The Committee met briefly to discuss its draft programme, as tabled. Members asked whether the Department was likely to table any bills this year, pointing out that it seemed very late if it was intending to do so, and also indicated that the Deputy Minister had, earlier in the year, pointed out that certain issues were still being contested and that these would only be included in a bill once more clarity had been reached. The Committee noted that the study tour was not mentioned, and the Chairperson reported back that the Committee Section was jibbing against granting permission, since the Committee had already engaged in a joint tour, but he was pursuing the issue. This Committee had some leeway to undertake more oversight visits than other committees. Members pointed out some clashing dates, but were assured that this was being dealt with. The Chairperson mentioned that he had received a letter of complaint about the actions of the Minister, from the South African Municipal Workers Union, and he wished to get some guidance from Members, and would also discuss the matter with the Chairpersons’ Forum. It was noted that public hearings were to be held in October, and one Member suggested that perhaps these should be held on consecutive days, even if this did involve meeting on a Friday. Members indicated that they would prioritise the workshop on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, and would try to conclude this within one day. It was agreed that, if at all possible, it would be useful for the Committee also to receive training on conflict management from an organisation that also trained the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. A Member gave feedback, both positive and negative, on a seminar recently attended in Durban and cautioned that the Committee should try to ascertain whether value for money would be received before registering for these events. The Chairperson noted that the Report must be summarised in a more easily readable format.
Draft Committee programme
The Chairperson tabled the draft Committee programme, and stated that when the Members last met with the Department of Cooperative Affairs and Traditional Governance (COGTA), it had been agreed that the Committee must pursue, discuss and possibly have an additional briefing on some issues. He pointed out that this still needed to be done; for example the funding of ward committees was not finalized, although the understanding was that the briefing by the Department would be followed with further information.
A programme of the Committee’s planned work had been circulated, but this was still in draft form. The Committee would now have the opportunity to discuss what additional matters could be taken on. The Committee also needed to adopt the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (MBAPRMA), which allowed Parliament to interact with the Executive in a different way. He tabled a proposal for a workshop on this Act. In addition, this draft programme indicated what training the Committee intended to do, which would be crucial to its functioning and the quality of its output.
Mr P Smith (IFP) was concerned that the COGTA should be telling the Committee whether it intended to table any Bills. He did not know whether the cutoff point had been reached. He presumed that July was the deadline for tabling Bills in Parliament. If that was the case, then there would be no legislation done by November because two meetings would not be sufficient for processing of any Bills. He asked whether the Department needed more time.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to confirm whether there were any Bills tabled before Parliament.
The Committee Secretary responded that there were no other Bills before Parliament.
The Chairperson pointed out the Deputy Minister, when speaking on the matter earlier, had indicated that one of the reasons for delay was that some of the proposals were contentious. Once these had been further discussed a Bill would then be brought to the Committee. He had gained the impression from the Deputy Minister that COGTA was going to prioritize the bills. The Deputy Minister was responsible for co-coordinating legislation.
Mr Smith stated that he was under the impression that the bill dealing with provincial support would have been tabled.
Mr Smith noted that the draft programme made no mention of a study tour.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee had recently returned from a joint trip, and there was strong debate as to whether permission would be granted for the study tour. However, he had not given up on this and would continue to try and negotiate. In addition to the international trip that was requested, the Committee was listed amongst those committees that had some extra leeway in terms of numbers of oversight visits. The Members would collectively identify areas that were critical and would prioritise them for oversight. He also stated that the Committee should plan a follow up of an area they visited, and, or alternatively, a new area which had not been visited before.
Ms M Wegner (DA) said that the proposed programme for the ad hoc committee had scheduled deliberations for the 26th (month not mentioned), but this was the same day as the Service Delivery matters were to be debated in the House. All Members should be attending the House.
Ms D Nkhengethwa (ANC) stated that she was also scheduled for another meeting.
Mr Smith asked about the date of 2 September.
The Chairperson responded by saying that the debate had been postponed for the following week, or would be pushed forward.
Ms Nkhengethwa stated that her impressions of what would happen came from reliable sources. She also proposed that Members should finalise the Portfolio Committee Programme. Some issues were not included there. She asked when the Committee was going to receive mid –year or Annual Reports from the Department. She suggested that the Members should adopt this programme in the following week.
The Chairperson suggested that the programme should include provision for the Committee to adopt the Ghana-Indonesian points. There was also a session report to be adopted. He stated that he would write a report on what the Committee had done, and this would then need to be adopted. The Committee must ensure that it met the deadline for the submission of reports.
The Chairperson noted that he had received a letter from the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) about the Municipal Systems Amendment Act, alleging that the Minister had failed to follow some of his obligations. He personally had not had experience of this type of complaint before and asked Members for their input on how to deal with this. He would also discuss the letter with his colleagues in the Chairpersons’ Forum, since this was a co-operative governance issue.
Mr Smith thought that the matters set down for discussion on 2 and 9 November were interesting but he was not sure whether the Committee would be able to deal with them.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee should finalise its discussion.
Ms Nkhengethwa asked why the public hearings could not be held on two consecutive days to bring the public hearings to a close quickly.
The Chairperson asked whether members had a problem with meeting on Fridays.
Mr Smith responded that it would be very inconvenient because Members had other meetings also on that day. He would prefer to avoid meeting on Friday unless it was absolutely necessary.
Ms Nkhengethwa suggested that the public hearings should move to 14 and 15 October, instead of 14 and 17 October, to finalise them.
Mr Smith said that he had earlier been under the impression that Ms Nkhengethwa was suggesting that the Committee should meet regularly on Fridays, and he had been reluctant to that, but he was amenable to her suggestion if it only involved one Friday.
Mr J Matshoba (ANC) felt the Committee should stick to the dates earlier agreed upon.
The Chairperson stated that there was no agreement on those dates, and if the Committee were to meet on a Friday, this would be done as a once-off arrangement. He agreed that Ms Nkhengethwa’s suggestion made sense, and it would be in the public interest to conclude the hearings on consecutive days. However, the Committee would take a final decision on this at a later meeting.
The Chairperson then referred to the training programmes. He suggested that the Committee Workshop on the budgetary review and recommendations should be held first. He suggested that Members in each caucus should receive any relevant documentation and review it in advance, so that this workshop could be concluded in a single day.
The Committee Secretary said, in regard to the budgets and financial statements from the Department, that the training, although not included formally in the programme as yet, was scheduled for the week of 12 to 16 October, and there might be a day free in that week.
The Chairperson noted that the topic of conflict management was not on the agenda. He pointed out that there was an organisation called Accord, which was based in Durban but was operational on the entire continent. He pointed out that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation used this organisation to train their officials. He suggested that the Committee Members have a look at the Accord website. It offered a three-day programme on conflict management, which was relevant to the work of Members of Parliament.
Mr Smith pointed out that he was not sure if the Committee could find a space for a three-day programme, although he agreed this was a necessary area. He suggested that if the Committee found itself with free time it should do the programme, but if there were other priorities, then it should be left aside for the moment.
Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) stated that some Members really needed the training, unlike Mr Smith who had vast experience.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) concurred with Ms Segale-Diswai on the need for the training.
Mr W Doman (DA) stated that he had attended a seminar in Durban and he felt that he should report back. He stated that one of the Committee Members had delivered a very good presentation. However, the seminar had cost R 7500 and half of the presentations were never given. In addition, on one of the professors who had given a presentation had made some ludicrous statements that were not worth listening to. Whilst there were some positive gains from this seminar, the Committee must be careful not to waste money on attending seminars that were really not worthwhile.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Doman for highlighting both the positive and negative aspects.
The Chairperson stated that the recommendations must be summarised. He would ask the researchers to rewrite the report in a more accessible manner. The Committee should draw recommendations and observations. He highlighted that the researchers were not communicators.
The meeting was adjourned.