The Committee received feedback on the proposed workshop on the Kader Asmal Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions Report and a progress report on court progress regarding provision for motions of no confidence in the rules of the National Assembly. Also on the agenda of the Committee was the nomination of the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Review of National Assembly Rules and a progress report on the work of the Sub Committee. The Committee planned to conclude with the consideration of proposals on the composition of the National Assembly Programming Committee.
On the feedback on the proposed workshop on the Kader Asmal Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions Report, the Committee resolved, upon the proposal from the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, that workshops on the document should first be held at party level before a general workshop at the level of the Rules Committee.
The Committee was informed that the Subcommittee on the Review of the Assembly Rules had not yet completed the review process even though it had hoped to complete the process by the end of the year. The Committee agreed to adopt the review at its first meeting in 2014.
The Rules Committee deferred the nomination of the Chairperson of the Sub Committee and the finalisation of the proposals relating to the composition of the Programming Committee for its first meeting in 2014.
Introduction by Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed all the members and participants to the meeting and indicated that there had been some changes in the composition of the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules of the National Assembly. The changes had been so drastic that the SubCommittee was not left with many members. This matter had to be addressed and had been included in the agenda for the meeting.
The Chairperson received apologies from Mr C Frolick (ANC), Mr J De Lange (ANC), Ms J Fubbs (ANC), Mr L Landers (ANC), Mr J Steenhuisen (DA), Ms J Killian (COPE), Mr S Ntapane (UDM), Mr H Gaum (ANC) and Ms D Schafer (DA).
Consideration and Adoption of the Agenda
The Chairperson asked if there was any matter which Members wanted to include on the agenda of the meeting.
Members were satisfied with the agenda and approved it.
Outstanding Committee Minutes
The Committee had three sets of minutes from previous meetings to consider.
Minutes from the 12 March 2013
The Chairperson put forward the minutes to the Committee for consideration.
There were no corrections or comments from the Members.
The Chairperson said that he was happy that Members were satisfied that the minutes were a true reflection of the proceedings. He further noted that since there was no quorum, the Committee was going to slowly go through the consideration of the other minutes while waiting for other Members to arrive.
Minutes of the 19 March 2013
The Chairperson presented to the Committee the draft minutes of the 19 March 2013 for consideration.
There were no corrections or comments from the Members.
Minutes of the 20 March 2013
The Chairperson presented to the Committee the draft minutes of the 20 March 2013 for consideration.
There were no corrections or comments from the Members.
The Chairperson said that the assumption was that the minutes were a true reflection of the meetings of the 19 and 20 March. He suggested that since there was not yet a quorum, the Committee could proceed with other business and return to the adoptions at a later stage once there was a quorum.
Feedback on proposed workshop on Review of Chapter 9 and Associated Institutions Report
The Chairperson called on the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms N Mfeketo (ANC) to brief the Committee.
Ms Mfeketo told the Committee that the workshop was discussed at the last Rules Committee meeting and the view at the time was that the workshop should be done for the Rules Committee. The view she wanted to present to the Committee was that it was much better if the workshop was started within parties so that by the time there was a workshop, the areas to be dealt with were known. She proposed that the Office of the Institutions Supporting democracy (OISD), which was located in the Speakers office, assist the parties to arrange workshops to discuss the issues and come up with questions that they wanted to deliberate on in the rules Committee. She said that the Committee was going to be running around in circles if it did not first discuss it as parties and see what areas needed to be “workshopped”.
The Chairperson said that it was important to note that the Deputy Speaker was heading up the OISD and the proposal was that there should be workshops at party level. The issue had been around since the Third Parliament and he was not sure if everyone remembered what was in the document. The Committee hoped to finalise the issue in the Fourth Parliament and not to send it beyond. This meant that decisions had to be taken in the current Parliament but for that to happen, the Committee needed to revise the document and refresh their memories to have a clear understanding. The Workshop was going to be facilitated so that parties could have a better understanding. At the end of the party workshops, a general workshop could be held. Hopefully, this could lead to some decision in one way or the other.
Mr A Watson (DA) sought clarity if the actual workshop was about the Kader Asmal document.
The Chairperson confirmed that it agreed.
Mr Watson asked what the timeframes were because looking at the programme Members were not going to be around much for the rest of the year.
Mr R Mdakane (ANC) said that his party would support the idea of a workshop within the parties because it was mindful of the time. In consultation with the Whips of the parties, the Deputy Speaker could advise as to the appropriate timeframes. The ANC also agreed that the matter should not be delayed beyond the Fourth Parliament.
The Chairperson said that in principle there was agreement that workshops were relevant but the question was in relation to the timeframe as there was clearly not enough time in terms of the programme of Parliament.
Ms Mfeketo said that there were only 12 sitting days left for the current term. The workshops could be facilitated at party level as soon as the parties were ready. She suggested that since there were Thursday caucus meetings for parties, a time could be allocated for the workshops. If members read the document, all of it did not have to be studied in the workshops. It was the critical recommendations which had to be looked at in the workshops. The workshop had to outline the implications of the recommendations for members of the Committee to understand before it could be taken to the House. All parties could communicate a selected Thursday meeting when they could be ready to take the workshop.
The Chairperson said that the Chief Whips Forum could be of assistance in this regard. It was important to remember that with the Kader Asmal Report, some of the parts were very simple and straight forward and only very few were very contentious so only those complex ones had to be “workshopped”. He reminded the Chief Whips to take special note and prioritise their involvement in the planning.
Progress Report on Court Proceedings regarding Provision for Motions of No Confidence in the Rules of the National Assembly
The Chairperson said that Adv Zuraya Adhikarie, Chief Legal Adviser, Parliament’s Constitutional and Legal Services Office, was going to provide the Committee with an update on the on Court Proceedings regarding Provision for Motions of No Confidence in the Rules of the National Assembly.
Adv Adhikarie told the Committee that the court judgement was imminent. She had spoken to Counsel the previous day and it was expected before the end of August in terms of normal process timelines. Until the judgement was gotten, there was no legal direction to be given to the Committee.
The Chairperson said that until the judgement was gotten, nothing could be done. It was however noted that there was progress in terms of the rules and hopefully it was going to be finalised before the end of the year.
Nomination of Chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules of the National Assembly
The Chairperson said that he had been informed that there had been some changes to the composition of the Subcommittee. He asked if there was a Chairperson of the Subcommittee.
Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, replied that was Mr M Masutha was the Chairperson of the Subcommittee. However, he was no longer a Member of the Committee and the nomination for his replacement had to be made during this meeting.
The Chairperson said that there had to be nominations for a new Chairperson. It was also important to establish a new composition for the Subcommittee as many members had left the Committee.
Mr Mdakane said that the ANC was considering the issue and a name was going to be submitted to the Committee at a later stage.
The Chairperson said that he was hoping that the meeting could get a name because the issue had been in abeyance for a while.
Mr S Sizani (ANC), Chief Whip of the majority party, said that the ANC would like the Committee to finalise the matter as soon as possible and proposed that the ANC submit its nomination later that day.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee could task the Chief Whips forum to finalise the matter. This was the last meeting of the Rules Committee for the year and it was important for the Committee to finalise the matter.
Mr Watson said that the opposition was willing to submit a name if the majority party was not ready.
The Chairperson agreed and said that was how democracy worked.
Mr Sizani assured Mr Watson that the matter was going to be finalised in less than one day. The ANC was not aware that the matter had to be concluded during this meeting and that this was the last meeting of the Rules Committee for the year.
Mr Xaso said that according to Rule 173 of the Rules of the National Assembly, the Rules Committee had to appoint one of the members of the Subcommittee as the Chairperson. This meant that the appointment had to be made by the Rules Committee. If the matter could not be finalised in this meeting, a special meeting could be convened for that purpose but the Rules Committee had to appoint the Chairperson.
Mr Sizani asked if there was a prescribed format for the appointment and whether the ANC could not send through the name of the candidate to the rest of the parties.
The Chairperson said that the ANC had to make a recommendation which was going to be adopted by the Rules Committee. The problem with getting another meeting was that it might not happen as the programme was very tight.
Mr Sizani said that they were mindful of the need for urgency in terms of the nomination but he pleaded that the ANC should be permitted to submit the name the next day.
The Chairperson said that the Committee could proceed with the next item on the agenda.
Progress Report on the Work of the SubCommittee
Mr Mdakane read through the progress report outlining the review of the rules of the National Assembly.
[See Report to the National Assembly Rules Committee – The Review of Rules Progress to date, 20 August 2013]
The Chairperson said that when the Committee decided on the review of the rules last year, it was agreed that it should be finalised by June 2013 but although there was a lot of work done, it was not possible for it to be finalised by then and it looked like it was not going to be finalised in 2013. The concrete proposal from the Subcommittee was that it should finalised before the end of the Fourth term. The proposal was that the first meeting of the Rules Committee in 2014 should formally discuss and adopt the reviewed Rules. He asked if that was doable.
Mr Mdakane said that it was doable.
The Chairperson said that it should not only be considered as doable but it should be done. The Sub Committee should be allowed to complete its work and not only deal with the Rules chapter-by-chapter but it should deal with the whole package and be given to parties for internal debate. This was going to enable the Members to understand the rules well and effectively participate in the consideration and adoption.
Consideration of proposal on the Composition of the National Assembly Programme Committee
The Chairperson asked the Table Staff of the National Assembly to brief the Committee on proposals for the composition of the National Assembly Programming Committee.
Ms Marina Griebenow, Procedural Advisor, explained that during the course of the discussions on the review of the Rules for the no confidence motion, one of the issues which came up was changing the composition of the Programming Committee.
What was discussed in the Sub Committee was a proposed change which would give the majority party a majority in the Programming Committee so that when it came to decision making, the ANC would be able to carry any proposals before the Committee. The Table Staff had proposed some rule changes and these changes were discussed and if the Committee agreed to the changes, it was going to have to decide the actual composition.
The Table Staff proposed that Rules 188(2) and 188(3) should be scrapped. A decision making rule was proposed to be inserted which provided that a question before the Programme Committee be decided when a quorum in terms of Rule 133 was present and there was agreement among the majority of members present.
The Committee was presented with three options for the composition of the Programming Committee. The first option was one where all parties were represented in the Programming Committee with a total of 37 Members. Secondly, if the clusters of smaller parties were represented by Whips, it was going to lead to a situation where there were 23 Members. The current membership of the Programming Committee was 26 but the ANC did not have a majority. Thirdly, the Table Staff looked at the composition of the Parliamentary Oversight Authority (POA) as a possible model for the Programming Committee. This provided for a total of 14 Members.
The Chairperson said that the first issue was the rule change as it was important for the Programming Committee to have some powers in terms of decision making. If the rule change was accepted, there were three options on the table as presented by the Table Staff. The first option of 37 was good but had the problem that it was going to be difficult for quorums to be reached. Clearly the option for 37 Members was not possible so realistically, only options 2 and 3 were possible. He invited comments from the members.
Mr Watson said that he had always argued against legislating for individuals or for exceptions and the only time when a problem was experienced was when there was the issue of a motion of no confidence. He was wondering if it was enough justification to change the Programming Committee from a consensus seeking body to a decision making body. He was not in support in the change of the rules as there was going to be the challenge of quorums.
Mr Sizani said that it was important to always seek consensus but this did not have to mean that the taking of decisions could be held ransom by the seeking of consensus. The ANC was supportive of the view that the majority must prevail so that the first attempt should be consensus and if that failed, the matter had to be put to the vote. If this was not done, decisions were never going to be taken.
The Chairperson said that there was acceptance that the rule had to be changed. What options were going to be taken?
The Deputy Speaker proposed that 37 and 23 could be cumbersome but 14 was also problematic if there were no alternates.
Mr Watson proposed that the POA model should be used.
The Deputy Speaker suggested 15 based on the POA model plus the Chief Whip of the IFP.
The Chairperson asked if agreement could be reached.
Mr Sizani said that the ANC wished for a postponement on the matter so that it could reach a final decision and revert to the Committee at a later stage.
The Chairperson agreed for a decision to be communicated at a later stage. He said that the final decision could be taken at the first meeting of the Rules Committee in 2014.
Adoption of Draft Committee Minutes
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that there were outstanding minutes to be adopted. He confirmed that there was a quorum and this could be proceeded with. The Committee adopted the draft minutes for 12, 19 and 20 of March 2013.
The meeting was adjourned.
Composition of Programme Committee (as appeared in ATC dated 22 August 2013)
Following the approval by the House today of rule amendments pertaining to the composition and decision-making of the Programme Committee, the Programme Committee will consist of 14 members in accordance with Rule 188 for the remainder of the 4th Parliament, as follows:
(1) Speaker of the National Assembly;
(2) Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly;
(3) House Chairpersons;
(4) Leader of Government Business or a designated representative;
(5) Chief Whip of the Majority Party;
(6) Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party;
(7) Programme Whip of the Majority Party;
(8) Chief Whip of the Opposition;
(9) Deputy Chief Whip of the Opposition;
(10) Chief Whip of the second largest opposition party; and
(11) two representatives elected by and representing the opposition
parties other than the largest and second largest opposition
parties in the National Assembly.
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.