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JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 May 2002
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT BILL: DELIBERATIONS; BUDGET BRIEFING BY MINISTER OF JUSTICE
Documents handed out:
Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Bill [B-2002]
Report of the CFO (.pdf format)
The Committee deliberated on the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Bill. Amendments made reflect the principle of complementarity contained in the Statute, meaning that the International Criminal Court may only assume jurisdiction when the Republic chose not to prosecute a particular matter. The Committee asked the Department to reconsider the provisions relating to the proceeding after arrest for purposes of surrender. The Chair cautioned against creating the means for a Harksen-like situation that could continue indefinitely.
The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development briefed the Committee on the Department's budget. He said that work was being done to remove those responsible for the fraud and theft within the department but indicated that this was a difficult process. Much was being done to improve the infrastructure of courts in rural areas and to reduce the number of backlogged cases. There was a need for government departments to co-ordinate their work so that things could be done as efficiently as possible.
The Chair announced that the International Criminal Court Bill was to be debated in the National Assembly on 11 June but the Programme Committee had changed the date to 29 May. The Interception and Monitoring Bill debate had provisionally been set for 21 June.
International Criminal Court Bill
Dr Basset and Adv Pienaar, the Department drafters responsible for the Bill, were present. The Chair noted that it was essentially a new Bill that had been drafted. The principles of the Bill were basically the same but a lot of technical amendments had been made. An important principle of the Rome Statute was that if a country with the responsibility to prosecute failed to do so, then only would the International Criminal Court (ICC) take over. The first draft of the Bill had not accurately reflected this principle. It had implied that the ICC had immediate jurisdiction and the new draft sought to rectify that.
Dr Basset took the Committee through the latest amendments. He noted that the Rome Statute would come into operation on 1 July as it now had all of the necessary ratifications. The Chair added that that was why the Committee was trying to pass the Bill before 1 July.
Dr Basset continued that he had shown the Bill to the head of the legal department of the International Committee of the Red Cross in South Africa who had voiced his approval of the Bill.
Dr Basset reminded the Committee that he had been asked to find out if the crime of aggression existed. He had done some research and confirmed that such a crime does exist but that an acceptable definition had not been found so he advised keeping the reference. The preamble also now made reference to the principle of complementarity.
The Chair commented that the preamble sounded good but felt that it should be better spelt out that in the event of non-prosecution, the ICC would take over. He agreed that the preamble was now much better than it had been and Members could have a look and see if it sufficed.
Dr Basset noted that a technical change had been made to "central authority" and the definition of "crime" had been changed.
The Chair felt that the definition of "crime" was important because it incorporated an important principle.
Mr Basset continued that a definition for High Court had been inserted. The definition of "the Statute" referring to the Rome Statute had been amended to include a reference to a copy of the Statute that had been attached as an Annexure for information. A problem concerning this had been encountered earlier.
Dr Basset noted that the heading had been changed to "Applicable law".
The Chair asked what had been the motivation for this wording of the heading.
Adv Pienaar replied that it had been inserted in order to emphasise that international law must be taken into consideration.
The Chair asked what sort of matters would the court take into consideration aside from criminal matters. He wanted to know why the court would apply those laws and what the effect would be.
Asked to clarify, the Chair replied that a new rule of interpretation was being inserted and he wanted to know why.
Adv Pienaar answered that the clause was inserted because the Rome Statute was no longer part of the Bill but was nevertheless a part of international law, which needed to be taken into account.
In answer to the Chair asking if he felt that something had been lost since the Rome Statute had been removed from the Bill, Adv Pienaar replied that he did not.
Dr Basset pointed out that he had swapped subclauses (c) and (d) in accordance with the Committee's instructions. Most importantly, sub(c) gives effect to the principle of complementarity while sub(d) enables the Republic to co-operate with the court.
The Chair felt that there was some wording that needed to be discussed.
Dr Basset said that the department had been asked to look at retrospectivity and the reference to military courts, which had been removed. Essentially the clause said that any person who commits a crime would be punished and the definitions for the crimes had been made the same as in the Statute. Subclause (3) states:
"no prosecution may be instituted:
(a)without the consent of the National Director and
(b) if the crime was alleged to have been committed before the commencement of this Act."
The Chair said that the Committee would flag this issue for discussion.
Dr Basset pointed out that the Department had replaced "National Director" with "Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice" in sub(4). He remarked that the Chair had said that this should be done in terms of s111 of the Criminal Procedure Act, however he had had a look at the section and found that it gives the power to the National Director.
The Chair said that it could even be done in consultation, but the issue could be discussed later.
Dr Basset moved on to sub(6), which incorporates the principle of complementarity.
The Chair said that the word "unwilling" would have to be inserted into the clause so that it would use the same terminology as the Rome Statute.
Ms Camerer (NNP) said that she was not sure what the intention was. She felt that there should be something in writing from the National Director.
The Chair replied that that was dealt with in sub(5).
Dr Basset remarked that no changes had been made to this chapter. He pointed out that no changes had been made to Clauses 5 through to 34.
The Chair noted that Clause 6(7) had been removed.
Dr Basset confirmed that it had been because the Court's own rules and procedures would apply and there was no need to put that in the clause.
Dr Basset read through the clause and said that the wording had been taken from the Rome Statute.
Once the briefing on the amendments was over, the Chair felt that the Committee could now begin deliberations starting at the preamble.
Ms Camerer was not sure that "global village" was the appropriate term to use. She felt that community of nations was a more appropriate legal term. She also felt that the phrase in the preamble, which reads "bringing to justice persons who commit such atrocities", should be rephrased so that it reflected a shift in emphasis that persons who commit atrocities "should be brought to justice".
The Chair agreed that it should be spelt out more clearly.
Mr Mzizi (ANC) asked how far retrospectivity concerning war crimes could be implemented.
The Chair replied that in terms of Clause 4(3)(b), the Act would apply only to crimes committed after it came into operation so it would not act retrospectively at all.
Mr Mzizi explained that he had asked the question because in the past people who disobeyed orders were incarcerated.
The Chair responded that the concept had been rejected from the time of the Nazi trials. South African law actually states that member of the Defence Force should not obey an unlawful order. The issue was not what was done in the context of war but rather when one went further than that. In most cases regular laws would apply but the Bill applies to bigger crimes, especially those between nations. Apartheid was a crime against humanity and Bosnia was a prime example of war crimes.
Dr Delport felt that the preamble should include the phrase "or in terms of the principle of complementarity".
Dr Basset said that he would try and do something about the shift in emphasis.
The Chair felt that the preamble should read "pursuant to an obligation" rather than an undertaking. He felt that the preamble had all the main concepts but needed to be fine-tuned. International obligations only became part of domestic law if it were made so and he felt that they had done that.
Dr Delport complimented Dr Basset. He said that the problem had been solved on how to make the Statute part of South African law and he felt that the Bill was clearly the answer.
Dr Basset said that recognition had to be given to other countries because the Department had looked at legislation from Canada, New Zealand and the UK and had taken the best out of all of them and tried to "South Africanise" it.
The Chair was not happy with Clause 2 because he felt that courts should apply the Constitution.
Ms Camerer suggested that the phrase "in addition to any other law" could be added to the clause to compensate.
The Chair was concerned that the clause would become the benchmark that would be applied and welcomed Ms Camerer's suggestion. He asked if there was anything else to take note of under Clause 3. He said that sub(d) should make it clear that in the event of the Republic being unable or unwilling to prosecute, then the ICC would have jurisdiction. He felt that the objectives clause was good.
Mr Mzizi inquired where one could lodge an appeal in terms of the ICC. He felt that it was necessary since anyone could err.
The Chair responded that an Appeals Court would have to be created but that there were a number of judges who made up the quorum that decided a case.
Dr Basset replied that there is a special Appeal Division of the ICC that is set up in the Rome Statute from Article 81 onwards. He explained that the ICC had a Pre-trial Chamber, a Trial Chamber and an Appeals Chamber.
The Chair said that because of those provisions the Rome Statute could not be made part of South African law because they had nothing to do with the Republic. He asked that the heading to Clause 4 be changed so that it would not be the same as the heading for the Chapter.
He felt that the phrase "to try and punish" in Clause 3(c) did not sound right.
Dr Basset replied that he would try to improve it.
The Chair said that he would like a clause at the beginning of Clause 4 to the effect that the National Prosecuting Authority was obliged to consider (not to prosecute) the prosecution of the crimes referred to. He was trying to find a clause that makes clear the obligation in terms of the principle of complementarity and South Africa's international obligations.
Ms Camerer suggested that jurisdiction be made separate.
The Chair agreed that it was a good idea to separate the crimes from the procedure. The Chair noted that crimes had not been created except indirectly - the clause did not state that "genocide is a crime" and he asked the reason for that.
Dr Basset explained that the reason for that was because crimes had been defined in Clause 1.
The Chair asked if they were referred to as acts or conduct.
Dr Basset responded that it would probably be safer to use the word conduct.
The Chair suggested the use of "act/conduct". He asked if the wording from sub (c) had been taken from other legislation.
Dr Basset responded that the wording had come from the Statute itself.
The Chair wondered if immunity should be a bar to the handing over of people to the court. He asked if the Bill contained broad extra-territorial jurisdiction that was found in any other Acts.
Adv Pienaar replied that Belgium is the only country that has universal jurisdiction. For example, Belgium could ask for the surrender of a person who committed an offence in Yugoslavia. However Belgium was the only country with this kind of jurisdiction and the Bill had a narrower form of jurisdiction in terms of that contained in the Canadian legislation.
The Chair replied that the bigger problem was the financial implications of universal jurisdiction. It could lead to hundreds of requests to put people on trial. He asked Dr Basset to draft a resolution saying that the jurisdiction of South African courts had been extended to extra-territorial jurisdiction in line with that of Canada. Belgium has gone wider but there were clearly financial implications with regard to that. He wanted a resolution to be drafted by the Department of Foreign Affairs to see if they could extend it to universal jurisdiction in terms of the financial implications. He gave a response time of six months for the resolution.
Referring to Clause 4(5), the Chair asked that the word "fully" be moved to after "in writing".
Concerning Clause 4(6)(b) he said that the second option could be integrated into Clause 4(5) while the first option could remain as Clause 4(6)(b).
The Chair then asked Dr Basset to go through Chapter 3.
Dr Basset noted that he had not done anything on Chapter 3 because he was hoping to get a colleague from Foreign Affairs to work on it.
The Chair replied that he could not see why it should be in the Bill because the ICC would have its own rules and procedures and those would apply.
Dr Basset asked if he were suggesting that the entire chapter be removed.
The Chair replied that only the original Clause 7 should be removed. Clause 4(1) makes it clear that South Africa would assist and co-operate with the court whether it was inside or outside of the Republic.
Dr Basset, moving on to the new Clause 7 pertaining to the endorsement of warrants of arrest, said that there had been no requests for changes since the last meeting.
Mr Basset noted that the only changes were those made a while back to make it easier to read.
Ms Camerer felt that the clause was prescribing rules to the ICC and it sounded as though they were being told what to do.
The Chair said that the provisions reflected the Rome Statute and were there in order to assist the court.
Ms Camerer still felt as though the ICC were being told what to do.
The Chair felt that there was some merit in what she was saying and that if it was done too often it could create a problem, but did not think that it created a problem at present.
The Chair asked if it created a procedure for challenge of an arrest. He was a concerned that such a procedure would allow for a Harksen-like situation which would continue indefinitely. He felt that there should be some guidelines but cautioned against creating a bureaucratic nightmare.
Adv Pienaar said that the provision was similar to those in extradition agreements which usually provided for a matter to be postponed.
Dr Basset asked if the Department could came back to it.
The Chair responded that clearly there should be the usual rule but did not want to create the situation where, like with Harksen, a case could drag on for years. The one advantage of the provision was that a person could be put in jail pending handing him over to the court but he was not sure about the constitutionality of such a provision. However, he did not want to create the situation where a person could contest his handing over to the court due to the smallest of procedural errors.
Dr Basset said that he would look at the provision again.
Clauses 10, 11 and 12
The Chair looked through these clauses and asked where Part 2, concerning judicial assistance to the Court, came from.
Dr Basset replied that it came from Article 93 of the Rome Statute.
Clauses 14 to 30
The Chair went through these clauses and noted that Clause 17(1)(d), which provides for imprisonment of up to12 months, be increased to a period not exceeding five years.
Dr Basset took note of the amendment.
The Chair was of the opinion that the Department had now been given final instructions. He said that there was a need for the Committee to see it before it was voted on. The vote would probably take place on 24 May.
Dr Basset said that the memorandum would also have to be adapted in accordance with the changes.
The Chair reiterated his concern regarding Clause 9. He felt that a procedural irregularity could not be a bar to prosecution. The same procedures that apply to extradition could not apply in this case, as these are the most serious of crimes. A balance needed to be struck.
Briefing by the Minister
The Chair commenced the meeting by announcing that the Constitutional Court had that afternoon handed down a decision concerning Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act. He obtain a copy of the judgment so that it could be analysed by the Committee.
He remarked that the Committee had visited all the Chapter 9 institutions during the recess as part of its budget oversight. He thanked Mr Penuel Meduna, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, for making time in his busy schedule to appear before the Committee.
Mr Meduna thanked the members for Committee for accommodating the Department. The Deputy Minister was with him, as were the Deputy Director-General and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and depending on time constraints he would call on them to give their input.
He said that the starting point for the department was that justice is a virtue. It was important to ensure that people who operate the system are of moral integrity. Wherever problems had been encountered, the department had acted in accordance. It was important to act so that the public could see that no one is above the law.
The department's second tenet was justice for all. This included women, children, the aged and the disabled. Quite a few strides had been made concerning the building of infrastructure in the form of courts and police stations to ensure that people travel shorter distances. Another problem encountered was that of dilapidated infrastructure. He marvelled at measures taken by ordinary people, companies and even embassies who had come forward to help in the building of infrastructure, and thanked them for their efforts.
The third pillar was to uphold human rights to the extent that resources allow. This included the mass education of people on their rights and how to defend them. This had started at schools were students were taught something of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Much was being learnt from other countries in that regard. Those making use of the system were guaranteed an open and transparent process and were sure to be treated with respect and dignity. There were no people working in the department who did not consider themselves servants of the people. He felt that people should be treated as human beings no matter what had brought them there.
Delays in the system had tended to be the perennial problem. He reiterated the department's commitment to addressing them. The department was faced with the problems of reducing the number of case backlogs, improving financial and facilities management amongst others. The delays had many sources although the department was doing something to rectify the problems. Work was being done on pilot projects that needed to be tested before being put in practice. If analysed though, it was apparent that there were problems that were extraneous to the department. He gave the example of Cape Town where there is one truck that ferries prisoners from Pollsmoor Prison to the court in Cape Town. The truck usually left the prison no later than 6am and left the city at 2pm to be back at the prison in time. This meant that courts would have to stop hearing cases at 2pm. If the manager of a court was not linked to the transportation of prisoners through the Department of Transport, there was nothing that he could do. If the system were to work better, it was necessary to ensure clearer lines of communication and to ensure that the management structure has links to all relevant people. It needed to be acknowledged that there are financial implications to these changes and serious budgetary implications. The good results that are anticipated would come at a premium.
The fifth point was that justice needed to be managed. Accountability and improved service and delivery were of key importance. It was also important to encourage people to take advantage of some of the available courses in order to equip themselves for changes in the future and this had been met with much enthusiasm. The Minister had entered into a performance agreement with the Director-General and the Director-General had entered in a similar agreement with the Deputy Director-General. It was hoped that the concept would cascade down to the bottom-most level.
He asked the CFO to take the Committee through the report of the CFO to create a picture of what was wanted to be done.
Mr McKenzie remarked that the document handed out to the Committee was quite substantial and he understood that a meeting would take the following week for a more detailed discussion. The biggest expenditure regarded overspending on personnel at courts and as a result the department had had to cutback in other areas. The document went into a lot of detail and he felt to dig deeper would be too much. The thrust of the direction in the document discusses what has been achieved and then addresses every audit query, projects and strategic framework of what the department intended to do. This was enough to assess the past, the present and the future. The department had also asked the Auditor-General to do a performance report on the current situation. This had occurred in response to a media report that things were not going well. The thrust was that the department does not have the resources to comply with the Public Finance Management Act. People are being attended to. Eighty percent of employees had been sent on a course and these were people who had never before attended a course. Regarding the maintenance system, the department was working on a fingerprint recognition system whereby a person could receive maintenance via an ATM without having to be literate. This would have the effect of people at the courts spending less time on maintenance matters and more time on other matters.
The Minister then handed over to the Deputy Minister, Ms Cheryl Gillwald, for some additional remarks.
The Deputy Minister said that she had collected some statistics that describe the Ministry's strategy. Some of these were an increase in maintenance officers, the Saturday courts which had reduces the number of cases by a significant amount, improvements in physical infrastructure by the upgrading of 50 existing buildings and the building of 26 new facilities. In addition, funding had been obtained for six sexual offences courts. Regarding cases of child abuse, 97 life sentences had been handed down in the previous year and this sent a significant message. The Justice Footprint Project was also underway to examine the three main focus areas of the courts - domestic violence, maintenance and sexual offences - and to write up on the many conclusions and tested areas of delivery.
The Minister added that special criminal courts had had a success rate of 92%. It was interesting to note that it benefits from an integrated approach. Their turnaround period was the shortest. He had been asked by municipalities to set up special magistrates courts to deal with traffic offences. Many experiments were being conducted. The system of justice sits at the centre of the country and the people look to them to see that everything is running well. Forensic work was being conducted, which he did not want to discuss in detail, to clean the system. If problematic people were found it would be good to haul them in and purge certain elements however this was a difficult task from an administrative point of view.
The Chair, referring to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) report, asked the Minister about a reported R200 million under-spending.
Mr MacKenzie replied that the press report had been released last year but that the money had in fact been rolled over to the following year. Although the money had not been paid out at that time, it had been spent in terms of contractual commitments. A similar problem existed for the current year but in reverse. There was a current rollover request of R140 million but the department was only allowed to ask for the amount they had committed for spending which was R36 million.
The Deputy Minister added that the Treasury does not grant monies unless it was part of committed spending. There was a distinction between this an overspending.
Ms Camerer (NNP) commented that the Minister had used good slogans that were easy to identify with. She asked for clarity on the issue of management and public finances. She wanted to know where they are now in terms of the goal and resources. She noted that the Minister had stressed court administration as an important focus. Some indications had been given that the budget amount for court administration had not increased or taken into account inflation.
Mr Mzizi (ANC) said that the Minister had spoken of trying to root out the bad elements in the system. He asked how he planned to go about doing that. He found that the usual practice was that a person who was found to be corrupt was usually transferred somewhere else rather than removed from the system.
Mr Swart (ACDP) raised the issue of restorative justice and asked for comment on that. He said that the number of awaiting trial prisoners was starting to reduce but there were still approximately 20 000 who were in prison because they could not afford bail. He asked how the department were experiencing the s65(e)bail provisions.
Ms Mhlawe (ANC) remarked that the work that had been done must be appreciated and it gave hope that things were going to change. She noted that there had been improvement in the infrastructure in disadvantaged areas but there was still a lot that needed to be done. She asked for comment in this regard.
Mr Meduna replied that a training project had just been completed. He wanted to believe that it is working although it would take a bit of time. The Department had been considered a lawyers department but there were other skills that were also needed. The department had to manage with resources that were at its disposal. It was correct to observe that Justice did not have sufficient funds. The truth was that its speed was determined by the amount of its resources. There was also a need to look at personnel and morale etc. In the previous years judges had been found to be underpaid and their salaries had been increased by 10% because their salaries had long since ceased to take into account the rate of inflation.
He said that efforts were being made to root out the bad elements. Some things were being done that were not pleasant but even a small theft or fraud could not be justified. People could not be paid whom the system did not deserve. He had raised the issue with Cabinet and suspending people without pay had been discussed, subject to them being recompensed upon exoneration.
He said that the issue of restorative justice turned on the prisoner's willingness to admit the wrong that he had done and the community's willingness to take him back. It was an issue that he found very interesting. On awaiting trial prisoners, he was glad to note that the numbers had come down. Lots of creative things were being done by Inspecting Judge Fagan and others. There was a need to consider the pre-trial service however this could only be determined when the means were obtained. The difficulty lay where a person who could not afford his R300 bail was kept in prison awaiting trial at a much greater cost to the State. This was a waste that needed to be addressed.
Concerning the lack of infrastructure, he said that he did not want to blame others but the fact was that the building of infrastructure was done by different departments. It bothered him that goods that were stolen from the department were sold to the elite. He felt that it was a fundamental problem that needed to be addressed.
Mr MacKenzie said that the bottom line was that the department did not have the resources to implement the PFMA. The current budget for the courts was the highest in the entire budget and had been increased by over 29% without the department's budget changing. This had meant a shift in services. A problem with obtaining money from the Treasury was due to the Board who did not hear the department's case in time for the department to receive the money. The Treasury had said that they could not grant a rollover request and the department had had to wait until the following year.
Dr Delport said that he was happy with what the department was doing to get the system functioning and in particular to get the operators to function at optimum. The Minister had said that there was a difficulty in dealing with people in the system who committed fraud or theft. He felt that there was a need to look at the appointments procedure. His person opinion was that a person gives status to a post and not the other way around.
The Chair was worried that the procedures that are in place can be challenged and said that there was a need to be careful. He had heard of a case where a magistrate who had been caught twice for drunken driving was going to be removed from his office. He was concerned about the precedent that this would set. He felt that there were serious problems and in particular the appointments system needed to be looked at.
Adv Masutha (ANC) echoed Ms Mhlawe's statements. A visit made to the Northern Cape had shown that the system was working. His issue related to a policy decision concerning the shifting from the regional approach to management to a more court-based management. The visit to the Northern Cape had indicated that the regional system was working. He had found that problems that were encountered there were due to a lack of co-ordination between the different departments. He inquired if these factors had been taken into account when making the shift to the court system.
He also raised the issue of disability and said that he had found in Kimberley that a prosecutor who was becoming blind was without support. On the whole he had found a general lack of awareness about the needs of disabled people, for example, with regard to ramps, toilets and sign language interpreters.
Mr Magwanishe (ANC) asked what was the impact of the anti-fraud and anti-corruption hotline.
Ms Camerer inquired as to what was happening with the maintenance investigators. She raised the issue of the Legal Aid Board where the Minister had indicated that it would cost the State R150 million and asked if there was any planning being done with regard to that.
The Chair added, concerning the same issue, that the Constitutional Judgment dealing with the R150 million issue dealt with the issue of leave to appeal, and appeals were now flooding into the High Court. It seemed that work was being done but he asked if there was someone who could brief the Committee on this issue.
Regarding Public Works, he said that the Committee was 100% behind Justice dealing with its own issues. He gave the example of the little town of Belfast that had been visited during the recess where the magistrate had shown the Committee maps of how the court would be changed but the regional offices had been found to know nothing about them. The changes had however been approved by Public Works which meant that the money would have come out of the department's budget. The Committee was therefore 100% behind Justice being in charge of its own interests.
Concerning co-ordination between the departments, he suggested setting aside two or three days during the recess period to put the relevant Directors-General and/or the Ministers together to talk about these issues and how to develop mechanisms and protocols. He said that some thought should be given to whether they would agree to this.
The Minister said that he had already indicated what the thinking was in terms of rooting out bad elements. He agreed with Dr Delport that there were problems with regard to appointments. He said that he could not deal with the matter in detail until the Sutherland judgment had been dealt with by the Constitutional Court.
He was aware that there were provinces that would be happy with regional management but felt that there was a general pressure to change to a more court-based management approach.
He said that there is a document that details what the intentions as a cluster were. He asked for a bit of time before a parliamentary delegation could interrogate the cluster on it. There is a broad agreement to change but this would take longer to percolate to the bottom. Breaking down all the walls that had been built over time would take time, especially with regard to reaching the people at the bottom.
There is also a need for support for people with disabilities and a need to get people to understand that there are different ways to operate, for example, recently employees and people from the community had gone out and built cement ramps on their own initiative. More was needed to be done to build this sort of culture.
He said that the anti-corruption/anti-fraud hotline was working wonders. Whistle blowers were coming forward and informing the department. There was a need to encourage people to use it.
The Department would give a full picture on maintenance when they appeared before the Committee. The situation was not dysfunctional. There was a need to say so and to express gratitude to the people who had helped, in particular to NGOs who had worked without receiving a cent. Work was being done concerning the legal aid costs. It was necessary to intervene but before that could be done tests had to be carried out. The Department was waiting to hear what the impact would be.
On Public Works, he did not want to comment. He marvelled at and appreciated the comments made by the Committee but felt that it would be improper for a Minister to prattle against another department. However, he felt that it was not the problem of one department but of the government and was something that needed to be sorted out. There were also problems with the tendering system and it was often the case that something that had been agreed to would be struck out because nothing had been heard from the Tendering Board. He was grateful to every person who made an effort to make sure that the system works.
The Chair thanked the Minister. He said that he agreed with the sentiments that people were working hard to keep the system going. There was a need to stop being alarmist and give credit where it was due so that when criticism is made it is taken seriously.
The Deputy Minister added that she had identified two major risk areas in the budget. The process of transformation was of concern. A disciplinary action could take place quite quickly but the appeal process was the problem. In every case people 'forum shop' and then take the appeal to the Minister and back again. She felt that people's rights could be protected in a far more efficient way.
In terms of disability she said that all the new courts were of an international standard and the old courts were being refurbished.