Correction of Committee Meeting Reports

Economic Development

27 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms E Coleman (ANC, Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Members postponed the discussion of the Brazil study tour report and instead focused on the 5 outstanding minutes. Even though there was no quorum, Members discussed and corrected the numerous grammatical, spelling and content related inaccuracies in the minutes. A Member mooted the possibility of one member going through the reports prior to the meeting so as to ensure the process of adopting minutes is not time consuming. The Committee also discussed the delays of the Secretary in writing reports, the inaccuracies in his report writing which can be attributed to the fact that he did not use a recording device. The Committee highlighted to the Committee Secretary the importance of accurately capturing information and the need to timeously provide these reports to the Chairperson of the Committee prior to the meeting so as to ensure that all mistakes are reworked. Members also asked for uniformity in the layout of the reports.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) opened the meeting on behalf of the Chairperson who was yet to arrive. He noted that there were 5 sets of minutes from 8 November 2011 to 8 February 2012 to go through. Members would be given time to peruse the reports so as to check for corrections before the Committee adopts them. Thereafter, a report on the Brazil study tour would be made by presented by the Committee Researcher and corrections would be made, if any. He stated that he had received a letter from UDM withdrawing Mr Holomisa (UDM) from the Portfolio Committee. He noted that there was no quorum and hence the Committee would make corrections but adoption would be deferred to a later date.

Minutes
The Chairperson noted that the challenge faced was that she was only getting the minutes presently hence she thought justice would not be done by merely perusing the minutes as opposed to reading them in-depth to make meaningful contributions. She sought clarity on what approach Mr Ntuli had suggested in going over the minutes- whether the Committee would read through the minutes and then discuss them or go over the minutes singularly. She requested for additional time for the Members of the Portfolio Committee to read through the minutes.

Ms D Tsotesti (ANC) suggested that the Committee should go over the minutes singularly and adopt them as they went along.

The Chairperson noted that the agenda had two matters, namely the adoption of the outstanding minutes and the Brazil Study Report. She therefore questioned whether there would be enough time to cover all the items on the agenda.

Mr Ntuli pointed out that there was no quorum hence the Committee should simply go over the minutes making the necessary corrections on the minutes and return them to the Committee Secretary who will make the appropriate amendments and then the minutes can be adopted later when there is a quorum.

The Chairperson noted that the normal procedure would be to go over each report singularly but that given the backlog of the minutes it was now an abnormal situation.

Ms Van der Merwe (ANC) enquired what the precise number for the quorum is and also noted that the adoption of minutes is not the major function of the Portfolio Committee as it is an administrative function.

Mr Ntuli suggested that they should simply go over the minutes and do all they can in the existing time frame of the meeting.

Ms Van der Merwe noted that they had previously gone done a thorough scrutiny of the Brazil Report hence they should fast trick the process as it was repetition.

The Chairperson noted that the difficulty of fast tracking the review of the Brazil Report was that there were new members in the Portfolio Committee who were not part of it and would want to hear what it was all about. She also suggested that the Committee remove the Brazil Report from the agenda and allow the Researcher the opportunity to present the report at the next meeting. Members agreed to dedicate the meeting to the correction and amendments of the minutes from the previous meetings.

Committee Minutes dated 8 November 2011
The Chairperson allowed the Members some time to go over the minutes of 8 November 2011. Members made various grammatical, spelling and lay out corrections to the document.

Ms Van der Merwe suggested that one person from the Committee should be appointed to possibly go over the numerous grammatical, spelling , punctuation and lay out errors prior to the Portfolio Committee meeting so as to save time.

The Chairperson noted that it was the responsibility of the Committee Section to deal with such matters. The challenge was that the Committee Secretary did not write up the reports on time as reports had to be written within three days from the meeting and the report published within there weeks. The Committee Secretary’s failure to record meetings resulted in insufficient and incorrect information. He had been advised to do so on numerous occasions but to no avail. It was concerning that in some instances the Secretary left the meeting while in process hence missing out relevant information. Additionally, she noted that some venues had in-house recording devices and that it was the responsibility of the Committee Secretary to make a request for such committee rooms so as to enable the working of the Committee to reach a wider audience. The reason why the media was not that aware of the activities of the Committee was because there was a lack of sufficient publicity as well as accurate information that stemmed from the lack of the audio equipment.

Mr Pilate Gwebu, Committee Secretary, replied that most recording devices were only availed to long-serving Committee Secretaries. He had made such a request but to no avail. In addition, he had made requests for a committee room with recording facilities but had been unsuccessful.

Mr X Mabaso (ANC) noted that it was important that Mr Gwebu was present as the discussion was unfolding as he needed to address the concerns being raised by the Members. He further advised the Committee Secretary to write up the report as soon as possible when his memory was still fresh.

The Chairperson stated that Mr Gwebu should demand the minutes from his supervisor as she required the minutes prior to the commencement of a meeting so as to be satisfied that they were well written. It should be the Committee that should decide to postpone the adoption of the minutes and this should not be caused by any delays made by Mr Gwebu and his supervisor in amending and writing a final report.

Mr Ntuli remarked that all grammatical, spelling and lay out matters of the report should be the responsibility of the Committee Secretary and his supervisor and that the Portfolio Committee should only be concerned with the substance of the report.

The Chairperson stated that Mr Gwebu would have to rework the minutes and make the necessary amendments

Committee Minutes dated 15 November 2011
Members made various changes to the minutes of 15 November 2011 meeting in relation to grammar, spelling and the general lay out and that it had to be reworked again.

The Chairperson noted that important statements made by the Director-General during the presentation had been left out. She cautioned about the danger of merely relying on a presentation without capturing what the Minister or Director General had said in elaborating certain aspects which give substance to the presentation. Important information was also raised outside the formal presentation.

Mr Mabaso stated that the Committee should mandate the Chairperson find out what the Director General said so that it could be captured.

The Chairperson said the Committee could possibly get a recording from the Department. She reiterated that it was the role of the Secretary to go back to the Director General to enquire about what he had said. She added that she would make a follow up so as to get the missing information.

Ms Van der Merwe suggested that it would be ideal for one person a week to go over the document to correct all the content related matters as well as the spelling and grammar so as to avoid the delays.

The Chairperson replied that Mr Gwebu should go over the document and make the content related corrections, grammatical mistakes and then pass over the document to the Members of the Committee.

All the members agreed to this suggestion.

Ms Van der Merwe made a suggestion about the layout and approach to the writing of the minutes. There was no need for recounting what every member contributed. Furthermore, she referred to the wording on page four of the report in relation to foreigners. The wording did not accurately explain the direction of the Committee. If people misrepresented that section of the report on such a sensitive issue, it would send out the wrong signals in so far as the attitude towards xenophobia etc. She concluded that minute taking should not involve writing up all that was said by the various speakers but only the major points in a particular meeting.

The Chairperson reiterated that the context of the report was important in minute taking so as to accurately capture the sentiments of the Members.

Mr Ntuli stated that the Committee had to request for the meeting rooms with the audio recording.

The Chairperson noted that the previous Committee Secretary always recorded the meetings of the Committee.

Mr Gwebu stated that he had made a request for recording equipment but that the devices were allocated on the basis of seniority to the various Committee Secretaries.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Gwebu had never raised that issue with her before as she would have taken up the matter with the relevant people concerned. An audio recording system would help to ensure accuracy. Finally, she noted that the reports were in different layout which was confusing and had to be rectified by Mr Gwebu.

The Chairperson therefore deferred the discussion of the minutes to the next meeting so as to enable Mr Gwebu to add the missing information to the report as well as to circulate the minutes to the members of the Committee prior to the meeting.

Committee Minutes dated 22 November 2011
Ms Van der Merwe made suggestions about the layout and approach on the writing of the minutes. She suggested that the minutes should not include the individual contributions of the members but simply include an annexure of the final outcome of the deliberations agreed on by all Members.

The Chairperson also noted that the minutes should avoid specifically including individual names like ‘Wallmart’ in question, given the sensitivity of the matter that was under consideration. She suggested that the minutes should be shredded and Mr Gwebu would have to write up another report that omits names due to the sensitivity of the matter in the minutes. Members agreed to this proposition by the Chairperson. She also reiterated the need for accuracy given the numerous content, grammatical, lay out and spelling mistakes. She also noted that she would request an audience with Mr Gwebu and his supervisor on matters relating to the editing of the reports.

Committee Minutes dated 29 November 2011
Mr Ntuli referred to the minutes and commented that the COPE vice- president was not elected but merely appointed. The members of the Portfolio made various changes to the minutes in relation to grammar and spelling.

Committee Minutes dated 8 February 2012
Members made various changes to meeting in relation to grammar and spelling.

The Chairperson suggested that the report be reworked by Mr Gwebu given the numerous grammatical, spelling and content related inaccuracies of the report.

Members all agreed. 

Other issues
Mr Gwebu notified that the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development in the Gauteng Legislature (PCED-Gauteng) intended to conduct visit to the Committee for purposes of sharing ideas, successes and failures.

Ms Van der Merwe noted that Portfolio Committees had no separate legal persona hence the correct procedure was for PCED-Gauteng to approach the Speaker who in the provincial legislature who in turn would inform the Speaker of Parliament.

Mr X Mabaso concurred and stated that the Speaker of Parliament had to be notified because there would be cost implications involved.

The Chairperson advised the Committee Secretary to advise the PCED-Gauteng on the proper channel to take in relation to their intended visit.

The meeting was adjourned.

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