The Committee was scheduled to hear a briefing from the Department of Human Settlements on the audit of housing units as part of the rectification process. However, the Committee failed to attend because it was not given sufficient notice of the meeting. The Committee Secretary had forwarded the Department an advanced copy of the Committee’s programme some time ago and had hoped that it would work around that programme, and be available on the scheduled date. The Department expected further confirmation and this did not occur. Members criticised the Committee for being disorganised and said that the Committee Secretary should in future send a letter to all departments notwithstanding the programme.
Public Services select Committee
21 February 2012
Cancellation of meeting with Department of Human Settlements on the audit of housing units as part of the rectification process
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (ANC Mpumalanga)
The Chairperson noted that the agenda was divided into four parts. Firstly, the Department of Human Settlements was scheduled to brief the Committee on the audit of housing units as part of the rectification programme. The second item was the adoption of the Report on the Strategic Planning Workshop. This would be followed by the consideration of the Report on the Oversight visit to the Free State. The final matter would be the adoption of outstanding minutes from the previous year.
Cancellation of meeting with Department of Human Settlements
The Chairperson informed the Committee that the Department would not attend the meeting and had apologised for their absence. Thereafter, he asked the Committee Secretary to explain to Members why this was the case.
Mr Ben Kali, Committee Secretary, stated that he had sent the Department a letter the previous day to request its attendance. He had forwarded the Department an advanced copy of the Committee’s programme some time ago and had hoped that it would work around that programme, and be available on the scheduled date. However, the Department had expected further notice or a formal letter but neither was forthcoming.
The Chairperson informed Members that the Office of the Auditor General had set time aside to attend the meeting but this was now a waste. Thereafter, he asked Members whether the meeting should proceed.
Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) expressed disappointment in the Department for being absent. It had a responsibility to ensure that programmes that were made earlier in the year was adhered to. This showed a showed a lack of discipline on the part of the Department. It was not the first time the Department did not attend a committee meeting and housing was among the biggest problems in South Africa, which needed to be addressed.
Mr M Jacobs (ANC, Free State) agreed with Mr Groenewald. The Committee should not accept the apology from the Department, because that would mean it (the Committee) was disorganised, which was not true.
Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) disagreed with Mr Groenewald and pointed out that the norm had always been that even if a programme was sent to a Department, a letter too would be sent that would inform them of what date the next committee meeting was scheduled for. Efforts should be done to find out whether the Minister of Human Settlements was aware of the programme. Lastly, she urged that the Committee should be more organised.
Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) agreed with Ms Themba, and asked when the detailed programme was sent to the Department and that even if the programme had been sent to the Department last year; the Committee itself, at times would not also stick to its own programme and would change dates of meetings frequently. He suggested that the Committee should write to the Department and accept its apology for being absent. More so, he apologised to the Office of the AG- unfortunately their time had been wasted. The Committee should be more organised the next time, so that such a mistake would not reoccur.
Mr Jacobs apologised to the independent bodies too, like PMG and the Independent newspaper that had spent resources to attend the meeting, while the Department had not attended. The Committee was disappointed with the behaviour of the Department.
The Chairperson summarised the input given by Members and said that the programmes were subject to change irrespective of whether they were sent a year or two years ago and that, the programmes could be amended anytime, hence the Secretary needed to be more responsible, because it worked as a team, and if one member of the team behaved irresponsibly, it would affect the rest of the team. The Committee Secretary needed to send the necessary apologies.
The Office of the AG left the venue at this point.
Report on the Strategic Planning Workshop
The Chairperson tabled the report on the Strategic Planning Workshop for consideration. He indicated that the Committee would go through the entire document and Members could comment thereafter.
Mr Mlenzana and Mr Jacobs stated that the report needed to include timeframes.
The Chairperson said that the document was the Committee’s vision.
Ms Themba said that the Secretary should have provided an explanation of the document.
Mr Jacobs agreed and suggested that the Secretary should have led the Committee through the document.
The Committee decided to proceed with the meeting internally and requested PMG to leave the meeting.
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