The Contents Advisor to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development had assisted in preparing the latest draft of the Ad Hoc Committee's report on the Commission for Gender Equality Forensic Investigation. The Committee noted a gratifying improvement on the previous draft. Members made further input and all these would be incorporated in the final report ready for consideration and adoption on 01 March 2011.
Members also discussed some of the findings and recommendations, and agreed that that for the Commission to function, the commissioners' vacancies must be filled, the Commission's Act must be amended, and the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions 2007 (the Kader Asmal Report) must be considered by Parliament.
The Committee deferred consideration of all outstanding minutes to the next meeting.
Election of Acting Chairperson
Ms Tebogo Sepanya, Committee Secretary, called for nominations for an Acting Chairperson. Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) nominated Adv S Holomisa (ANC); Ms D Robinson (DA) seconded.
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) was duly elected Acting Chairperson.
Apologies were received from the Chairperson, Ms D Ramodibe (ANC).
Officials present included Mr Sipiwo Matshoba, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher, and Ms Christine Silkstone, Content Advisor, Committee Section, Parliament.
Adoption of minutes
The Committee had planned to adopt a complete set of outstanding minutes, however these were not ready. Insufficient printing capacity was noted as a reason for the difficulties in producing the minutes.
Ms Robinson commented that this was a very serious problem. The Committee could not draw up its final report without a complete set of minutes.
The Chairperson agreed. However, he observed that, since this was an Ad Hoc Committee, the staff members assisting it did so on an ad hoc basis. They had other, permanent duties.
This item was deferred until the next meeting, on 01 March 2011.
Ad Hoc Committee’s draft report: deliberations
The Chairperson thanked Ms Christine Silkstone, who served also as Content Advisor to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, for her assistance with the revised draft of the Ad Hoc Committee’s report (the report), copies of which had already been circulated to Members.
The Chairperson assumed that Members would have already read the report. It was a great improvement on what Members had seen the previous week (Tuesday, 15 February 2011).
The Chairperson said that Members would consider, deliberate, and make corrections. He had already prepared his own comments and corrections.
At his stage, the Chairperson was hopeful that the Ad Hoc Committee could complete its work in the same meeting, but he later advised that the Committee should meet again on 01 March 2011 in order to adopt the final version of the report.
Ms Silkstone outlined the structure of the report. There was an introduction dealing with the Ad Hoc Committee's establishment and its mandate, followed by the composition of the Ad Hoc Committee, key findings of the Auditor-General and the Public Protector's reports (24 November 2010), the Commission's progress report (26 January 2011), the progress report from the Auditor-General and the Public Protector (31 January 2011), the presentation from the National Treasury (31 January 2011), the presentation from the Commission's staff (31 January 2011) – Ms Silkstone had kept this short, since the Ad Hoc Committee's mandate did not really focus on that, the Ad Hoc Committee's responses, and, finally, recommendations.
Ms Silkstone read the report paragraph by paragraph and noted that documents presented to the Ad Hoc Committee were listed in the report.
Members agreed, inter alia:
•On the use of italics for the titles of reports cited in the report;
•To give reasons for the extension of the Ad Hoc Committee's deadline;
•On the correction of any typographical errors, in particular, in paragraph 4;
•On some changes in wording to elucidate the meaning;
•That the report's introduction should include an explanation of what the forensic investigation was about, for the benefit of members of the public unfamiliar with the background;
•That, in the paragraph on the composition of the Ad Hoc committee, the party affiliations of Members of the Ad Hoc Committee should be underlined, with particular attention to the Congress of the People (COPE), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP);
•That, in the above paragraph, a Member whose name had been omitted should be included;
•That the fact that the Ad Hoc Committee had received a letter from the former chairperson of the Commission asking for the opportunity to appear before the Ad Hoc Committee but that the Ad Hoc Committee had agreed not to agree to the former chairperson's request should be recorded in the report;
•That the reason for the Ad Hoc Committee's declining to entertain the former chairperson's request should explained, namely, that the matter of the former chairperson was sub judice;
•That names of committees should be given in full; and,
•That acts should be named in full, including the year and number, with particular reference to paragraph 9.5.
•That the headings findings and responses would precede recommendations.
Ms S Rwexana (COPE) suggested that there should be some elaboration on the presentation by the staff of the Commission (31 January 2011).
Ms Robinson observed that the terms of office of the commissioners were coming to an end. It was necessary to know exactly when the commissioners' terms would end.
Ms P Duncan (DA) agreed.
Ms Levendale said that three commissioners would reach the end of their terms of office in October 2011, and three in April 2012.
The Chairperson reiterated the above, and noted that the commissioners' terms of office were staggered.
Ms Robinson also said that it was important to have an overlap in the terms of the Commissioners, and that there was a need for a thorough overhaul of everything.
The Chairperson argued that the Ad Hoc Committee did not press for a permanent appointment of a chairperson of the Commission as acting chairperson had sufficient powers to carry out his or her duties.
The Chairperson said that the most urgent matter was to appoint commissioners to fill the vacancies in terms of the Commission's Act. The Portfolio Committee on Women, Children, Youth, and People with Disabilities could deal with that matter.
Ms Rwexana referred to the Public Protector’s recommendation that the vacancies on the board of the Commission should be filled; the Ad Hoc Committee should further endorse this recommendation, since there was a shortage of commissioners. There was also a need for Parliament to adopt the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions 2007 (the Kader Asmal Report), since some provisions of the Commission's Act were not in line with the Constitution.
The Chairperson noted that the Commission's Act was a flawed law, in terms of which the commissioners' vacancies should be filled.
Ms Robinson said that the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development had, in the past, failed in its duty to appoint commissioners, so it fell to the Ad Hoc Committee to ensure continuity and rectify the situation.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Portfolio Committee recently responsible was that on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disabilities.
The Chairperson said, firstly, that for the Commission to function, the commissioners' vacancies must be filled. Secondly, the Commission's Act must be amended. Thirdly, the Kader Asmal Report, especially in relation to the Commission, must be considered, although not necessarily adopted.
The Chairperson said that the Ad Hoc Committee would not adopt the report at this meeting. The corrections noted by Members would be incorporated by the staff, who would prepare the final report for adoption at the Ad Hoc Committee's next meeting, to be held on Tuesday, 01 March 2011, at 09h30, in room E337, third floor, National Assembly Wing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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