Second Term Session Report: review and adoption

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

07 August 2012
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson looked forward to the Committee's report on its recent study tour to Canada, which was generally a success. He thanked Members for their participation in the oversight visit to five provinces. He welcomed the new Committee Secretary, Mr Nkayiso Mkhize, and commended Ms Ayanda Boss for her services. A Petition Indaba had been scheduled but he was still awaiting approval from the Speaker and the House Chair.

An ANC Member requested copies of draft reports before the Committee considered them. A second ANC Member recommended that Ms Boss be included in preparations for the Indaba to ensure continuity. A DA Member concurred. He, however, raised concerns about failures in communication in the oversight visit. Such failures could entail wasteful expenditure, and the matter might need to be raised politically. The Chairperson agreed. 

The Committee reviewed its Second Term Session Report and adopted it with corrections.

A DA Member wanted a full record of items submitted, dealt with, and decided upon, not an apparent selection. After discussion, the Chairperson suggested that the Committee might issue in January or February three reports – the fourth quarter report, the annual report, and a cumulative report covering all the Committee's work from the beginning of 2009 to the present. The DA Member concurred.

After discussion, the Chairperson said that at regular meetings any notices based on the programme should be issued, and at management sub-committee meetings on Tuesdays any alterations would be notified, together with minutes.

Meeting report

 

Introduction
The Chairperson welcomed all present but regretted that the meeting was one Member short of a quorum, and both agenda items required a vote in order to adopt.

Study tour to Canada
He looked forward to the Committee's report on its recent study tour to Canada, which, he believed, was generally a success. The report was expected to be ready for consideration soon. He appreciated the way in which the delegates conducted themselves on behalf of all the Committee's Members. They did well and there were no substantive challenges that required the Committee's attention. Again this was 90 per cent successful.

Oversight tour
Last week and the week before last, Committee Members had toured five provinces. He thanked Members for their participation and the way in which they had conducted themselves in the way they had done across all provinces. Likewise a report would in due course be ready for the Committee's consideration.

Welcoming new Committee Secretary
He welcomed Mr Nkayiso Mkhize, the new Committee Secretary, who had relieved Ms Ayanda Boss, who had returned to her previous assignment. However, even in absentia, one should commend Ms Boss's good work. Under her coordination, the entire Committee had become one family, and he would use his discretionary fund to send her a greetings card of thanks and good wishes to be signed by all Committee Members and to say that 'she was part of us and we will miss her'. At the same time, we should welcome Mr Mkhize into the family. The Committee had a culture of working together which was key to its success.

Petition Indaba
A Petition Indaba had been scheduled for 'the fourth and fifth'. He was still waiting for a formal meeting with the Speaker and with the House Chair, as he felt it important to take them into his confidence, and it was impossible to ask external stakeholders to participate without their approval. He hoped that possibly today he would obtain an audience with them. 

He welcomed Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) whose arrival now made the quorum complete.

Discussion
Mr F Bhengu (ANC) concurred, in particular in commending Ms Boss, and requested copies of draft reports before consideration so that he could study them [poor audibility 09m 22s to 10m 15s].

The Chairperson agreed, and said that such draft reports would be circulated in good time. 
  
Ms F Khumalo (ANC) concurred, especially in welcoming Mr Mkhize as Committee Secretary. She wanted to make it official that while working towards the Petition Indaba, it was important that all Members worked hard together to ensure that it took place. Would it not be possible to request that Ms Boss be part of it as she was involved when the project began and to work with Mr Mkhize to ensure continuity?

The Chairperson agreed with this suggestion and would make a special request to the senior managers of the unit to consider making Ms Boss available until conclusion of the Petition Indaba process. However, this was not to suggest that Mr Mkhize lacked the capacity, but to say that the Committee had invested in Ms Boss in the work done so far.  

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) concurred in commending Ms Boss and welcoming Mr Mkhize.

He raised a new point regarding the visit to the provinces recently undertaken. It was his impression that there had been a gap in communications between the arrangements made here at the National Assembly and those people in the provinces who were to receive the Committee Members, at least in the provinces which he was able to visit. He asked that enquires be made as to where exactly things went wrong.  Was it from the Committee's side that it did not communicate with the right people? The Committee's staff had been advised to communicate with the provincial house chairs concerned, but he gathered that they preferred all communications to go through different channels. This Committee's problems were similar to those experienced by other committees of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). He wanted it put on record that things should have been done better. Who was responsible for that? If such problems were not resolved, poor communication could lead to fruitless and wasteful expenditure if Members arrived at a place only to find that they were not expected. This resulted in embarrassment on both sides. This matter might even need to be addressed politically.

The Chairperson agreed that this had been a disturbing phenomenon that required investigation. He was sure that the Committee's support staff would have to find out where things went wrong; not by way of witch-hunting but to make sure that the same mistakes did not recur. This was especially important in planning for the Indaba. He noted that in the past two weeks he had to serve in a managerial role, which was more the work of the Secretariat, and this was undesirable. 
 
Second Term Session Report: review and adoption
Mr Bhengu corrected wording relating to there not being an oversight trip 'in the period under review'. Mr Van der Westhuizen supported Mr Bhengu. The Chairperson agreed, and further clarified that the trip to Canada was a study tour and not an oversight visit.

Mr Van der Westhuizen noted that Mr J Smalle (DA) had a proposal, and asked when proposals were included and excluded in the Committee's reporting. He wanted a full record of which items had been submitted, which items had been dealt with, and which items the Committee had taken decisions on, so that Members could have the full picture. It seemed that only a selection had been included. It was not only items that the Committee had initiated in this second term that were listed here. There were also items from 2010 and so on. This could be a very handy summary of all the work of the Committee and therefore other items as well should be included. Perhaps there was another reason why only these particular items were referred to.

The Chairperson replied that if Mr Van der Westhuizen were to look at legislative proposals referred for consideration (paragraph 10.1) and then go and look at paragraph 11, he would find that some of the things that he was raising were addressed there. Maybe Mr Van der Westhuizen wanted to do things differently but the Chairperson thought that paragraph 11 described matters that the Committee had completed, while paragraph 10 included matters that were still 'in the pipeline'.  

Mr Van der Westhuizen suggested including everything in paragraph 10 with the various dates so that Members could keep track of the Committee's work.

The Chairperson inferred that Mr Van der Westhuizen wanted everything condensed into one table.

Mr Van der Westhuizen did not see a problem in having a duplicate record of what the Committee had done in the previous term so long as it had a full record of all the legislative proposals and petitions referred to the Committee. Then in paragraph 11, in terms of the specific meetings that were held in this particular term,   the matters considered could be included together with the progress or outcome. This would help the Committee to keep track of all its work.

The Chairperson thought that by January or February the Committee issued two reports – the fourth quarter report and the annual report. Perhaps the Committee should also issue a third report – a cumulative one covering its work since the beginning of 2009 to the present. However, to produce a cumulative quarterly report might appear clumsy.   

Mr Van der Westhuizen supported the Chairperson's idea.

The Report was adopted with no objections.

Circulation of minutes and notices: discussion
The Chairperson explained that the Committee's management sub-committee usually met on Tuesdays at lunchtime and took about an hour to amend as necessary. He was sure that by 15h00 every Tuesday it could be agreed that minutes and notices could be circulated among Members to give them a proper opportunity to make input.

Ms Khumalo pointed out that Members tended to prioritise their commitments according to the sequence in which they received notices. She preferred notice in advance. For example, she would have preferred notice of this day's meeting while on oversight, with a reminder the day before. At the same time, she considered all committees equal in status.

The Chairperson agreed. Even in a meeting like the present one, any notices based on the programme should be issued, and on Tuesdays it would only be if there were alterations that notices would be issued, but minutes should still be circulated after the management sub-committee's meeting.

Committee minutes: adoption
The Committee adopted its minutes of 13 June 2012 with corrections.

 The meeting was adjourned.

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