All major stakeholders, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Human Sciences Research Council, the Academy of Science for South Africa, the National Advisory Council on Innovation and the National Research Foundation, endorsed the amendments contained in Amendment Bill without any changes.
The Human Sciences Research Council raised a substantive issue concerning the naming conventions of the “CEO” and “President” titles of employees of scientific research organisations. It was agreed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss only technical changes to be made to the Amendment Bill and that substantive amendments would be deliberated separately at a later stage.
A few Committee announcements were made at the end of the meeting.
Deliberations on the Science and Technology Amendment Bill [B5 – 2011]
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and asked the stakeholders to give their input on the Science and Technology Amendment Bill [B5 – 2011]. It was anticipated that any changes would be technical.
Dr Matlotleng Matlou, Chief Executive Officer, Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA), endorsed the amendments contained in the Amendment Bill.
Dr Peter Pedlar, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of HSRC, wished to bring the issue of “naming conventions” and job titles of individuals within the relevant stakeholder organisations to the Committee’s attention. In particular there was a problem with the use of the title “CEO” instead of “President”. Naming conventions were uniform in the global field of science research and so the correct naming conventions should be made use of for the sake of individuals engaging in international negotiations. The title of “President” was given to an individual who was an internationally respected researcher and not just an individual who was the head or manager of an organisation as the “CEO” title could infer.
Ms M Shinn (DA) replied that she did not see any HSRC legislation before the Committee so she was not sure which part of the Act Dr Pedlar was referring to. The HSRC Act did not make mention of the title “President” and actually made reference to “CEO” so if the title of “CEO” was acceptable in the HSRC Act then it was not clear why it needed to be changed in the Amendment Bill.
The Chairperson replied that the issue of naming conventions had been raised before but if Dr Pedlar wished to make this amendment to the Act then he should take it up with the Department of Science and Technology (DST) at a later stage.
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Chief of Staff: Ministry, DST, explained that the HSRC Act had been amended in 2008. As the Act stood there was no reference to the title “President” and emphasised that if Dr Pedlar wanted to propose this amendment then he should take it up with the Department.
Dr Gansen Pillay, Vice President, National Research Foundation (NRF), endorsed the Amendment Bill on behalf of NRF. The NRF had been in consultation with the DST over the amendments for which it was extremely grateful. The NRF was particularly pleased with the changes to the tenure of the Board and stated a four year term was far more acceptable and provided continuity. The NRF would endorse changes to titles and naming conventions as long as they were used consistently.
Ms Nozipho Buthelezi, Chief Specialist, National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI), stated that her organization supported the Amended Bill.
Prof Iqbal Parker, Vice President, Academy of Science for South Africa (ASSAf) stated that ASSAf had held discussions with the DST about the Amended Bill and endorsed all the changes in the Amended Bill.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was not present at the meeting but had sent a message to the Chairperson endorsing the Amendment Bill. The CSIR had apologised for its absence and stated that because it endorsed the Amended Bill and did not have anything to add it did not consider it necessary to attend the meeting.
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) thought the CSIR’s apology was unacceptable on such grounds and that they should have been represented at the meeting.
The Chairperson agreed.
Mr Sisa Makabeni, State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, stated that the Bill was entirely constitutional and so had no further changes to make to the Amendment Bill.
Ms M Shinn (DA) asked why the Committee and stakeholders were only discussing technical aspects of the Bill and not also substantive issues related to the Bill considering that stakeholders, particularly the HSRC, did have substantive issues to be raised.
The Chairperson replied that the protocol of parliamentary processes in this instance required for technical changes to be deliberated first and for the substantive issues to be deliberated at a later stage.
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Chief of Staff: Ministry, DST said it was decided that it would be better to deal with the technical changes and then to proceed with substantive issues next year.
Dr Pillay reiterated that the NRF did have other substantial matters to raise with the Committee but his understanding was also that technical changes would first be made to pave the way for future deliberations over substantive issues.
The Chairperson concluded that all major stakeholders had endorsed the Amendment Bill without further changes.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee would finalise the Bill the following week.
The Chairperson said that the shortlisting of candidates to be appointed to the NRF board would be scheduled for next week as there had not been enough time to look at it. The adoption of outstanding minutes and a discussion on the proposed international study tour would also be postponed to the following week.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the Committee needed to discuss two issues with the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). The first concerned the Committee’s involvement in the Intelligence and Property Laws Amendment Bill. The second issue involved the Committee’s participation in the 62nd International Astronautical Congress that was being held in
Lastly, the Chairperson mentioned that the DST had asked the Committee to diarise 14 and 15 July 2011 as they planned to host a workshop on Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) on those dates.
Ms Shinn asked what had happened to the presentation that was meant to have taken place on the ministerial review process on the technology landscape. The Ministerial Review Panel was meant to have been reviewed last year and this year and that had not happened.
Mr Luyanda Frans, Parliamentary Liaison Officer, DST, replied that he would check with the DST concerning this matter.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had looked at the shortlist for nominees of the NRF board and had made very good recommendations that had been neglected.
The above issues would be considered next week.
The meeting was adjourned.
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