PFMA, Transnet to ourselves. Lets take Mr Gumede's question further: how the Committee actually initiates that legal action? How can we do that?
[Ms R Taljaard] Just a word of caution that just arose in the beginning before the clarification from the Auditor-General' Office, because there are two issues. We must not blur the rights of the Committee, which derives from the Constitution, and the Powers and Privileges of Parliament and the rights and obligations of the Auditor-General's Office. I was just concerned that there could be a blurring there in terms of which legal route of the opinion we are exploring. I think that fear has been allayed. I do think that it is incredibly important, because it will set a precedent for other public entities to follow if they were to decide to treat the Auditor-General's Office in a similar way. I think it is very important to get a legal opinion, but also to get that legal opinion in the context of the Constitutional mandate of the Auditor-General, because the PFMA and the stipulations it has in terms of Public Finance Management in relation to public entities is not in isolation of the Constitution.
[Chairperson] We are all pointing at the same direction. The Committee needs to send off a letter. Are the Parliamentary Law Advisors the right people? I do not suppose so. Where do we get this legal opinion that you are suggesting? I agree we need it and then we must take that opinion and put the pressure on Transnet. Ms Taljaard made a good point. This really is a nice test case to establish more clearly the relationship between the Committee and the parastatels. I am happy to take the initiative, but I put it to the Committee.
[Ms R Taljaard] On this issue, I do think that it is a question that needs to be resolved through a legal opinion derived by the Office of the Auditor-General, because it is the interaction and the â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦. between the Auditor-General and the public entity that needs to be sorted out and the clear legal ambiguity arises there. When it comes to Parliament's oversight role there is no ambiguity. There is the Constitution. So I think the potential legal ambiguity vests between the Office of the Auditor-General and the relevant public entity concern. That is why I would strongly urge that legal opinion comes via the Auditor-General's Office.
[Chairperson] I think the indication was that the Auditor-General was not of that, but can you just check that out?
[Mr C Benjamin] My advise to the group was that from Parliament's perspective this Committee should get a legal opinion from the Parliamentary Law Advisor. And we as an office, and I must obviously discuss it with my colleagues, but our first step will be to get a legal perspective from the State Law Advisor. There will be two different avenues for that. So it will be two different legal opinions as far as I am concerned.
[Chairperson] Mr Gumede, would it be merit in your say sitting with Mr Benjamin and just looking at what would be the nucleus of the point you want to rise with a legal opinion? Then the Auditor-General can go his route to the State Law Advisor and we will find our route. If you would like me to take it up, you just have to ask, but I will be guided by you.
[Mr D Gumede] I would think that it should be your Office that takes it up and whoever that person would be. Perhaps if you could do it today, do it today.
[Chairperson] I will do that if I have a Committee mandate. So I get the Committee's letter started and get the legal opinion we require. I will chat to the Auditor-General's Office and I will report back to the Committee on exactly what initiative we are taking. Mr Gumede while you are still on the floor, if I can say that, Transnet - are you able to suggest how soon you might be ready for a Hearing, so we could perhaps start putting a tentative date to help our secretariat?
[Mr D Gumede] I have just remembered there is another problem. The Transnet Report has not been referred to SCOPA. It has been referred to Public Enterprises only.
[Chairperson] We will sort that out. Somewhere there is a hiccup. If it has an Auditor-General's Report in it, let us hope it does not. For which were you proposing a Hearing? Was it the Department of Transport?
[Mr D Gumede] Yes, the Department of Transport, because of Tender Board Regulations.
[Chairperson] So you are proposing the Department of Transport for a Hearing. When do you feel you might be ready for us to start getting a Hearing going there?
[Mr D Gumede] Let me come back to you after the next meeting. We have said that we have sent the questions and we are in the process of getting replies. But our concern is that this is a recurring problem. The nature of the problem is that it recurs almost every year.
[Chairperson] I know I am putting pressure on work groups, but what I am trying to do is to get this program started. It is going to help the new Chairperson a lot to take some pressure off him to see that there is a plan and he can build on that. I also appreciate from the groups point of view it is an early part of the year, this is only your second meeting, but if you can assist the Committee. So if you could come back to us next time, Mr Gumede.
[Ms R Taljaard] If there is any legal opinion or legal ambiguity that arises, it arises in this context. Clearly if the resolution of the legal opinion that the Auditor-General's Office is required to try and obtain in relation to their mandate over the public entities and the interaction between their oversight over the relevant Auditors that the public entities appointed all the relevant prescripts of the PFMA comes up with a conclusive judgment that the Auditor-General does indeed have a strong mandate, then I would not doubt for a moment that that is going to be the outcome of that legal opinion. It does raise the issue of the relationship between the relevant Portfolio Committee and SCOPA for when the Auditor-General establishes through that legal opinion that that mandate does indeed exist to the extent that one would assume it does in relation to public entities. Then the question arises in terms of SCOPA why those Reports are then not referred to both Committees? So if there is any umbilical cord between the legal opinions it will arise in that particular context and that is why one would need to establish a precedent in both respects.
[Chairperson] That is a good angle. We must use this opportunity to explore that as well. Ms N Hlangwana back to your group. Are you able to offer us any proposed dates for Hearings?
[Ms N Hlangwana] No. I think what I said earlier on is that we are going to be looking at the replies on Tuesday and then we will be able to determine when. Actually, we will also be able to determine whether we want to have a Hearing on the three that we have identified before we got the replies. The replies are going to give us directions whether we are going to have Hearings and when we can have those Hearings.
[Chairperson] The Committee will look forward to when you will be in a better position to give us some dates. Thank you for those report backs. It is good to see the work groups getting back into the machinery of their work. I mentioned that the proposed work program that has to go the Chairperson of Committees would be delayed for another week. The Budget for the year and this is a tricky one, we expect it to be plus minus R400 000 00 and this is also an issue I would like to put in the hands of the new Chairperson. I have played around with some loose figures, but just to get the Committee's thinking on this. Will the Committee want to go on an oversee trip towards the end of the year? We now have a good idea of how much that would cost. The training was also our second â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦ issue. The trip last year cost R412 000 00 which is bigger than our whole budget, but it was a sizeable delegation much bigger than what I believe most committees sent. We need to be putting aside perhaps as much as R300 000 00 which is three quarters of our budget. So it is things of how much we want to spend on a trip, training and whether Ms Hlangwana wants muffins again, those sorts of things. If you have some guidance you can give it, but there is a big push and if we do not get our budget in soon (it should have been in already) it could prejudice us in the whole process of formulating the Committee budgets. So we are going to carry this over to next week. Do I have your agreement?
[Mr B Kannemeyer] Just on that - is it possible, and I do apologize if we did get it and I have misplaced it, that we could get a breakdown of the actual budget, so that we could apply our minds as well? We may be making suggestions next week without having a framework within which we are working.
[Chairperson] Mr Kannemeyer there is not actually a framework. We just know that we have got R400 000 00 last year. What the Chairperson of Committees is saying to us is just write a budget. If it comes to R800 000 00 you are obviously going to be chopped. We are just using last year's R4000 000 00 as a guideline. What we needing money for, and they said put it down on paper and they are going to consider it. There are no limitations. It is up to us to say what we need in this Committee.
[Ms R Taljaard] What you are actually also saying is that in addition to the DFID funded research and now is the time to try and adjudicate for more institutional support in terms of the budget allocation, that is what we need to reflect on?
[Chairperson] Yes, and I asked the question of the Chairperson of Committees. If we wanted to build in money for another two researchers can we do it? He said put it down and it will be considered. So it is an opportunity to apply our minds and for the first time at least try. We do not know what will happen once it gets into the process. They might just say they are chopping us down to R400 000 00 next year, and this is out and that is out. The invitation is there for us to exercise our minds.
[Ms N Hlangwana] I was actually saying it would have been much easier if there was a proposal on the table that maybe the Chair would have said okay, as far as I am concerned these are the issues that we need to look into. We could have debated it and we have something on the table. I think it is going to take us a lot of time if we start saying, no we want a trip, others would say this and that, you know.
[Chairperson] I did start to put some lose figures together, because I knew it is going to be on the agenda for this week. We could now play with those figures. I am also saying is it a type of issue that the new Chairperson should be exposed to as well, because he will have a special responsibility there? Should we delay this for a week? I am happy to have my figures more carefully tied up just as a point of departure for next week if the Committee would like that for you to kick off with. Ms Hlangwana would that fit? I will come up with just a very proposed budget and you can use that as your starting point for a discussion next week.
[Ms N Hlangwana] That would be fine and even if you left something behind the new Chairperson would bring this as a proposal and he or she could change it the way he or she would think is appropriate.
[Chairperson] Then lets do that then. If we could move one to the final item as today's agenda stands. That is the DFID Researcher. I think the Committee has been trying to coordinate the interviews and I really think we are letting ourselves down here and DFID is getting very frustrated that we are not taking up this generous offer for them to pay for a researcher and they have gone to the troubles of placing the advert and getting the short list. The UDM, Mr Koornhof has sent a list of his prioritized CV's, one to seven. He has not given us a date yet. This is now a matter of urgency and it needs to happen in the next week. The Committees have to say whom their top ones are so that we can select the final 3, which is what DFID suggesting. We can get all those people. Some might have to fly in from other parts of the country. We have got to show some interest in this.
[Mr B Kannemeyer] I agree. I am one of the people who were supposed to come back with the ordering. What I was wondering whether we are going to have a meeting or an interaction with the group that is supposed to deal with this. So that instead of just I submitting my 3 numbers, is it then going to be a calculation of so many people said this candidate, so many said that one and therefore those become the 3, or are we going to have some discussions arriving at 3 out of the 7? I would have found it useful if we can just convene a small meeting, probably just for 10 minutes, because the work is done. I accept the responsibility. I should have passed it on or sent it through. I think it would be actually useful. I do not know who are all the other members that are serving on this Committee. But it might be useful if we can convene that little committee even if it is just 10 to 15 minutes either today or tomorrow so that we can reach agreement that this is the 3 people that we process and that we then set dates for the interviews.
[Chairperson] Let us take up that lead. We have today to look at the CVs, compile our little list and can we meet for a short time tomorrow? The morning might be a bit difficult unless we could pull those people out of the workgroups maybe half and hour early, or we have to take half and hour off the House. Do you want to take it out of the workgroup time or the House time the afternoon?
[Mr V Smith] Unless people are participating directly in questions, I think 15 to 20 minutes during question time would be fine.
[Chairperson] What time does the House start tomorrow - 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock?
[Ms R Taljaard] At 3 o'clock. Just on that - is there any reason why we cannot meet for example at a 2:45 then we do not jeopardize question time either and we would have been well away from lunch at that stage.
[Chairperson] I think that is what Mr Smith is saying. Can we play it safe and make it 2:30? The decision is that our colleagues from the Secretariat will notify those members who have been nominated to sit on the Interview Committee or notify them of the venue for a brief meeting at 2:30 tomorrow. When we come out of that meeting we would be able to say to DFID these are the people and we will also say this is the date. That conclude what we had on the agenda today unless members would like to raise other issues. We need to reflect on tomorrow's agenda. Also it caught me somewhat unawares that there was no House sitting this afternoon and this afternoon has been allocated for committees as well. If workgroups wanted to meet, they should feel free to do so this afternoon, but the agenda as it stands says that the workgroups do meet again tomorrow from 9 o'clock to 11 o'clock. I need to check with the Auditor-General. We have two important guests tomorrow, the Auditor-Generals of France and the Philippines. Mr Fakie what sort of interaction did they require the Committee to set down and exchange views, because we are not going to be in action for them to be just observers. So it is going to be a communication of sorts?
[Mr S Fakie] Yes, they would have liked as a first price to have seen you in action on a Hearing, but that is not possible. They just want to share ideas, exchange views and talk about the issues of accountability and the likes. It is just going to be that kind of informal discussion with the Committee members.
[Chairperson] Are we talking about an hour here? Because I know they have to move on at 12 o' clock and that we are moving on with members of the Audit Commission which will mean that Mr Kannemeyer and myself would be leaving at 12 o clock to move across to your office. Is an hour about the right time?
[Mr S Fakie] I think it is about an hour. And also for the benefit of the Committee members, the two Auditor-Generals that you are meeting are my joint Auditors that we do the UN Auditors. So they might sort of joint Auditors of the United Nations audit that we do. If you need additional background we will be able to provide that for the Committee members.
[Chairperson] I think the background would be useful if we could ask the Secretariat to link up with you. There are two things here. You will be in workgroups. Could we try and be punctual in respect of our guests at 11 o'clock tomorrow? And it is useful, we were caught unawares the other last week with the Finnish delegation. I know the French system is very different, a very strange accountability, but also known to be effective. So it might be interesting to pick up a few angles before we engage them. I do not know much about the Philippines at all, but if you could help us there, Mr Fakie, that at least we do not start off from a zero base in our discussion.
[Mr S Fakie] The Philippines are based very much on the United States Congressional System, so we could put something together for you as part of the background in terms of what system they uses. It is based very much in line with the United State Congressional System. It is not similar to our Public Accounts Committee's sort of mechanisms the Westminster System. And the French has got the Court of audit System, which is again very different to both the Congressional and the Westminster System, but we will provide you with some background.
[Chairperson] It could be a very interesting discussion on broader concepts of oversight and accountability as opposed to the kind of routines that say our module or the UK module would follow. I think the Committee had something of an experience with Germany too, which I believe had some significance. Any other items members would like to raise?
[Mr V Smith] In our cluster meeting Mr Botes indicated that the Auditor-General was going to talk on generally the delayed Reports. We are particularly interested in Secret Services if there is any reason for that. Maybe the Auditor-General could bring us up to speed with that.
[Chairperson] I was not aware of that, but we would very appreciate on that and any other issues you feel you need to inform the Committee.
[Mr S Fakie] On this Report in terms of Section 65 of the PFMA - I do have the responsibility to notify Parliament on delays in Reports. Initially I said that it is the first year of the PFMA implementation and that perhaps I will cover it in my Second General Report and just mention some of the delays that are taking place and identify the departments that delay in submitting the Reports to Parliament. But having considered some of the reasons that have been given to Parliament in terms of the delays in tabling those Reports, for example, I have looked at the SITA delay that was explained to Parliament and squarely the responsibility has been put onto the Auditor-General Office, which is not true. I have looked at Public Works, reasons for the delays in tabling the Reports and again a finger has been pointing to the Auditor-General's Office, which is not true. I think it is important to inform Parliament of the correct perspective. So we have agreed that in the next week, Mr Botes if I am right, that we will put out a very simple two page Report. It will not be a fancy bound Report. It will be a Report to Parliament explaining and giving reasons for the delays and which departments have in actual fact delayed in submitting the Reports to Parliament. That would be done, if you would just give us about a week. We have got all the information. It is just a matter of putting them together. Mr Benjamin and Mr Botes, I do not know if you are going to add anything more. Once you have given me the opportunity also to raise the other matter - I have written to you and I have copied the Conveners on a letter that I wrote on 31 January 2002 regarding the programming issue. I know we have debated some of the programming issues here this morning. What I would urge the Committee to seriously consider in moving forward is to seriously give consideration to programming of the Committee work and programming well in advance, because it does impact on the availability of me and my staff giving the Committee support in this area and the quality of this support we do give to the Committee is quite dependent on the programming. I know it is a difficult exercise. You have just started, but you need to make a concerted effort and we are prepared to help the Committee in which ever way we can to try and get some structured program for the year 2002, which will go a long way in getting the Committee organized. My letter was quite self-explanatory around the issue that you need consider.
[Chairperson] The Auditor-General is putting that question to workgroups and we need to support him. As he says it is how we support him. It often dictates the quality feedback we get. I remembered in some previous years we begin the year by saying to the Auditor-General help us to get started. What reports in your mind were the major obvious problems? We know we are going to have to have Hearings and we schedule that in the first quarter. After that the Committee will take over and be making his decisions as to what we have scheduled in the after. But in that sort of way we were fairly early in the year to almost extrapolate a program across the whole year. It always happen to a change or two, but in asking the Auditor-General to offer us his opinion right at the start of what he thinks are the more serious Reports we could identify more quickly what Hearings we have initially. Would the workgroups have any objection to asking the Auditor-General to give us a kick-start? Mr Smith, Mr Kannemeyer, Ms Hlangwana, and Mr Gumede, are you all okay? So let us do that. If we could impose on you Mr Fakie and give us a list and I am sure the workgroups will try and pull out a calendar like we used to. Are there any other matters? Thank you very much. The meeting is closed.
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