Select Committee on Public Services Reports on Budget

NCOP Public Services

24 August 2009
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Public Works was supposed to brief the Committee on its Expanded Public Works Programme. However, the Minister of Public Works had written to the Committee requesting a postponement as he had commitments elsewhere. The Committee expressed dissatisfaction at the timing of the letter and noted that the Minister was not required to be present when the briefing took place. Members decided that all their concerns should be conveyed in a to the Minister. Members also adopted the Committee Budget Vote Reports as well as the minutes from a previous meeting.

Meeting report

Ms Claudine Adams, Committee Secretary, said that the Chairperson-Mr Sibande-could not attend the meeting, as there was a death in his family. In terms of rule 92 of the NCOP, an acting Chairperson had to be elected from the remaining Members of the Committee. Nominations were called for and Mr Jacobs was duly elected.

The Acting Chairperson requested that everyone stand and observe a moment of silence before the commencement of the meeting.

Department of Public Works on its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
The Chairperson noted that the Department of Public Works was scheduled to brief the Committee on its EPWP. However, the Department had sent a letter the previous day, stating that it was unable to attend and requested a postponement.

The Chairperson asked the Secretary to read out the letter- which was written by the Minister of Public Works and delivered on 24 August 2009. In the letter, the Minister requested a postponement of today’s meeting and apologised for his delayed response as he was briefing the provincial cabinets of the Northern Cape and Free State with the EPWP team, for the next two weeks.

Ms M Themba (ANC; Mpumalanga) acknowledged the letter but stressed that the apology should not have been sent at the last minute even if the Minister had commitments somewhere else. Officials in the Department who had received the Committee’s invitation should have brought it to the Minister’s attention immediately. Moreover, the Committee did not exclusively request for the Minister to be present and any capable person in the Department could have briefed the Committee. If the Committee sought clarity on any issue the Minister would have been informed. She stressed that the Committee also had a programme and that the late apology was unacceptable.

Mr H Groenewald (DA; North West) strongly supported Ms Themba and said that the Deputy Minister or officials could have addressed the Committee instead. He emphasized that Members had a lot of work to do, and that their time was being wasted.

Mr R Tau (ANC; Northern Cape) suggested that the Committee outline its concerns in a letter to the Minister. The Minister was accountable to Parliament and not to the Provinces and that Parliament should “be the first choice”. Within two weeks the Committee would embark on the Provincial Week and one of their duties would be to explain the impact and benefits of Phase Two of the EPWP. However, the Committee had not yet been updated on this matter and therefore could not brief the provinces adequately. He expressed dissatisfaction that the apology was only tendered a day before the date of the committee meeting. He pointed out that in the previous plan, the EPWP programme was the responsibility of the Deputy Minister and not the Minister, but acknowledged that this responsibility may have shifted now. He emphasised that the letter should clearly state that the Committee wanted a briefing on the EPWP and not the presence of the Minister.

Mr Tau referred to the meeting of 23 June 2009, noting that the Committee had taken a decision that the Department must present its plan for the EPWP to make monitoring possible. In addition, he recalled that the Minister was present when the Committee adopted its programme, which included a briefing on the EPWP.

The Chairperson emphasised that the letter to the Minister should express the sentiments of the Committee and also that the Minister should delegate, and not centralise power so that other people had a chance to proceed when he was not around.

Consideration and Adoption of Budget Vote Reports Vote 5, 26 and 33
The Chairperson asked Members to comment on the reports and to propose any changes. No changes were proposed and the reports were adopted without amendments.

Consideration and Adoption of the Minutes
The Chairperson asked if there were any issues arising from the minutes. Members were satisfied that the report was an accurate reflection of the proceeding and adopted it without amendments.


The Chairperson asked Ms Adams to inform members about an invitation received from the Minister of Human Settlement, Mr Tokyo Sexwale. The Minister invited Members to the “2009 Women’s Build Houses” handover ceremony at the Thekwane North Township, Mbombela Local Municipality, Nelspruit, on Friday 28 August. The Department of Human Settlements would cover accommodation and flights and Members interested in going to the event had to liaise with the Secretary.


The Chairperson reminded members of the joint sitting on Thursday 27 August 2009.


The meeting was adjourned.



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