A Member of the Democratic Alliance deplored the poor secretarial services which had impeded the Committee's progress.
With regard to paragraph 4.4, the Chairperson asked if any Member recalled what the Office of the Auditor-General said about whether Ms Nomboniso Gasa, the former chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality, had responded or not to the Auditor-General in respect of the Auditor-General’s findings on her conduct. He was especially sensitive to the matter of Ms Gasa, because she had made many statements about this Committee. A Democratic Alliance Member said that it should be clearly stated in the Committee's report whether or not Ms Gasa had or had not responded, because her willingness or unwillingness to respond was a reflection on Ms Gasa's attitude. There was similar discussion on paragraph 7. The committee researcher would verify these matters, and it was agreed that the Committee's report would indicate whether or not Ms Gasa had responded to the Auditor-General and the Office of the Public Protector. The Committee researcher later referred Members to the Auditor-General's report, according to which Ms Gasa was given the opportunity and did respond to the Auditor-General. The Committee researcher recommended rephrasing paragraph 4.4 to read like paragraph 4.7, and add the dates on which Ms Gasa and the Commission had responded to the Auditor-General.
The Chairperson noted that, from Ms Gasa's correspondence, Ms Gasa was disputing the contents of paragraph 7. This was why his original recommendation was that the Ad Hoc Committee should ask the AGSA and the OPP to give Ms Gasa another opportunity. This would close any loophole. A Democratic Alliance Member said the Committee could not make any recommendation unless it was very clear on paper in the Auditor-General and Public Protector’s reports.
The Chairperson advised that the Committee's researcher should tag the relevant parts of the Auditor-General and Public Protector’s reports and check on the matter. The Committee would take a decision afterwards. The report was not yet adopted, since the Committee’s researchers were expected to make some further investigation of uncertain points.
Draft minutes of previous meetings were circulated to Members for them to study in preparation for the 08 March 2011 meeting. Members lamented the delay in compiling a complete set of minutes.
Adv S Holomisa (ANC) continued to chair the Committee in the absence of Ms D Ramodibe (ANC).
The Chairperson welcomed Members and officials. Officials present included Mr David Dlali, Special Advisor to the Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Mr Sipiwo Matshoba, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Adv Princess Nonkosi Cetywayo, Office of the Speaker, Adv Kayalethu Zweni, from Parliament's Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy and now in the Office of the Speaker, Mr Pat Sasai, Office of the Speaker, and Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher.
Consideration and adoption of the Committee’s report
The Chairperson observed that some Members were having difficulty in obtaining documents in time. However, he had been able to obtain the latest draft report and had had the opportunity to read it and write in his comments. He mentioned that his secretary would arrive later in the meeting with copies for the Members. There were two versions of the draft report: one with the changes as indicated; the other in the format in which it was intended to be tabled to the National Assembly, after the Ad Hoc Committee had adopted it.
Members would recall that in the last meeting they had noted certain changes that had to be made. This was why there was the second version with the changes made.
Members should go through the draft report, paragraph by paragraph, and give their comments.
The Chairperson said that this must indicate what was being investigated: allegations of financial impropriety, maladministration and misconduct on the part of the Commission for Gender Equality. That seemed to have been covered correctly.
The Chairperson explained that this paragraph made reference to the Committee's reasons for seeking an extension of its deadline. |
Ms D Robinson (DA) complained of poor secretarial services which had hampered the Committee's work. It was unacceptable to receive documents at the last minute and then be expected to deliberate upon them.
The Chairperson acknowledged this, but asked if Members really wanted to include this in the report.
Ms Robinson said that this should not be included in the report but recorded in the minutes.
The Chairperson agreed.
The Chairperson said that the minutes would be dealt with later.
This dealt with the composition of the Committee. No comments were made.
Ms P Duncan (DA) said that more generous spacing was needed.
The Chairperson said that in the matter of Ms Nomboniso Gasa (Ms Gasa), the former chairperson of the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), “the Ad Hoc Committee, however, did not consider the request, as it relates to matters that are sub judice on account of the court case involving Ms Gasa, and this falls outside the Committee's” [mandate].
The Chairperson suggested a revised wording, to the effect that “The Committee, however, did not accede to the request, because the matter was sub judice.” He was sure that the Ad Hoc Committee would have considered Ms Gasa's request to appear before the Ad Hoc Committee. If he were doing the drafting, he would end the sentence with the words Ms Gasa, and delete the rest of the words - “falls outside the Committee's mandate”.
The Acting Chairperson pointed out the need for grammatical corrections.
Paragraph 4.4 [concerning the AGSA's report]
The Acting Chairperson observed that the Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) had given Ms Gasa a chance to respond to their findings; however, it was not stated whether the former chairperson of the Commission had responded. [Note: the Chairperson is referring here to events which took place before the formation of the Ad Hoc Committee.]
The Chairperson asked if any Member recalled what the AGSA had said about whether Ms Gasa had responded or not to the AGSA in respect of the AGSA's findings on her conduct.
Ms Crystal Levendale said that there was no reference in the document.
The Chairperson noted that he was especially sensitive to the matter of Ms Gasa, because she had made many statements about this Ad Hoc Committee. He wanted to minimise the opportunities for any more such statements.
Ms Robinson felt that after the researchers had checked up on the matter, it should be clearly stated in the Committee's report whether or not Ms Gasa had or had not responded, because her willingness or unwillingness to respond was a reflection on her attitude.
The Chairperson advised that, in his personal opinion, Ms Gasa should be given the chance to respond to the findings and allegations of the AGSA and the Office of the Public Protector (OPP); he emphasised that these were the findings not of the Committee but of the AGSA and OPP and it was to these bodies, not the Committee, that Ms Gasa should be given the chance to respond.
Ms Duncan said that Ms Gasa did mention certain things which were not to the satisfaction of the AGSA and the OPP. She suggested referring to previous minutes and to the records of the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).
The Chairperson asked if the information would not be found in the report itself of the AGSA.
AdvPrincess Nonkosi Cetywayo, Office of the Speaker, advised that it might be necessary to speak to the Office of the AGSA.
Mr David Dlali, Special Advisor to the Minister of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, said that to ask the Office of the AGSA would be to reopen a subject that had been closed. He was not sure of the impact of such action on the Committee's report.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee was indeed examining the reports of the AGSA and the OPP, and in considering the reports, it found that there was “a gap in the work that we do”. So the Committee was reporting to Parliament that it was requesting these two offices to investigate. It was then up to the AGSA and the OPP to take the matter further. It was also the case that any further issues concerning the Commission for Gender Equality would have to be taken forward by the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, Children and Persons with Disability.
The Chairperson asked if there was anything more to say about paragraph 4.4. He concluded this part of the discussion by saying that this matter would be investigated further.
Mr G Snell (ANC) asked about the findings of the OPP.
The Chairperson asked Mr Snell if he thought that the Committee should write down all the findings. The Committee was not expected to repeat all that had been said.
Mr Snell said that it was perhaps a matter of the wording.
The Chairperson asked if the findings had been reflected correctly. However, he said that the OPP's report was available to anyone who wished to read it. He felt that the matter was adequately covered.
Mr Pat Sasai, Office of the Speaker, wanted a paragraph to be inserted before paragraph 4.6. This additional paragraph should be similar to paragraph 4.4, to indicate if the OPP had followed a similar procedure, since it was not clear if the OPP had given Ms Gasa the opportunity to respond the OPP's findings.
The Chairperson replied that he thought that paragraph 4.7 covered this subject.
The Chairperson said that the OPP had invited Ms Gasa the previous year (July 2010) to respond, but she failed to do so. The OPP had wanted her to engage, but she had not taken the opportunity, and the blame appeared to rest on her as to why a date was never agreed upon. Or should the OPP offer her another opportunity?
Ms S Rwexana (COPE) asked why the Committee was now reporting on Ms Gasa. In her view, it was not part of the Committee's mandate.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee was not investigating Ms Gasa. It was merely saying that when the AGSA or any office investigated a body, the AGSA would give that body an opportunity to respond and explain some of the conduct that had been identified.
The Chairperson said it appeared that Ms Gasa had not indicated what her position was. The AGSA and the OPP were not saying that they were not in a position to engage her because of the court case. “It is us who are not in a position to engage her.”
Ms Duncan understood that this subject was mentioned under paragraph 4.7. She agreed that a paragraph be inserted before paragraph 4.6.
Ms Levendale, who, in the meantime, had searched through the document, referred Members to the AGSA's report, according to which Ms Gasa was, it appeared, given the opportunity and did respond to the AGSA. Ms Gasa's specific response was not given in the AGSA's report.
Ms Levendale recommended rephrasing paragraph 4.4 to read something like paragraph 4.7, and add the dates on which Ms Gasa and the CGE had responded to the AGSA.
The Chairperson confirmed that Ms Gasa had responded to the AGSA.
[The question of whether Ms Gasa had responded or not was in the context of events in June 2010].
The Chairperson asked if the AGSA and OPP reports had any specific findings on Ms Gasa.
Ms Levendale replied that they had not.
The Chairperson asked if it was necessary to ask the AGSA and the OPP to give Ms Gasa a further opportunity to respond.
Members thought not.
The Chairperson inferred that both the AGSA and OPP had done what they could to give Ms Gasa a chance to respond.
Adv Cetywayo pointed out that Ms Gasa had responded only to the AGSA, and that the OPP had tried to reach Ms Gasa, but she had not acceded.
The Chairperson inferred that Ms Gasa had responded to the AGSA but not to the OPP. Both offices had invited her, but she had responded only to the AGSA.
Ms Duncan said that the Committee had never invited Ms Gasa to appear before it, since Ms Gasa's matter was not part of the Committee's mandate. However, if these matters were to be included in the Committee's report, she wanted them to be mentioned as part of the AGSA and OPP's reports. These matters should be reflected under them, subject to clarification and confirmation by the Committee's legal adviser.
Ms Duncan said that it should be reflected in the report that Ms Gasa had been invited by the OPP to respond but that Ms Gasa had not accepted.
The Chairperson said that Ms Gasa had taken the opportunity afforded by the AGSA but had not done so in the case of the OPP. “So we shall have to leave it there.”
Paragraph 4.7 [concerning the OPP's report]
Mr Pat Sasai said that the contents of this paragraph were contested by Ms Gasa. There were two versions.
The Chairperson noted that, in respect of Ms Gasa's correspondence, she disputed the contents of this paragraph. This was why his original recommendation was that the Committee should ask the AGSA and the OPP to give Ms Gasa another opportunity. This would close any loophole.
Ms Duncan said the Committee could not make any recommendation unless it was very clear on paper in the AGSA and OPP's reports.
The Chairperson advised that the Ad Hoc Committee's researcher should tag the relevant parts of the AGSA and OPP's reports and check on the matter. The Committee would take a decision afterwards.
The Chairperson commented that the wording “the CGE had not performed a performance assessment” should be changed to “the CGE had not conducted a performance assessment”.
Ms Duncan reminded Members that the public would read the Committee's report. It was therefore important that the Ad Hoc Committee should be named in full to avoid possible confusion with other committees.
Adv Cetywayo concurred.
The Chairperson pointed out that the possibility of confusion arose only when there was reference to other committees.
The Chairperson asked who should investigate the expenses.
Ms Duncan said that the expenses should be investigated by the National Treasury.
The Chairperson asked if this would form part of the Committee's recommendations.
Adv Cetywayo pointed out that National Treasury had sought a legal opinion. It was a matter of phrasing.
Ms Robinson said that Members needed clarity.
The Chairperson said that it did create confusion. Who was to investigate was not clear, was it the Treasury?
Adv Cetywayo said that this was noted in writing.
The Chairperson suggested referring to the minutes.
The Chairperson said that this should be investigated too.
Mr Dlali commented with reference to the CGE staff's presentation.
A researcher commented on the language. He suggested that the Committee give its “reflections” on the report; its mandate was not to “respond”. The findings had been made already.
Ms Duncan asked what was wrong with the word “recommendations”.
The Chairperson suggested the word “observations” instead.
Ms Duncan suggested “considerations” or “recommendations”.
Ms Robinson suggested “responses” or “observations”.
The Chairperson preferred “observations”.
Adv Cetywayo suggested the wording “the Committee has come to a conclusion”
Mr G Snell (ANC) suggested “acknowledged findings of the AGSA and the OPP” or “considered the findings of the AGSA and the OPP and acknowledged them”.
The Chairperson said that this might be considered “sitting on the fence”.
Mr Snell said that the Committee must respect the AGSA and OPP's constitutional role.
Adv Cetywayo said that the AGSA and the OPP assisted Parliament in its oversight role. They made recommendations to Parliament.
The Chairperson suggested “The Ad Hoc Committee duly considered the AGSA and OPP's recommendations”.
Adv Cetywayo suggested “The Ad Hoc Committee is of the view that”.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would indicate its view of the AGSA and OPP's reports through the recommendations that the Committee was making.
Ms Duncan said that the Committee's observations should make clear reference to the Kader Asmal Report on Chapter 9 institutions.
Ms Duncan said that the Ad Hoc committee should remain cautious in accepting the reported progress of the CGE in implementing the AGSA and OPP's findings.
The Chairperson agreed that the Ad Hoc Committee remained cautious about the reported progress at the CGE on implementing the AGSA and OPP's findings.
The Chairperson said that the department concerned must be mentioned by name.
Ms Robinson asked how long it would take to amend the CGE Act. She called for appointment of commissioners to fill the vacancies, but this should be done properly in terms of the existing legislation.
Ms Rwexna suggested that the Ad Hoc Committee was recommending that Parliament consider the Ad Hoc Committee on the Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions Report (the Kader Asmal Report) and amend the CGE Act.
Ms Rwexna said that one should continue with the existing commissioners, but it was necessary to bring the CGE in line with the Constitution.
Adv Cetywayo said that the process of considering the Kader Asmal Report was in its initial stages. The Speaker still needed to be briefed on how to table the Kader Asmal Report again.
The Chairperson said that in the meantime the Committee was concerned with the GE Act and that the appointment of new commissioners must be in line with the Constitution.
Adv Kayalethu Zweni, (Parliament's Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy) and Office of the Speaker, said that at present the CGE was not legally constituted.
Adv Cetywayo said that the current CGE Act was drafted under the old Constitution.
The Chairperson said that the amendment of the CGE Act must be expedited.
Ms Robinson asked how quickly the Act could be amended.
The Chairperson replied that it should be possible by the end of the year.
Adv Cetywayo said that the proposed legislation to amend the CGEG Act should be submitted to the Cabinet by August 2011.
The Chairperson advised that Ms Gasa should be given the opportunity by the OPP to respond to the findings of the OPP's report.
The Chairperson said that it would not be possible to adopt the report today, since the Committee’s researchers were expected to make some further investigation of uncertain points.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
The Chairperson asked Members to read through the draft minutes which had just been distributed.
Mr J Sibanyoni (ANC) encouraged Members to have their comments and corrections ready by next Tuesday, 08 March 2011, so that the minutes could be adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
List of meetings held to date [from PMG website]
9 Nov 2010 Election of the Chairperson
24 Nov 2010 Public Protector and Office of the Auditor-General on their investigative reports on the functioning of the Commission on Gender Equality: briefing
25 Jan 2011 Litigation between Commission & its former chairperson and other litigation cases; Findings & recommendations of Public Protector and Auditor-General; Committee programme
26 Jan 2011 Commission on Gender Equality: progress report – briefing [PMG did not attend, because not notified]
31 Jan 2011 National Treasury on the CGE's legislative framework, accountability structure & internal control environment ; Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa & Public Protector on the impact and efficacy of the progress reported by the CGE
8 Feb 2011 Ad Hoc CGE: Committee report: deliberations; Committees programme
15 Feb 2011 Ad Hoc CGE: further deliberations on draft Committee Report
22 Feb 2011 Ad Hoc CGE: Committee Report on the Commission for Gender Equality Forensic Investigation
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