There was considerable delay in starting the meeting, owing to difficulties in establishing a quorum, which was established by the time a vote had to be taken.
Mr Greyling had submitted a legislative proposal to regulate private funding of political parties, covering the disclosure of private donations, election expenditure, donations from foreign entities, and dealing also with the possibility of introducing caps on election-related spending, and political parties holding business interests. The Co-Chairperson of the Joint Constitutional Committee noted that his committee dealt largely with issues related to private MPs, and did not cover institutions or political parties, and therefore the proposal fell outside his committee’s mandate. However, he did note that his committee was working on a major review of the legislation around Members’ interests, including possible expansion of the code to include any other field that would, directly or indirectly, affect Members of Parliament, and he would keep the Chairperson informed of anything that would affect this proposal. It was noted that the Committee would try to finalise Mr Greyling’s proposal in the following week.
The Pretorius Proposal to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act was aimed at reducing the powers of the Minister in relation to the appointment of the Land Bank board, and ensuring greater involvement of Parliament. The Standing Committee on Finance had suggested that it was opposed to Parliament becoming involved in the appointment of board members, as previous experiences in this regard had not proved satisfactory. It further advised that the whole of the Land Bank legislation should be reviewed, rather than piecemeal amendments. Mr Pretorius said that it was clear that the Department and relevant Parliamentary committees did not support his proposal, and asked that it be put to the vote. The majority of Members agreed that, in light of the responses and the possibility that Parliamentary interventions in all Board appointments were to be re-considered, the proposal should not be taken further at present. Mr Pretorius (DA) and Mr Greyling (ID) recorded their dissenting views.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson apologised for considerable delay in starting the meeting. All items on the agenda were for adoption. He noted, however, that in spite of co-opting Members, the Committee still did not have a quorum. (That quorum was later established, to allow Members to vote on the issues).
In the meantime, he asked that Mr B Mashile, Co-Chairperson of the Joint Constitutional Committee, should address the Committee.
Greyling legislative proposal to regulate private funding of political parties
The Chairperson noted that this legislative proposal aimed at regulating the issues of disclosure of private donations to political parties, disclosure of election expenditure, the possibility of introducing capping of spending caps, regulation of political parties holding business interests, and donations from foreign entities.
Mr Mashile informed the Committee that a Committee on Members’ Interest was largely established to deal with issues related to Members of Parliament, and its mandate did not cover institutions or political parties, except insofar as they affected Members directly. Mr Greyling’s legislative proposal was mainly about political parties and not individuals, except where it dealt with private donors funding the political party. The proposal therefore fell outside of his committee’s mandate. However, he noted that this committee was working on a major review of the legislation around Members’ interests, and was also looking at the expansion of the code of Members to include any other field that would, directly or indirectly, affect Members of Parliament. If the Portfolio Committee on Private Members’ proposals would be affected by the process, he would inform the Chairperson.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Mashile and noted that this Committee hoped to be able to finalise Mr Greyling’s legislative proposal in the following week.
Mr P Pretorius (DA) asked for clarity on the process. He noted that this Committee would now look at six points, in accordance with the guidelines. These included looking at whether the proposal:
a) went against the spirit, purport and object of the Constitution;
b) sought to initiate legislation beyond the legislative competence of the Assembly;
c) duplicated existing legislation or legislation awaiting consideration by the NA or NCOP;
d) pre-empted similar legislation soon to be introduced by the national executive;
e) would result in a money bill; or
f) was frivolous or vexatious.
It appeared to him that this Committee needed to consider whether this proposal pre-empted similar legislation, and he suggested making a formal request to the Executive as to whether there was any intention to bring similar legislation in the near future.
The Chairperson said that would be considered when taking a decision.
Pretorius Proposal to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, No 15 of 2002
The Chairperson recapped that consideration of the proposal had been postponed, because the Committee had not yet received a letter that had apparently been sent by the Standing Committee on Finance. That letter had since been received. He summarised that Mr Pretorius’s proposal sought to amend the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act, No. 15 of 2002, by amending the section that gave power to the Minister alone, to the exclusion of Parliament, so that Parliament would have a greater say in the appointment of board Members. However, the Standing Committee had expressed the view that Parliament should not get involved in the appointment of board members, based on past experiences where it had become involved in such processes. The Standing Committee also pointed out that other legislative processes around Land Bank were being considered, and thought that it would not be desirable to pass legislation piecemeal, but a holistic view should be taken.
Mr Pretorius noted that it had been clear that the Department did not support the proposal. The Standing Committee on Finance and the Joint Committees on Agriculture and Finance also did not support the proposal. He proposed that the Committee should immediately put this matter to the vote.
Ms A van Wyk (ANC) seconded the comment that it seemed the proposal would not go ahead, but noted that it was also important to note that other legislation was being proposed, and that Parliament was looking at the appointment of all boards, so there was interest in the matter.
The Chairperson asked whether there were any dissenting views.
Mr Pretorius asked that his objection be recorded.
The Chairperson asked Mr Pretorius for clarification. Ms van Wyk had seconded Mr Pretorius’s proposal that, given the responses from other committees, there was no need for the Committee to continue. It appeared that Mr Pretorius was objecting to his own proposal.
Mr Pretorius explained that his own view was that the proposal should proceed, but the majority view was clearly that the proposal should not proceed.
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Pretorius was withdrawing his proposal.
Mr L Greyling (ID) understood that Mr Pretorius was now proposing that his legislative proposal should immediately be finalised, by putting put to the vote.
The Chairperson indicated that it was procedurally incorrect for a private Member to dissent to his own proposal.
Mr Pretorius clarified that he was saying that the overwhelming view was that the legislative proposal should not continue. He accepted that position. However, the Chairperson should have given some direction on whether the proposal should proceed to deal with the matter. He expected that the majority would vote against the proposal.
The Chairperson allowed Mr Pretorius the right to do that, and called for a fresh vote.
Ms van Wyk proposed that, in the light of the responses and the moves to re-look at the appointment of all boards, not only the Land Bank, that the Committee not take the present proposal any further.
Ms F Khumalo (ANC) seconded the proposal.
The Chairperson asked whether there were any objections.
Mr Pretorius and Mr Greyling objected.
The Chairperson pronounced that the Committee would not give authority to Hon Pretorius to continue further with his legislative proposal, but registered the objections of both the DA and ID.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Pretorius for his patience throughout the Committee’s lengthy process in dealing with this matter.
Adoption of Minutes
The Minutes of Committee meeting held on 23 February 2011 were approved and adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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