SCOPA: Update on Study Tour; Oversight Report on visit to North West and the Eastern Cape

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

01 November 2011
Chairperson: Mr T Godi (APC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee discussed the Committee’s planned study tour. Members expressed unhappiness that not everyone could go on the trip- only 9 Members would be allowed. They argued that not all committees were treated fairly and equally as some were allowed to go 3-4 times a year on overseas trips. They questioned whether there was a written policy for foreign trips and urged the Chairperson to appeal the decision and make a strong case to the authorities.

The Committee briefly discussed the draft report on the oversight visit to the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) paypoints in the North West and the Eastern Cape.

Members noted that some beneficiaries had stated that they started queuing at about 7:30am and the pay points would open at 9am, but there were also those who would leave at 4pm without receiving payments to be told to come back the next day


Meeting report

The Chairperson read an apology from Ms M Matladi (UCDP). He requested the Committee to first consider and adopt the minutes from the previous week.

Minutes of 26 October 2011
Mr P Pretorius (DA) referred to point two and suggested that it should be written a “study tour” not “oversees trip” as indicated in the minutes.

Mr R Ainslie (ANC) moved for the adoption of the minutes.

Ms M Dreyer (DA) seconded the move.

The Committee adopted the minutes with amendments.

The Chairperson asked if there were any matters arising from the minutes.

Mr S Thobejane (ANC) asked if what the status the study tour trip was.

The Chairperson informed Members that the House Chairperson had sent out a communiqué concerning international study tours. After the recent evaluation of all study tours, it was decided that not all Members would be allowed to go on the trip. He had personally visited the House Chairperson to discuss the matter. The House Chairperson had requested various documents from the secretariat especially around membership, attendance of meetings and other relevant information.

He had only received the communiqué yesterday. It stipulated that only 9 Members could participate in the trip. He would contact the House Chairperson to find out what implications this would have for the support staff. In terms of Parliamentary rules, 4 Members from the opposition parties and five from the ANC could go on the trip. The Committee should count its blessings because other committees were allowed 7 members, others 5 or even less than that. The bottom line was that going on a study tour was not an entitlement for MPs.

Mr Ainslie expressed unhappiness with the arrangement. He argued that there was empirical (though not verifiable) evidence that not all committees had been treated fairly and equally. Some committees were allowed to go 3-4 times a year on overseas trips. Some committees did not take all their members on and instead alternated them for such trips. He had not verified that information, but it would be useful to get in writing the actual policy governing these kinds of trips so that everybody could be treated fairly and equally. In some instances, it seemed as if some committees were given permission after motivating strongly to the powers that be. He asked if a strong case was put for the whole Committee to go on a study tour and if there was recourse for an appeal against that dispensation, and should they agree with that or take that matter further.

Mr N Singh (IFP) concurred with Mr Ainslie and pointed out that there were other committees that allowed people who were not even members go on study tours. Therefore, the motivation for the Committee was the fact that SCOPA was referred in the Rules of Parliament as having an overarching role unlike other Portfolio Committees. And by and large, there had been very few instances where Members have considered matters on a political basis and it would be unfair for either colleague from the ruling party or from opposition parties not to be included because it was a study tour and study tours should be an opportunity for every Member of Parliament to participate in so as to improve his or her capacity to debate issues in the Committee.

The Chairperson assured the Committee that he would check if the policy existed in writing and distribute copies thereof to Members. Secondly, he indicated that he would clarify a statement made by the House Chairperson that part of the motivation from the Speaker of Parliament was the fact that when committees had undergone study tours those alternate Members who did not attend meetings became part of the trips. Concern had also been expressed about the conduct of some Members who had gone on study tours oversees vis a vis the work they’ve gone for on that trip, focusing on shopping, people not keeping time and even not attending the programme for that day and, all the type of things that did not adhere to the purpose of the trip.

He noted therefore, that those MPs who had already undergone on study tour overseas had “messed up things” for those who still needed to undertake those trips. The way committees functioned, the way they were configured, the support staff, were also issues that would be put under the spotlight. He re-iterated that he would check if a written travel policy existed and also appeal it, and he would not jump on tables but rather make a strong case to appeal on behalf of the Committee.

In terms of the uncertainty of the study tour being approved or not he noted that it had been approved but there were conditions. But Members would recall that when they made an application initially the rule was that all Members would go and there was one study tour per term. But he would get more clarity because there were hints sometimes that if there was a study tour the Chairperson might go with one or two persons only, not the whole Committee. Therefore, there was a paradigm shift in terms of how study tours were conducted and implemented but they should wait and see.

Report on the oversight visit to North West and the Eastern Cape
The Chairperson reminded Members that last week they were supposed to have adopted the report but did not and a certain journalist went on and published the report as though it had been adopted by the Committee. Therefore, the Committee needed to adopt the report in that meeting. He requested Members to start with the draft Report on the oversight visit to the South African Social Services Agency (SASSA) paypoints in the North West and the Eastern Cape.

Mr Pretorius corrected on paragraph 1 under introduction of the report where it was stated that the Portfolio Committee had undertaken and oversight visits. He requested that the support staff should take out “and”.

Ms M Mangena (ANC) also corrected some grammatical error on page one of the report.

Mr Pretorius corrected the grammar used on page 3 under oversight mechanisms.

Mr Ainslie pointed out that the second observation should be removed.

Ms Mangena noted that beneficiaries received their payments in a church building. She asked for clarity in terms of the sequence of outreach activities if they happened once a year or one a year as indicated in the report because Revilo and Tlapeng happened one a year, and the rest happened once a year.

The Chairperson responded that the outreach activities happened one a year.

Mr Pretorius sought clarity whether the beneficiaries were paying R1 to the Pensions Committee because he did not pick it up during the visit as there were translation difficulties.

Mr Singh clarified that each person contributed R1 on e pay day to the Pensions Committee towards the cleaning and maintenance of the church premises after use.

The Chairperson requested to Members that they check Greater Taung pay point.

Mr Pretorius asked for clarity as to the exact time beneficiaries started queuing for their grants because he had information that people started were queuing as early as 4am, 5am and 6am but would be serviced at 9am.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mangena to explain the timeframes that she got from the beneficiaries she had spoken to.

Ms Mangena responded that those beneficiaries she had spoken to stated that they started queuing at about 7:30am and the pay points would open at 9am, but there were also those who would leave at 4pm without receiving payments to be told to come back the next day.

The Chairperson noted that the observation made that beneficiaries were queuing as early as 7am talked to the issue of capacity constraints and there was currently a shortage because there were only 18 staff members in that pay point. The ideal capacity which was required by local service management was to have 17 additional staff members.

Mr Singh asked for clarity in terms of the indication in the report which stated that there were 44 000 files missing in the system.

The Chairperson responded that there were physical files or hard copies that could be located but there were files in the system that could not be located.

In terms of recommendations the Committee encouraged beneficiaries to make use of ATMs and post offices to quickly access their payments so they could avoid standing in long lines at pay points.

The Committee corrected and amended the draft report in terms of its grammar, substance, and the restructuring of observations and recommendations and, Members had agreed that they would first look at the updated version of the report before it could be adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: