Davidson Proposal to prohibit contracting between an organ of state in the national sphere of government and companies whose directors are party political office bearers or public representatives of political parties: finalisation

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

21 February 2012
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Last week’s meeting had to be cancelled because the only item on the agenda, the presentation from Dr W James (DA), was withdrawn at the eleventh hour. Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko (DA) was scheduled to have briefed the Committee at this meeting on her legislative proposal on Communal Land Tenure, and again the Committee was informed only the previous evening that that proposal had been withdrawn.

The Chairperson was angry and frustrated. He asked Ms Kubayi to take the matter up at the Whips Committee.

The Chairperson tabled the report on the Mr Davidson’s legislative proposal to prohibit contracting between an organ of state in the national sphere of government and companies whose directors were party-political office bearers or public representatives of political parties in terms of Rule 211 of the Rules of the National Assembly.
In terms of the proposal, parties would be limited from contracting in these instances:
- Where the company or entity had serving political party public representatives, or political party office bearers, as directors, irrespective of the sphere of government they served in;

- Where any serving political party public representative or political party office bearer individually held more than 2% of the shares of the relevant company or entity; and

- Where a political party, directly or indirectly, held any shares in any company or entity.

The Committee resolved that there were constitutional implications that may result in the infringement of the rights of smaller party-political office bearers in freely participating in business. Due to the nature of the country’s proportional electoral system those were some of the practical issues in allowing the legislative proposal to proceed. Accordingly, the Committee recommended that permission not be granted to the Member to proceed with the proposed legislation.

The report was approved by the Committee.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed four new Members – Mr D Ximbi and Mr F Bhengu from the ANC, and Mr A van der Westhuizen and Mr V Manzini from the DA.

Last week’s meeting had to be cancelled because the only item on the agenda, the presentation from Dr W James (DA), was withdrawn at the eleventh hour.

Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko (DA) was due to have briefed the Committee at this meeting on her legislative proposal on Communal Land Tenure, and again the Committee was informed only the previous evening that the proposal had been withdrawn.

The Chairperson was angry and frustrated. He asked Ms Ms M Kubayi (ANC) to take the matter up at the Whips Committee, because if the Committee did not have more than one item on the agenda that meeting would also have had to be cancelled at short notice. This was affecting the work of the Committee. Withdrawal of presentations should be done timeously to allow for rescheduling and reprogramming of the work of the Committee.

Ms Kubayi replied that she had spoken to the Deputy Chief Whip of the DA and the Whips Committee requested that the National Assembly Table guide the Committee. A Private Member’s Legislation was a Member’s legislation, in the name of the Member, and not a party legislation and therefore could not be moved to another person. The National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC), chaired by the Speaker, tasked the Table staff to look at the matter and advise the Committee. Ms Kubayi would raise the matter again at the NAPC because it affected the work of the Committee negatively.

Ms S Kopane (DA) was also disappointed and would follow up with her party; she apologised for the inconvenience.

Davidson Proposal: prohibit contracting between an organ of state in the national sphere of Government and companies whose directors are party-political office bearers or public representatives of political parties
A draft report had been tabled for submission to the Office of the Speaker. As there were four new Members and a decision had to be taken on the legislative proposal, the Chairperson gave a brief outline of how the Committee functioned, and what legislative proposals and special petitions were.  He gave the background to the Davidson proposal.

The objects of the proposed legislation were to prohibit contracting between an organ of state in the national sphere of government and companies or entities, whether public or private, listed or unlisted, in the following circumstances:

- Where the company or entity had serving political party public representatives, or political party office bearers, as directors, irrespective of the sphere of government they served in;

- Where any serving political party public representative or political party office bearer individually held more than 2% of the shares of the relevant company or entity; and

- Where a political party, directly or indirectly, held any shares in any company or entity.

The Committee had felt it to be a good piece of legislation but was concerned that the survival of the smaller parties with very few members could depend on small business. The recommendation for adoption was that the Member not be granted to proceed with the legislation.

Mr van der Westhuizen accepted the reasons given why the Committee proposed that the Member not proceed with the proposed legislation, but was concerned about the matter that gave rise to the legislative proposal. There was that scourge in the country and as the current proposals were unconstitutional the Committee had to try to find a way of addressing the problem while still remaining within the boundaries of the Constitution. He suggested asking Hon Davidson to rework his proposal to come up with alternative measures. He agreed that the rights of South Africans should be respected but would not like people to benefit unfairly from the positions they held in politics.

The Chairperson agreed. The Committee should also look at amending the ethics part of it to ensure that the procurement units of government emphasised transparency and openness and gave the people of South Africa equal opportunity.

Ms Kubayi supported that but according to the Committee’s mandate it could not ask Mr Davidson to redraft his proposal. The onus was on individuals to look at the Committee report and the comments made. Some of it could be corrected in the Code of Ethics. Not everybody that led a party had influence. Barring that person from doing business would be problematic if it was their only means of income and of survival. Smaller parties did not have income and it could be the end of young parties and so kill the multi party system.

The report recommending that permission not be granted to the Member to proceed with the proposed legislation was adopted and would be submitted accordingly.

Adoption of Minutes
The minutes of Committee meeting held on 8 February 2012 were adopted with technical amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.



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