Economic Affairs Select Committee Strategic Planning Workshop arrangements, Committee Programme & 2009 Annual Report

NCOP Economic and Business Development

15 February 2010
Chairperson: Mr F Adams (ANC; Western Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the First-Term Programme and it was adopted with amendments. The issues affecting the Northern Cape and the necessity of prioritising and visiting the province were discussed. It was determined that a visit to the Northern Cape would be scheduled for after constituency period. The proposed dates for the Strategic Planning Workshop were amended and it was agreed that the workshop would be held from 8 to 12 March 2010. It was also agreed that an independent facilitator would be appointed for the workshop. The Oversight Visit to Limpopo from 1 to 5 March was discussed and many members felt cost saving measures should be taken on travel arrangements. Finally the Committee Annual Report 2009 was discussed and adopted with amendments. 

Meeting report

Strategic Planning Workshop

The Chairperson reminded members that at the last committee meeting in 2009 it was decided that a skeleton programme be drawn up for the first quarter. A strategic planning workshop, where a five-year plan of action could be decided upon for the committee, was to be included in this programme. The programme was then opened to members for discussion.  


Mr M Maine (ANC; North West) wished to discuss where ‘outside parliament’ the Strategic Planning Workshop would be held.


Mr K Sinclair (COPE; Northern Cape) pointed to the proposed workshop dates of 23 to 26 February, and stated that since Fridays had been set aside for political work he felt these times would be difficult to adhere to. An important issue that was not reflected on the programme was the “dilemma” in the Northern Cape. The large mining developments taking place in the province needed to be investigated – especially how the mines were rolling out their activities.


Mr B Mnguni (ANC; Free State) proposed that the dates of the workshop be made from the 23 to 25 February, as he co-chaired a Joint Committee meeting held on Fridays. Echoing the sentiments of Mr Sinclair, he asked that the priority of Limpopo and the Northern Cape should be determined within the programme.


Mr D Gamede (ANC; Kwa-Zulu Natal) said that the Kwa-Zulu Natal legislature was to be opened on 23 to 25  February, preventing himself and Mr A Lees (DA; Kwa-Zulu Natal) from attending the workshop.


Ms E van Lingen (DA; Eastern Cape) stated that between 23 and 26 February she was to act as an alternate for another committee in the Eastern Cape, but asked for  more information on the Strategic Planning Workshop. She also referred to the expected electricity price increases and asked when the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) was to appear before the Committee.


Mr A Nyambi (ANC; Mpumalanga) asked for more clarity on the Strategic Planning Workshop, whether it was to be just for the Committee or the entire department.


Mr Adams started by responding to Mr Sinclair. The Northern Cape was not off the agenda and had been discussed with the chairpersons of Local Government and of Agriculture and Rural Development. A Management Committee meeting was hopefully to be held within the week as the Northern Cape was recognised as a very challenging and urgent matter, especially because a lot of promises were made by companies to the Premier with no results. The Northern Cape would definitely be scheduled straight after the constituency period.


Ms van Lingen reminded the Chairperson that the Committee had made promises and commitments to the Northern Cape long before the Limpopo Province was added to the agenda, but that nothing had come of this. It was necessary to stick to commitments made


Mr Adams replied that Limpopo fell under a parliamentary programme and this therefore superseded the Committee programme. A trip had been scheduled to oversee the Northern Cape, but the Committee was persuaded to attend to Limpopo first. He reiterated that the Northern Cape was still on the radar and the commitments that had been made to it still stood.


Mr Maine voiced concerns that there would not be time to hold a Strategic Planning Workshop at any other time due to Parliament’s tight schedule. He suggested perhaps starting the workshop on a Sunday and that two days would be sufficient for strategic planning.


The Chairperson acknowledged this but stated that when deciding on the dates for the workshop, all dates of other engagements had been considered and worked around – with the possible exception of the opening of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Legislature. The parliamentary programme allowed no other time for such a workshop and Strategic Planning was highly necessary in order to guide the Committee and provide the department with a five-year plan.


Mr Maine said that he agreed that Strategic Planning was needed in order to guide the Committee, but felt that it would not be possible to plan effectively with four members unable to attend the workshop. Ms Chen (DA; Gauteng), Ms van Lingen, Mr Gamede and Mr Lees would all be attending other engagements. To ensure that all were “singing from the same hymn book” it was necessary that everyone should attend the planning.


Ms van Lingen pointed out that the Free State Legislature was to be opened on 26 February – which was why she needed to act as an alternate for a committee in the Eastern Cape. This meant that Mr Mnguni would also be absent from the workshop.


Mr Maine apologised, stating that he too would be absent from the Strategic Planning as he had just remembered that the opening of the North West Province’s Legislature was on 25 February.


Mr Adams stated that the workshop dates were merely proposed and not set in stone. If the Committee felt that the Strategic Planning Workshop should be forgone then it was not an issue.


Mr Sinclair said that, in principle, everyone agreed that it was necessary to have a Strategic Planning session. The finer details were of concern, such as what was to be achieved by the workshop and who would partner with the workshop. If a sustainable strategic plan was to be achieved, other departments and entities would have to be involved. Taking into account the engagements of other members, a two-day workshop could possibly be held on 23 and 24 February.


Mr Mnguni expressed a similar view to Mr Sinclair, further stating that it was necessary to prioritise the strategic planning above the opening of a legislature. Without a strategic plan to guide it, the Committee would have no direction. The opening of a legislature involved only listening on the members’ behalf, while the Committee required their active engagement to draw up a sustainable plan of action.


Mr Adams replied that members could be called upon to present at the opening of legislatures and it was necessary that they attend these engagements. However, on 9 March a Women’s Day debate was to be held. He put to the Committee that they leave the debate early and engage in strategic planning from 10 to 12 March.


Mr Gamede stated that if the strategic planning was carried out in a piecemeal fashion it would not serve its purpose. Two days would not allocate enough time to all entities and departments and would not do justice to their concerns, thereby achieving very little.


Mr Adams agreed, proposing that the Chief Whip be asked to excuse the Committee from the debate and the whole week of 8 to 12 March be dedicated to the Strategic Planning Workshop.


Mr Gamede added that departments could then be called to attend the workshop to make presentations.


The Chairperson stated that the strategic planning was therefore proposed to take place from the 8 to 12 March.


Committee Programme
Members’ attention was then brought to the programme’s scheduled Oversight Visit to Limpopo from the 1 to 5 March. This was a “Parliament Goes to the People” initiative as called by the Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the House Chairperson. A task team had visited the area in 2009 and held community meetings. The main focus of the visit would be mining, with energy issues and economic development also being addressed. Documentation regarding this would be sent to members.


Ms van Lingen asked for further information on the visit. Would all Committees be attending the visit, and would all Committees cover the same area or take different routes?


The Chairperson replied that all Committees except the Finance Select Committee and Appropriations Committee would attend the Oversight Visit. The task team had identified which areas were of importance and the documents that were to be handed out would cover all concerns fully.


Responding to Ms van Lingen’s earlier question about NERSA and Electricity price increases, he stated that NERSA had held public hearings – the findings of which still needed to be made known. There was therefore still time before any price hikes were implemented and the Committee would contact them before this.


A joint workshop with the Tourism Committee was to be held on 16 March, replacing a previous engagement with the Department of Energy. The Committee meeting would still be held on Tuesday 17 March. It was undertaken that work would be streamlined and synergised between the Houses of Parliament to cut out duplication.


Ms van Lingen agreed with this but said that the Committee’s work should not be sidelined or compromised through joint presentations. The Committee was there at “huge remuneration” and needed to deliver.


The Chairperson stated that the programme scheduled 9 March for a Budget Vote presentation by the Department of Mineral Resources. It was agreed by all members that since the Committee’s Strategic Planning Workshop now fell over this date, the department could be asked to make the presentation at the workshop as they were part of the planning.


Mr Adams proposed that the workshop be held outside of the city, in the “bush” away from cell phone reception and email so as to fully dedicate time to strategic planning.


The programme outlined that 29 March to the 9 April was to be devoted to Constituency Week.


In reply to Mr Sinclair asked for clarity on who was responsible for the arrangements for the Oversight Visit to Limpopo, the Chairperson said that the Committee Section was responsible for these arrangements.


Ms van Lingen said that arrangements were always made for members to stay in cities, usually at four-star hotels. This was not necessary as guest houses in smaller towns would work just as well.


Mr Gamede said that hotels in bigger cities were often chosen for security reasons.


The Chairperson said that the problem with rural areas was that there was no disabled- friendly accommodation available, but agreed that guest houses in towns were a viable option.


Mr Nyambi said that the programme was one which affected all NCOP members and asked that it be adopted and put to rest.


The Chairperson agreed with this and reiterated that the Strategic Planning Workshop would be held from 8 to 12 March. All members were in agreement. If members had anything that they felt should be discussed there, it should be put in writing to the secretary by 26 February.


Mr Sinclair raised the question of who would facilitate the Strategic Planning session, as this was the most important person in the success of the process. An outside facilitator was recommended.


Mr Adams replied that this would be taken under consideration, but stated that the Committee’s budget would have to be kept in mind. It was put to the other members.


Mr Maine was not in agreement.


Mr Mnguni agreed


Ms Chen did not think it was necessary. While a facilitator was important, value for money needed to be considered.


Mr Gamede agreed that there was a need for an independent facilitator.


Mr Nyambi also agreed.


Ms van Lingen stated that she did not want the workshop to be “hijacked on a political level” and would rather have an independent facilitator without an agenda.


The Chairperson acknowledged the need for an outside facilitator and stated that the administrative staff would see to this.


Ms van Lingen asked what legacy the Committee had of the last five years. This should be looked at by all members in order to identify weaknesses or flaws in the Committee’s operations and thus work on them at the Strategic Planning Workshop.


Mr Adams replied that this would be the first time the Committee in its current form would undertake strategic planning. Previously the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Mineral Resources, the Department of Energy and the Department of International Relations were overseen by one committee, known as Economic and Foreign Affairs. The information on previous dealings of this Committee could however be gathered for members.


The Chairperson proposed that the programme be adopted as amended. All members accepted this.


Committee Annual Report 2009

Mr Sinclair pointed to the budget as set out in the Annual Report and especially to the cost of travelling. Travel agencies seemed to charge parliament exorbitantly. He asked that those making the travel arrangements attempted to get the best value for money by choosing the best of three quotations. It was not necessary to stay in the most expensive accommodation and bookings should be made in advance in order to save money.


Ms van Lingen asked about the balance of the budget left over – an amount of R267 957. Would this money be utilised for Parliament for the People? If this money was left over could this not be used to fund an Oversight Visit to the Northern Cape?


Mr Adams stated that the balance carried over was to be used to run the Strategic Planning Workshop and the Oversight Visit to Limpopo. Members needed to keep in mind that it was close to Easter and therefore still peak season.


Ms van Lingen stated that with a large group block booking, discounts were available. Those responsible for the arrangements needed to ensure the best price possible with the applicable discounts so that the Committee was accountable for the money it spent.


Mr Gamede was in agreement with the issue of travel agents.


The Chairperson stated that the Committee Section was in charge of both travel arrangements and for overseeing the budget. If the Committee over or under- spent it could call on them.


Mr Sinclair asked what the status of their report from the Oversight Visit of 2 to 6 November was.


The Chairperson replied that the report had been emailed to chairs of Committees but not ordinary members. The report had not been adopted yet and would only be included in the annual report once adopted.


Mr Sinclair asked if it was possible to fast track the adoption of the report as it did not reflect well on the Committee to have an outstanding report three months after the Oversight Visit.


Mr Gamede proposed that the report be emailed to all members and then adopted once the Trade and International Relations Committee meeting was adjourned the next day.


Mr Adams approved of this and proposed that their Annual Report be adopted with amendments. All members agreed.


Finally the Chairperson announced that there was a Referral for the Adoption of South Africa into the International Renewable Energy Association (IREA).


The meeting was adjourned.


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