Committee Report on Mining Charter public hearings

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Mineral Resources and Energy

28 November 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Gona (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider and adopt outstanding minutes as well as the report on the summary of submissions and the Committee’s findings emanating from the public hearings on the mining charter. The Committee was not particularly impressed by the way the report on the public hearings had been drafted. The report grouped the recommendations that had been made under certain topics. The Committee suggested that the report be redone again. Members suggested that the report be structured in such a way that the recommendations be listed in accordance with each and every stakeholder or organisation. The Committee also agreed not to consider and adopt the reports in the meeting. They agreed to go and read the reports and minutes and then come back the following day to adopt the minutes and reports.

An Official from the Parliamentary Committee Section briefed Members about the rules concerning flights and hotel accommodation. Members also briefly discussed their programme for next year.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that there were a number of outstanding minutes that the Committee needed to consider. The Committee had only received the documents just before the meeting. He proposed that the Committee go through the minutes and adopt them, then consider the oversight report and finish with the report on the mining charter public hearings. The Committee's request to get a summary of all the recommendations had been made during the mining charter public hearings had not been acceded to. The Committee wanted to see which entity or organisation recommended what. The second proposal was that the Committee come back the nest day and finalise the recommendations because there was no quorum.

The Committee had a meeting scheduled for early in December with the South African Mining Development Association (SAMDA) and the Chamber of Mines in order to ascertain what their views were on the state owned mining company. The Committee had analysed the media space and discovered that it would not be possible to get prominence in the media because the media was focusing on COP17. He suggested that the meeting with the Chamber of Mines and SAMDA be postponed from early December to early in 2012. He asked for the Committee's views on the matter.

Mr H Schmidt (DA) stressed that trying to get Members to meet in December was very difficult. The meeting with SAMDA and Chamber of Mines should to stand over to 2012.

The Chairperson said that there were several entities that were on standby namely the, MINTEK, the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate, the State Diamond Trader, and the Council for GeoScience. The Committee had agreed to meet Alexkor Development Fund on 24 January 2012. There was need to find space for the Chamber of Mines and SAMDA around the 27th of January. On 8 February 2012, the Committee was going to apply, for the whole day, for an engagement with all the entities that presented in the mining charter public hearings to present the findings and recommendations of the Committee. He stressed the need to obtain a big venue for the meeting. Mining companies and the relevant stakeholders had to be notified before the end of this year to enable them to make full preparations. By then the Committee would be having in their possession the report of the research team that had been tabled by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ruling party.

Mr E Lucas (IFP) noted that the Committee was not involved in the mining indaba and this should be addressed.

Mr Schmidt responded that a private company ran the mining indaba. There was need for the Committee to be involved in the indaba. The Committee did not have any Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) amendments and the issue had to be addressed early in 2012.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee would be invited to the indaba. The Committee had been invited to the mining summit but the invitation had been declined because the Committee was busy. On the issue of the MPRDA amendments, the Committee was dealing with the mining industry as a whole. There were a lot of processes that had to take place. It seemed as if the Ministry had slowed down because there were important events that were coming that had a direct impact on them such as the report by the research team. Mr Julius Malema had been suspended but the views that he propagated remained behind. The Department wanted to overhaul the MPRDA and that would be followed by the cleaning out of the regulations through via the Committee.

Mr Lucas stressed that nationalisation was an important issue that needed to be dealt with. There was need for Committee Members to air their views.

The Chairperson highlighted that it was important for the Committee to receive the information and views that were available on nationalisation and then debate on the matter.

Ms F Bikani (ANC) added that since the start of nationalisation as a topic, there had always been discussion. There was no one view or restricted approach on nationalisation. The fact that there were debates on the topic should be a pride of the Committee. The Committee had to be patient and receive the information that related to nationalisation.

Mr Mkhethwa Mkhize, Unit Manager, Committee Section, Parliament, addressed the concerns of the Committee that were dated 21 September 2011. The Committee had been allocated two different companies that they were expected to use for traveling as opposed to only one. There were challenges but they were being addressed. The cancellation and change of flights was still a challenge especially after the flights had been confirmed days before. If the Committee cancelled their flights the Committee incurred costs regarded by Parliament as fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Committee was urged to confirm flights two days before departure as opposed to a week before. Members were booked on unrestricted flights whereby they could change either the dates or the time. Changing routes was equivalent to cancellations and it would be regarded as fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The Committee secretary had to account why Members had received the documents late. There could be valid reasons for this. He stressed that he had brought the documents that described the job descriptions of the Committee assistant and the Committee secretary. It was a challenge to find someone to stand in the absence of the Committee secretary because of the job descriptions that Parliament provided in the contracts of the secretaries. There was also an issue about hotels. The Fusion hotel in Polokwane was a five star hotel and the minimum price was R2000 per night. In terms of the amendment to traveling policies signed by the Speaker, the maximum that the Committee had to use was R1850 a night and the hotels had to be four star. There were however exceptions. In Durban the hotels were full because of COP17 as such the Committee could motivate for the use five star hotels which were more that R1850 per night. Committee assistants and secretaries were not afraid of managers but they were not authorised to engage in any transactions that would cost Parliament money. Only managers were authorised to do so. As such Members could channel their requests via the Committee secretaries. Officials did not remote control Members. The challenge was when a request was not in compliance with the policies of the institution. There were policies that he as a manager was expected to implement that Members were not aware of. Contravening the policies would result in a suspension. If a Committee received an invitation from a Department, the Department was supposed to pay for the costs. He hoped that catering had improved. The data projectors would be replaced.

The Chairperson requested Mr Mkhize to put all his responses down in writing. All the Committee wanted was to be allowed to do its work. Policies that were developed by the executive were not supposed to create obstacles for Members. This would create a lot of unnecessary tension between the Committee Secretary and the Committee Members.

Mr E Sogoni (ANC) said that he preferred a situation where the Departments did not sponsor Parliament Committees. This would enable the Committees to be independent.

Mr Mkhize responded that his seniors, on the issue of policies, had not taken a decision.

Ms Bikani said that there was no need to be rigid and inconsiderate in any management style. There was need to be assertive as a manager. There was nothing rigid in both HR and management. There were weaknesses in policies that needed to be addressed.

The Chairperson proposed that the Committee take each set of minutes and adopt the minutes.

Mr Schmidt said that there was no need to adopt minutes that the Members had not read. The Committee had to go and read the minutes first.

Ms Bikani said that the report on the public hearings had to be put aside when the Committee dealt with minutes.

The Chairperson agreed that the report on the public hearings had to be put aside because it did not contain the information that the Committee wanted. Recommendations had to be listed in accordance with the stakeholders who had made the recommendations. There were close to 30 organisations that were involved but it seemed as if there were fewer recommendations.

Ms Bikani requested that the each of the Committee members compile a report that contained their own views and findings on the recommendations that had been made during the public hearings.

The Chairperson highlighted the need to have recommendations listed as per each and every stakeholder in terms of the public hearings. He suggested that the Committee go and read the minutes overnight and then adopt the minutes on the 30th of November.

Mr E Marais (DA) agreed with the Chairperson.

The meeting was adjourned.


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