Select Committee Reports on Departments of Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs & Public Service & Administration Budget 2009/10; Committee Programme

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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered the report of the Select Committee on Co-operative and Traditional Affairs Budget vote 29, together with the report on budget vote 9 for the Department of Public Service and Administration. Other issues dealt with were the 2009 annual programme of the Select Committee, the letter from the Speaker of Parliament Mr Max Sisulu, requesting the Committee to start working on the Bills that lapsed on the the 22nd of April, a day of the elections. The 2009 annual draft programme was adopted but subject to further changes.

The same approach was used on the adoption and consideration of the two reports mentioned above; that of adopting conditionally but subject to necessary changes that may arise at a later stage. Some members raised concerns about being handed the document the day of the meeting for adopting of such documents, saying in future they will prefer to be handed documents well in advance in order to allow them time read through and make informed decisions on whether or not to adopt the documents.

The last issue discussed was the partnership visits of provinces by the Select Committee on security and Constitutional Development together with the Select Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. It was suggested that although the two committee-Chairpersons had earlier thought of visiting the two provinces on the same date and doing so by splitting the members for each province, this proposition was not well received by other members, especially those from minority parties and new members in particular.

Meeting report

Committee Report on Department of Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs 2009/10
The Committee did not have any comments nor objections to the Report and it was adopted without any amendments.

Committee Report on Department of Public Service & Administration Budget 2009/10
Before moving for adoption, Mr B Nesi (ANC) suggested that it would be appreciated if they were given the documents in advance so that they had the opportunity to read and digest the contents of all the documents. There might be issues that one was not comfortable with which one might find out about after adoption and it would be too late then.

Mr A Matila (ANC) seconded the adoption but also stressed the importance of Mr Nesi’s proposal that the documents should be made available before the meeting in order for the members to have an adequate opportunity to read the documents.

The Chairperson noted the concern and said he was not aware that members did not get the documents in advance, as he had managed to get his copies well in advance.

Mr D Bloem (COPE) also supported the concerns raised by his colleagues, saying he accepted that the Committee was new. However, next time he would have ‘a serious problem’ adopting something he had not had an opportunity to read through.

The Chairperson suggested that it would be best if they went on with adoption, but if the members came across any issues in the contents of the documents at a later state, they must feel free to raise them and an amendment would be made.

All members agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal to revisit the adoption process if need be at a later stage.

Committee 2009 Annual Programme
The Chairperson warned members that the draft programme before them was subject to change and therefore members should be mindful of that fact. Nonetheless, it was still important to adopt the document conditionally.

Mr Bloem agreed with the Chairperson that parliamentary programmes were always subject to change.

All members agreed to adopt the programme subject to whatever change that might arise.

Revival of Traditional Leadership and Governance Amendment Bill [B57 of 2008] & National House of Traditional Leaders Bill [B56 of 2008]
The Chairperson read a letter from Hon Max Sisulu, The Speaker of Parliament, addressed to the NCOP Chairpersons who had bills that lapsed at the end of the Third Parliament. The letter was requesting the Committee revise the two bills: Traditional Leadership and Governance Amendment Bill [B57 of 2008] together with the National House of Traditional Leaders Bill [B56 of 2008]. These Bills had been passed by the National Assembly but the NCOP did not have enough time to consider them before the 2009 general elections.

Mr A Watson (DA) said there was a political agreement to start working on the Bills. He could not recall exactly where he got the information from but to his knowledge, there was such a political agreement to start the process.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) was amazed that Mr Watson would support the notion of starting to work on the Bills without following the proper procedure, that is, ascertaining whether the Bills had been properly revived by appearing in the parliamentary paper, Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC), as was normally the case.

Mr Watson said there was no need to wait or follow any ‘proper procedure’ before working on the tasks that fell within the mandate of the Committee. The Committee was free to work on any document be it at White Paper or Green Paper stage.

In the end, the Committee agreed to start working on the bills. This was after the Chairperson had it confirmed that the Bills had passed the ‘ATC’ test.

Committee Visits
The Committee discussed visits to two provinces, the visit to the Northern Cape and another to the Eastern Cape municipalities.

The Chairperson of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, Mr T Mofokeng, told members that he had agreed with Mr Mokgobi to split the members and have some members visiting one province and other members visiting the other at the same time.

This was being done to save time said the Chairperson and he asked if members were comfortable with the idea of splitting membership visits?

Mr J Gunda (ID) said he was not comfortable with the rationale of splitting membership visits. He wanted to know why all members should not visit both provinces. He felt the visits were an integral part of the Committee’s oversight function over provinces and suggested shifting the dates in order to accommodate everybody who wanted to visit both provinces.

Mr Bloem said it was very important for all the members to visit both provinces especially for the benefit of new members who needed to see what was really happening on the ground. He also felt splitting membership would not be a good idea and suggested that perhaps the two committees should cut some of their activities in order to allow time to visit both provinces.

Mr Watson agreed with Mr Bloem, saying that even though he would have endorsed the idea of splitting membership, the point about new members was valid. He too felt they needed to be afforded every opportunity to get to grips with their work.

Mr W Faber (DA) suggested that the concerns militating against splitting the membership visits were very valid but also on the other hand the time constraints raised by the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development could not be ignored. He invited both Chairpersons to reconsider the issue and carefully examine the proposal by Mr Bloem to cut some of the activities for both committees in order to create time and opportunity for all members to visit both provinces.

Besides the issue of the visits, all members were unanimous in agreeing to adopt the entire draft programme subject to any further necessary changes that may arise in future.

The meeting was adjourned.

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