Submissions procedure, Researcher appointment, Draft Committee Report on 2009 submissions: deliberations

Constitutional Review Committee

12 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr S Holomisa (ANC); Mr B Mnguni (ANC, Free State)
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Meeting Summary

Although the Committee did not have a quorum, which meant that no final decisions could be taken, Members considered and discussed the draft Minutes of meetings held on 19 May 2010, 21 July 2010 and 23 July 2010. They raised and deliberated on matters arising from those meetings.

It was noted that three CVs and applications had been received for appointment of a researcher on the Sepedi/Sesotho sa Leboa language dispute were discussed, but Members deliberated whether the appointment was in fact necessary, as one Member suggested that the Committee already had sufficient information from the public hearings, and merely needed to collate it, while another suggested that it would be preferable to seek research capacity in-house.

It was noted that the Committee would wait for more comprehensive submissions on the National House of Traditional Leaders before moving forward.

Members noted that the Legal Resources Centre and the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit of the University of Cape Town had written to the Committee expressing their concerns about submissions for Constitutional Review that had been made to the Committee, and asking that they be given a chance to comment on those submissions. Members agreed that this was the first time that such a request had been made, and one Member suggested that the Parliamentary Secretariat be asked to advise on the procedure. Other Members however felt that the request was premature; firstly, this Committee had not yet made a decision so it was work in progress, and secondly, should the submission be accepted, the proposals contained in it would then be drafted in the form of a legislative amendment, and at that stage members of the public would have the full right to comment. They therefore suggested that the two institutions be advised that they would have the opportunity to comment at a later stage, depending on the decision of this Committee.

The Draft Report on the 2009 Public Submissions was tabled, and some proposals were made for minor grammatical changes, for alterations to ensure consistency, and for amplification of certain points. It was agreed that the report would be re-drafted before being presented to a subsequent meeting for adoption.

Meeting report

Adoption of Draft Minutes
The draft Minutes for 18 May 2010 were tabled.

Co-Chairperson Mnguni noted that there was an omission on page 2. He noted that Mr A Ainslie (ANC) had tendered his apologies.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) proposed that the minutes be adopted, subject to that change.

Co-Chairperson Mnguni noted that there was not a quorum at this meeting, but that the minutes would be formally adopted at the next meeting.

The draft Minutes for 21 July 2010 were tabled.

Members agreed that these minutes be formally adopted at the next meeting.

The draft Minutes of 23 July 2010 were tabled.

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) noted that there was a spelling error, and that the word 'ikosi' on page four should be “inkosi”.

Members agreed that the Minutes should be formally adopted at the next meeting.

Matters arising from previous meetings:
Sepedi / Sesotho sa Leboa language issues

Co-Chairperson Mnguni asked that the Committee should proceed to the matters of concern arising from the minutes of the past meetings.

Mr D Bloem (COPE, Free State) suggested that the Committee should stand over further discussion on the matters of concern until the Committee had a quorum.

Mr Mnguni noted that the Committee was only one person short of a quorum, and suggested that those Members present should rather proceed.

He noted the Sepedi vs Sesotho sa Leboa comments on the draft minutes.

Several Committee Members agreed that this was an emotional matter that required patience and further probing.

Shortlisting of candidates for researcher
Mr Bloem wanted to know why the issue of the shortlisting of candidates for the researcher for the Sepedi/Sesotho issue was on the agenda again.

Mr A Ainslie (ANC) suggested that the Committee should derive input from the public hearing and make a decision thereafter. He thought that the Committee already had sufficient information, should consolidate all of this, and that no researcher should be appointed for the moment.

Mr N Koornhof (COPE) noted that the Committee only had the CVs of three candidates. He suggested that those candidates be invited to attend the hearings and that they then should advise the Committee whether more research was indeed necessary.

Ms Mncube noted that there were internal researchers within Parliament and that the Committee did have its own researcher as well. She thought that research capacity should first be sourced from within Parliament, before going to outside sources. In addition, she felt that if any presentations were to be given to the Committee then all should be considered.

National House of Traditional Leaders
Mr Holomisa asked that the Committee should move on to matters arising from the minutes of 21 July. He asked where Mr A Watson (DA, Mpumalanga) was.

The Committee Secretary noted that Mr Watson had tendered an apology.

Mr Holomisa proposed that, in regard to the National House of Traditional Leaders, the Committee should wait for more comprehensive submissions before moving forward. This matter was deemed as very important.

Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (LRG) correspondence
Mr Holomisa highlighted the background that had led to submission of a letter to Parliament from the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) and the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit (LRG) of the University of Cape Town. After the Committee's last meeting, the two organisations had written a letter to the Chairperson and Parliament, stating that they had some concerns about submissions that had been made. The LRC and the LRG had thus requested that Parliament allow them, and other representatives of key rural community-based organisations, to make representations on the submissions that had been made, before the House deliberated on the submissions tabled during the public hearing.

Mr Holomisa noted that on an annual basis, Parliament issued notices calling on the public to make submissions as to parts of the Constitution that should be reviewed. After hearing their submissions, the Committee would deliberate on them. He added that he had not come across a request where people were objecting to the submissions and requested another hearing to put forward their point of view.

Mr Swart agreed that Parliament was entitled to invite a person who had made a proposal about a Constitutional review to come back to clarify issues, but that he too had never heard of a situation when someone wanted to oppose a submission. If Parliament, having heard a submission, agreed that it raised valid points, the Parliamentary process would allow for the proposals to be brought forward by way of a Constitutional amendment, and normally it would be at that stage that a person would be entitled to express their opposition to such amendment. He thought that opening up the process again at this stage would simply complicate matters. The Committee was already struggling with finalising all the submissions.

Adv Swart thus proposed that the Committee should indicate to the LRC and the LRG that they would have the full right to raise their objections at a later stage, should there be a Constitutional amendment proposed as a result of the public submissions.

Ms Mncube, referring to the final sentence of the draft minutes of 19 May 2010, wondered if perhaps the LRG and the LRC had misunderstood the position.

Mr Ainslie agreed with Mr Swart that this was indeed an irregular request, and was also premature because the Committee had not reached a final decision and this was still a work in progress.

Mr Holomisa agreed.

Mr Bloem suggested that the Committee should perhaps afford an opportunity to the LRG and LRC to brief the Committee on their thinking.

Adv T Masutha (ANC) noted that something of a similar nature might well occur again. He suggested that the Committee should seek the advice of the Parliamentary Secretariat as to the proper procedure.

Mr Holomisa noted that there was no harm in seeking advice, but that the Committee should also be guided by its own decisions as well.

Draft report on 2009 Public submissions
The Committee’s draft Report on the 2009 Public Submissions was tabled.

Mr Holomisa noted the procedure to be followed regarding the consideration of the Draft Report on the 2009 public submissions.

Mr Koornhof referred to paragraph 2, and the submission that had been made by Mr Jerome Veldsman. He suggested that a few sentences should be added as it was currently only a summary. He also could not remember whether a conclusive decision had been made.

Ms Mncube referred to the submission that had been made by NABCAT. She emphasised that the Committee needed to be more specific and not use the wording 'relevant committee' in the Report but rather put out, in full, the name of the committee that would be dealing with the matter.

Mr Mnguni sought clarity as to whether the Committee would be referring the matter to the Director-General of the specific department or to the portfolio committee. He thought that the Committee must establish the correct structure.

Ms Mncube added that there was not sufficient analysis in the summary of that section of the Report.

Mr Bloem noted that it was necessary to ensure uniformity in concluding paragraphs throughout the report.

Mr Ainslie agreed with Mr Bloem.

Mr Ainslie referred to page 4, and the reference to “ruling party”. He felt that this would comprise the wording “consultation by the parties” on that page.

Ms Mncube referred to page 5 of the Draft Report, which had stated that the Committee could not consider one of the submissions as it was not legible. She did not think that this was a particularly ethical comment.

Mr Bloem said that in fact the entire submission had been so unclear that the Committee could not even decipher who had made the submission.

Ms Mncube suggested that the Committee should then add the reasons why the submission had not been traced.

Mr Holomisa agreed that adding that information would be useful, as it would provide a background for those who had not being present in the meeting.

Mr Bloem proposed that the rest of the Report was acceptable.

Ms Mncube said that the Draft Report should now be re-written, effecting the changes. She requested that she should receive Reports before meetings.

Mr Mnguni noted that this Report had been circulated before the time. However, he added that the Committee Secretary should ensure that hard copies as well as electronic copies were received on time.

The meeting was adjourned.


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