Strategic Planning Workshop Report & Planned Study Tour to Vietnam: discussion

Defence

12 September 2012
Chairperson: Mr J Maake (ANC), Mr S Montsitsi (ANC; Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to discuss outstanding minutes. All the minutes discussed were adopted except for those dated 15 March 2012. The reason for this was that there was a concern raised regarding a letter which was handed over to Co-Chairperson Montsitsi by Minister Jeff Radebe during the course of the meeting, and because the letter as well as its contents were not distributed to the rest of the committee and because the matter was not recorded in the meeting’s minutes, a proposal was made that the minutes of that meeting not be adopted until an investigation into the issue of the letter was made by Mr Montsitsi and formally presented to the committee.

The main concerns that were raised by Co-Chairperson Montsitsi were the shortage of full time members within the Joint Committee, the study tour to Vietnam as well as the issue of the late adoption of weekly committee minutes.

The main point of discussion was that of the study tour to Vietnam. The Democratic Alliance were opposed to the trip, stating that it was not an efficient use of the country’s resources and that the committee should be investing those resources in delivering on the committee’s responsibilities of oversight visits within the country. Members who supported the study trip to Vietnam motivated that the trip was an opportunity for South Africa to help in the transformation and development of the South African National Defence Force, through the observation and learning that would take place by acquiring knowledge from overseas countries which are more experienced than South Africa in the area of exit mechanisms.

Meeting report

Consideration outstanding Minutes
Committee minutes dated 23 February 2012
Co-Chairperson Mr Maake tabled the document for consideration.
Mr M Zulu (IFP) moved for the adoption of the minutes, however Co-Chairperson Mr J Maake suggested that another mover needs to be noted for the adoption of the minutes since M Zulu was absent in the meeting. Another mover was noted.
The minutes were approved with no amendments.

Committee minutes dated 23 February 2012 01 March 2012
Co-Chairperson Mr Montsitsi tabled the minutes for consideration.
Members were satisfied with the document and approved it with no changes.
Committee minutes dated 08 March 2012
Co-Chairperson Mr Montsitsi tabled the minutes for consideration.
Members were satisfied with the document and approved it with no changes.
Committee minutes dated 15 March 2012
The minutes were tabled for consideration.

Mr D Maynier (DA) drew attention to page four, paragraph six; he enquired about the letter that Minister Jeff Radebe handed to Co-Chairperson Mr Montsitsi and questioned why the incident was not included in the committee minutes.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi asked whether Mr Maynier knew what the contents of the letter where.
Mr Maynier responded that he did not know what the contents of the letter was and that he was hoping that the Co-Chairperson could explain to the Committee what the contents of the letter were.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi replied that he did not recall being handed a letter by the Minister and that he would enquire about the incident with the secretary of the Committee and report back to the Committee Members at a later stage.

Ms N Madedla (ANC) stated that since Minister Jeff Radebe did not announce that he was handing over a letter to Mr Montsitsi it was not possible for the secretary to have captured the incident in the minutes of the meeting.

Mr Manynier suggested that the meeting should not move forward without the issue of the letter being clarified and the contents of the letter being discussed with the rest of the committee members. He then stated that he knew that the contents of the letter concerned the
National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC); therefore the letter was key.

Ms M Dikgale (ANC; Limpompo) drew attention to the fact that initially Mr Maynier stated that he did not know what the contents of the letter were; now he was saying otherwise, even though the incident of the letter was not captured in the committee minutes. If Mr Maynier knew about the letter and its important contents, why did he not share this information with the rest of the committee members?

Mr D Bloem (COPE; Free State) stated that discussing the issue of the letter in the present meeting was a waste of time. He therefore suggested that Co-Chairperson Montsitsi investigate the issue of the letter and its existence, then discuss the contents of the letter at a later stage, Mr Bloem then suggested that the minutes of the 15 March 2012 should not be adopted.

Mr E Mlambo (ANC) agreed with Mr Bloem that the minutes of the meeting not be adopted until the issue of the letter has been clarified.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi agreed that the letter be investigated and that the minutes of the 15 March 2012 not be adopted until such a time.

The Committee minutes of the 15 March 2012 were not adopted.

Committee minutes dated 26 April 2012
The minutes were tabled for consideration.
Ms Dikgale stated that she submitted an apology for her absence in the meeting; however that was not reflected on the minutes.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi noted movers for the adoption of the minutes; minutes were adopted.

Committee minutes dated 10 May 2012
The minutes were tabled for consideration.
Co-Chairperson Montsitsi noted movers for the adoption of the minutes; minutes were adopted with no changes.

Committee minutes dated 17 May 2012
The minutes were tabled for consideration.
Co-Chairperson Montsitsi noted movers for the adoption of the minutes; minutes were adopted.

Report on Joint Workshop, dated Saturday 19 May 2012
The report was tabled for consideration.
Co-Chairperson Montsitsi began by outlining some outstanding issues that came out since the workshop.

Firstly was the issue of the Rules Committee, Mr Montsitsi stated that the Rules Committee had agreed to cut down on the membership of the Committee to thirty members, as a direct result of the recommendations made at the workshop.

Secondly, Mr Montsitsi drew attention to the issue of the shortage of full time members in the Joint Committee, who operated separately from the Portfolio Committee. He further outlined that the problem with this was that when the Committee had very important errands and some members were not present at the meetings, the Committee could not function.

He further stated that committee members therefore needed to look at how the activities of the Portfolio Committee impact on the Joint Committee, so that the Joint Committee, with its huge responsibilities and tasks, could execute its mandate effectively.

Study Tour to Vietnam
Co-Chairperson Montsitsi announced that the National Assembly had approved the tour and that the application was with the National Council of Provinces.
Other Matters
Co-Chairperson Montsitsi drew attention to resources and how financial resources were being depleted. Added to that, he stated that exit mechanisms within the South African National Defence Force were an impediment to the upward movement of officials, therefore the issue of the study tour to Vietnam needed to be supported since the Joint Committee had never taken part in an overseas study.

Mr Maynier replied that he did not think it was necessary for the Committee to travel to Vietnam on great expenses to examine exit mechanisms, seeing that internally, the Committee has not done regular oversight. He further stated that oversight needed to be done within the country first, as a means of executing resources efficiently.

Mr N Fihla (ANC) replied that it was surprising that Mr Maynier raised such concerns about the Vietnam study tour at such a late hour, seeing that there had been a lot of discussion around the issue. He concluded that Mr Maynier should have raised his concerns earlier.

Ms Dikgale stated that as much as it was important to conduct oversight within the country, South Africa does not have exit mechanisms; therefore it was important that the committee supported the overseas study tour.

Mr S Esau (DA) stated that the Committee has not fulfilled its responsibilities of oversight within the country such as visiting military bases; therefore it could not itself to investigating exit mechanisms outside the country while it had not fulfilled its responsibilities within the country. He suggested that internet searches and correspondence with embassies as a means of conducting research on exit mechanisms.

Mr Fihla replied that he found it strange that Mr Esau did not see the importance of visiting other countries that had more experience than South Africa, in an effort to observe and learn from them to improve South Africa’s capacity.

Mr Maynier replied that the Committee was not fulfilling its responsibilities of conducting oversight visits within the country. He further requested that the secretary of the committee distribute the draft programme for the visit to Vietnam as well as its budget.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi replied that the budget would be made available.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi stated that the issue of oversight and exit mechanisms was one that affected issues of transformation and development within the South African National Defence Force. He drew attention to the 2002 trip undertaken by the Committee to Algeria to investigate conditions of military veterans and the services provided to them by their government. He stated that upon return, public hearings were held with the military veterans within the country, who then raised their concerns and proposals to Parliament. This resulted in the Military Veterans Act.

He then reiterated the fact that because overseas countries had more experience than South Africa, a lot could be learned from them, in an effort to improve the lives of South Africans.

He also raised the point that the Democratic Alliance (DA) should stop opposing issues of transformation and development within the South African National Defence Force, as young officials who were highly qualified were leaving the defence force because of the lack of upward mobility within the defence force.

Mr Maynier raised a point of order, stating that it was not because the Democratic Alliance was opposed to issues of transformation and development within the South African National Defence Force, rather the party did not see the Vietnam trip as an efficient utilisation of the country’s resources.

Mr Bloem stated that the Vietnam study tour should not be discussed in the present meeting because the tour had already been approved by the National Assembly and the decision could not be reversed.

Co-Chairperson Maake pointed out the issue of the disturbances in the progress of the Committee simply because of the Joint rules which stated that business can continue, but decisions could not be taken without the presence of the National Council of Provinces. He suggested that the issue be open for discussion by the Committee.

Co-Chairperson Montsitsi suggested that the issue be forwarded to next week’s meeting agenda, so as to properly discuss it in the presence of presiding officers.

Mr Bloem agreed with Mr Montsitsi that Mr Maake’s raised concern be discussed in the following meeting, with the advisors present.

Attendance & Committee Minutes
The fourth issue that Co-Chairperson Montsitsi raised was that of late committee meeting minutes. He suggested that the secretary be encouraged to finalise the weekly minutes in time for the next meeting, as it was not acceptable that minutes of meetings that took place in February be adopted in September only.

The meeting was adjourned.


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