The Chairperson opened the meeting saying the Task Team had made a great deal of progress, through the hard work and positive attitude of its members. Despite not all MPs being enthusiastic about the Rules of the National Assembly they were essential for the functioning of a democratic system.
The Programme Committee voting system was discussed. It was individual-based and differed from the multiparty system where votes were cast according to parties rather than individuals and weighted according to proportional representation. At the suggestion that it should be according to party vote, the comment was made that MPs as individuals had certain rights and a balance had to be found between the constitutionally assigned rights of MPs and the party-centric proportionality of the election system.
Rule 190(e) was discussed at length. It stated that the when Programme Committee “prioritises or postpones any government business in the Assembly it must act with the concurrence of the Leader of Government Business”. The need for cooperation between the Executive and Legislature was stressed though some commented that this merger was a seeming incompatibility with the separation of powers.
The Rules Committee would no longer have a Subcommittee on the National Assembly Budget nor a Subcommittee on Support for Assembly Members. One Member spoke up about the importance of the Subcommittee on the National Assembly Budget. Others expressed concern about the capacity of the Rules Committee as it had to deal with so many matters. It was noted that its many Subcommittees allowed it to act as a ‘super committee’. The point was made that the deletion of some of the Subcommittees of the National Assembly Rules Committee would have to be done in concurrence with the Joint Rules and NCOP Rules as the Subcommittees had to match those of the Joint Rules Committee and the NCOP Rules Committee.
The NCOP was brought up as a point of debate as many Members believed that it had transformed into a mere senate, an entirely different body from that envisioned by the Constitution.
The comment was made that the Standing Committee on the Auditor-General did pass its reports through the National Assembly but sent them directly to the Office of the Auditor-General. Members wondered how one could have a parliamentary committee that did not have to report to Parliament.
During the afternoon session, the consensus was there were too many parliamentary subcommittees. The appropriate lifespan of an Ad Hoc Committee was discussed and its revival if the National Assembly was not satisfied with its final Report.
It was pointed out that the inclusion of a dissenting minority report in an Ad Hoc Committee Report was not catered for in the Rules. In 251(3)(e), the Rules permitted National Assembly Committees to include a minority report in a Committee Report dealing with a Bill. Members agreed that including a minority report in the Committee Report was a good practice for the purposes of informing the National Assembly of the nature of the disagreement.
The role of the Chief Whips Forum was discussed. Through discussion, Members agreed that the structure was an important one and the Rules needed to formalise its functions and powers such as the effect of the recommendations it made as it was not perceived to be a decision-making body. The ANC Chief Whip would be invited to brief the Rules Committee on the direction in which the Forum was headed. It was also suggested that a 2007 workshop document on the function of the Chief Whips Forum be provided to the Review Committee. The powers of the House Chairperson (now enlarged to three chairpersons) had to be re-looked at because in some cases the House Chairperson functioned independently of the Speaker and made decisions without the Speaker’s approval, which was problematic.
The Chairperson began by noting his surprise at the amount of work that the team had accomplished and the positive attitude that Members had brought to the review. He noted the desire to speed up some of the process of the Task Team in order to complete work faster. Not all Members of Parliament were enthusiastic about the Rules of Parliament, but they failed to realize that the rules capture the essence of politics. Understanding these rules led one to becoming a successful and effective MP. But patience had to be applied when dealing with MPs who did not understand the significance of Rules as South Africa remained a new democracy. The Rules would not be appreciated unless they were applied and when they were applied they must act to negate the notion held by some MPs that Parliament was unjust. The purpose of the National Assembly Rules Review was to help identify problem areas and to defeat any prejudices in the Rules of Parliament. The intent was for the Task Team to have the reviewed rules ready for adoption by the following year, even during recess the team intended on adding to its programme to ensure they covered all aspects of this important function.
Programme Committee / Committee voting
Mr Kasper Hahndiek, Consultant and former Secretary to the National Assembly, noted that great points had been raised the previous day and he felt it was necessary to reiterate and reference some of them. He clarified that in many cases the Leader of Government Business and the Deputy Speaker rarely attend Programme Committee meetings and instead their office managers are sent, however their representatives do not have a vote.
Mr Mike Ellis, former Member of Parliament, asked for clarification on the Programme Committee voting system.
Mr K Hahndiek obliged and stated that there was a need to incorporate as many parties as possible in the system thus the best option was to make it a multiparty system and then vote via a proportional representation system. This meant that Members present would act as a whip for their parties and vote in accordance. The votes will be weighted to reflect the number of seats in Parliament, this created a justifiable dispensation.
The Chairperson stated that he thought that this was a revolutionary approach as it allowed all parties the space to participate. He elaborated that the strength of a party in voting remained in line with proportional representation throughout the five year electoral period, regardless of the number of bodies present at the votes.
Mr Ellis agreed that it was a good idea, but that they must further investigate it to ensure that it is well thought out because it could become a precedent for other parliamentary committees.
Mr Kamal Mansura, Advisor to Parliament and former Secretary to the National Assembly, noted that if this voting system spread to other Committees it might be considered an infringement on the individual rights of Members as it was very party-centric. The ANC would win every vote in this case, nevertheless it must be discussed.
The Chairperson noted that nobody would vote against party lines regardless of how much individual freedom they had. No member of the ANC would ever vote against the consensus unless the party lifted the whip.
Mr K Hahndiek went back to the point about setting a precedent for other committees. This would only be an option if the Members were working in their Committees in a non-individual capacity and instead as party representatives. A hybrid vote system was also an option. The Committee had always worked as one of consensus, but in cases where a clear consensus has not been reached, the issue should be put to a vote.
Ms J Kilian (COPE) expressed her concern over the potential loss of individuality. She believed that the proposed voting system would set a dangerous precedent and could violate the Constitution. MPs had certain rights and a balance had to be defined between the constitutionally assigned rights of MPs and for the proportionality of elections.
The Chairperson said that these rights would not be violated.
Ms Kilian then stated that the proposed new voting methods were exactly what they did not want in Parliament. They wanted to have full participation, but if Members in Committees were always forced to follow party protocol then the motivation to participate would dissipate.
Mr M Booi (ANC) stated that the ANC had been historically homogeneous and it was clear that people within the party were juggling for power. They had to be ready for change, and to allow people to exercise their democratic rights, without this the democracy would be a failure. He went on to say that the ANC should be proud of the scope of politics and political parties in the country as it shows the progress made since 1994. However, the ANC had to be cautious and begin to lose the social distance within the party as people were being left behind.
Ms Sybil Seaton, consultant and former IFP Member of Parliament, noted that not every party has a whip, especially the smaller parties. Senior Member should be the terminology used in order to include all parties.
Ms Kilian added that some of the smaller parties used their leaders as whips.
The Chairperson agreed that they needed to find a better way of wording this area.
Ms Kilian then brought up Rule 190(e) which stated that the Programme Committee must act in concurrence with the Leader of Government Business when their actions affect the Assembly. She saw this as a merger between the Executive and the Legislature, but in reality they needed to separate.
The Programme Committee —
190(e) may take decisions and issue directives and guidelines to prioritise or postpone any business of the Assembly, but when the Committee prioritises or postpones any government business in the Assembly it must act with the concurrence of the Leader of Government Business.
Mr K Hahndiek stated that South Africa was unique in that Parliament had taken control of administrative programmes. Usually it is the Executive who need to be thought of in regards to concurrence because Members were reliant on the relevant Member of the Executive being present when debating a bill or something of the sort. An emphasis on a sense of duty for the Ministers was very important. If Ministers were not available, they had the ability to give permission to the Assembly to continue in their absence.
Mr Booi stated that when they speak of concurrence it usually meant “waiting”. The word concurrent binds Members with the Executive.
The Chairperson said that Parliament is driven by the Executive and whenever there were delays, tensions were inevitable. The Executive should not frustrate the agenda of Parliament.
Mr Booi responded that he believed that the House Chairperson should be subject to the rules in order to be accountable, and that the Assembly must not live under the shadow of the Speaker.
Mr K Hahndiek continued with the changes proposed for the Rules Committee and stated that all references to dual functions had been removed. Rule 162 which dealt with the implementation of policy remained the same. He explained Rule 163 which listed those who were to be called upon for a meeting of the Committee during recess. Rules 166-171 had been deleted as the subcommittees listed were deemed unnecessary - these were: Subcommittee on the National Assembly Budget; Subcommittee on Support for Assembly Members.
Ms Kilian noted that other Committees had found their functions taken over by the POA, which had proven to a dysfunctional body. This situation had to be reviewed as many Committees were losing their powers and functions. She stated that the Rules Committee is the senior Committee and it was their responsibility to ensure that other Committees were structured to ensure that they meet the proper standards.
Ms S Kaylan (DA) asked if Rule 159 (Composition of the Rules Committee) could be tied in with Rule 163 (Policy matters requiring decision during recess) as there seemed to be a lack of consistency.
Mr Mansura stated that the Parliament should be involved in the decision-making process before the Executive makes any decisions on matters concerned with international affairs. He attempted to clarify Rule 163 by stating that the recess rule had rarely been applied, he guessed two times in 20 years.
Mr Booi expressed his concern over the capacity of the Rules Committee. He argued that the Rules Committee should focus on the implementation and development of the rules over time and avoid acting as a 'super committee'.
The Chairperson stated that the Subcommittees (Rules 166 – 186) were there to ensure that the Rules Committee only dealt with the core functions of Parliament and that they should not allow themselves to get backlogged with matters such as Members' affairs. The rules they were working on created accountability and forced MPs to answer the difficult questions rather than ignore them.
Mr Perran Hahndiek, Committee Secretary, stated that there was a conceptual division of work between the Rules Committee and the Administrative Committee [Parliamentary Oversight Authority (POA)], as the Rules Committee was responsible for the strategic direction of Parliament. The National Assembly was an institution and did not have its own organ solely devoted to its development.
Ms Seaton stated that since the Rules Committee was the senior committee, the functions of the POA came from it. Due to this, she felt as though it was important for these bodies to report back to the Rules Committee on a quarterly basis.
Ms Kaylan pointed out that the POA was a joint structure between the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the National Assembly. Why would it report to the Rules Committee when it was not a body of the NA alone? An oversight mechanism was lacking because of this.
Ms Kilian stated that they could not work on the rules and roles of the Rules Committee without looking at the unconstitutional structures of Parliament. She believed that unless they started to undo the wrongdoings of Parliament Committees they would get entangled in bigger bodies and the Joint Rules. The NCOP was not what it was intended to be and instead had become more comparable to a senate. She believed the NCOP was a high cost and useless duplicate of the NA as it had no checks and balances. The original functions of the NCOP listed in the Constitution must be adhered to in order to do it justice.
Mr Booi said Ms Kilian had raised a valid point, one that must be further explored. When the Constitution was adopted it was not with the intent of forming a senate. South Africans enjoyed their constitutional rights and they must respect this. He further expressed his concern with the state of affairs and the functions of Committees.
The Chairperson stated that the deletion of Rules 166-171 helped to better capture what the role of the Rules Committee was.
Mr K Hahndiek asked whether the problems noted by Members could be accounted for in the application of the Rules. It was the responsibility of the Rules Committee to raise such concerns with other Committees. Did the structure of the application of the Rules Committee have to be changed?
Ms Seaton noted that the input of Members is not at the levels it should be. The Rules Committee was bigger than the POA and more Members need to be present and informed.
Mr Booi noted that he had been in Parliament for 20 years and that throughout this time he found that MPs created a distance between themselves and information and did not stay informed. That was the life of Parliament - as it did not empower the individual. Parliamentarians must be addressed directly and informed of what was going on; the institution was not ready for the people who work for it.
The Chairperson noted that the committee structure was created for a specific purpose and a bigger problem was how the committees function and how they provided leadership for the institution they serve. There was a view held in Parliament that there were too many structures in the system, such as the committees. This perception needed to be changed.
Ms Kilian stated that she was comfortable with the elimination of some of the subcommittees, but was concerned about the dismantling of the Subcommittee on the NA Budget. As a Member of this Subcommittee the previous year, she felt it had helped her realise what was wrong with the relationship between the NA and the NCOP. The budget is the financial expression of policy and needed to be monitored precisely.
Ms Seaton asked if the POA was now dealing with the budget, if so they needed to report back more often.
Mr Ellis asked whether the NCOP had structures in place that were similar to the ones being disbanded in the NA. If so, did it intend on eliminating them from the NCOP Rules as well?
Mr K Hahndiek stated that the recognition of the Rules Committee as a senior body is very important and that decisions should first come from the Rules Committee and then be acted on by the POA.
Mr Mansura added that they had been aware of the need for a revision of the rules for years. Many of the Subcommittees that they were going to delete were still present in the Joint Rules and this would have to be addressed.
Mr Booi believed many new MPs were not following the Rules and some older Members were noticing. The Rules needed to be tightened in order to make the institution work.
Standing Committee on Finance
The Chairperson noted that the issues surrounding this area should not be brought forth until the Finance Standing Committee had been given the chance to submit their proposed changes.
Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA)
Mr P Hahndiek then spoke about the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), specifically Rule 205(1)(c) which used the term ‘investigation’. Normally a Committee did not work in terms of investigation as that power lay with the Auditor General.
It was noted that the Auditor General had been "difficult" in previous attempts to start investigations.
Ms Kilian thought that Parliament should have to pay for investigations into departments. If Parliament came to the decision that something needed to be investigated, based on the concerns raised by the relevant Committee, then the Auditor General must comply.
Ms Kalyan stated that there was the convention that the SCOPA Chairperson was a member of the opposition, should this be written into the rules? Concern was also raised in regards to Rule 208, which was the notice to portfolio committee by the Committee on Public Accounts, not having a time limit. Could one be given?
Mr Ellis stated that in some international examples, Parliaments do appoint people from the opposition as the head of such a Committee. But in South Africa the governing party picks which member of the opposition chairs the committee. He believed situations such as that could result in the issue becoming a political game.
The Chairperson perceived this statement as a jab at the ANC.
Standing Committee on the Auditor General
Mr K Hahndiek stated that this Committee took their decisions and reported directly to the relevant body, the Office of the Auditor General, without going through the House.
The Chairperson stated that this needed to be changed, how could they have a Committee of Parliament that doesn’t even report to it?
Ms Kilian asked if this was a standard size committee.
Mr P Hahndiek explained the makeup of the Committee as laid out in the Rules was that the Committee was to consist of 13 members or a number that was decided by the Auditor General with the concurrence of the Rules Committee.
The Chairperson continued and said the Committee had dealt with the rules pertaining to the Standing Committee on Auditor-General and Standing Committee on Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions. He said Special Petitions was a very important element and intervention by Parliament was necessary, however Members needed to agree on a way forward. He suggested that the Rules Committee make a special petition for dealing with Chapter 9 institutions.
The Chairperson commented that currently there were too many Chapter 9 institutions and the Committee needed to propose the establishment of one umbrella body. He suggested that the Committee needed to emphasise that no rule should be designed “because of chemistry between individuals”, because this caused serious problems and political fallout. As a result, Subcommittees were established, which in most cases duplicate the work and functions of existing structures. Each new task should be handed over to the relevant committee by the Rules Committee. Some of these Subcommittees needed to be combined to work together.
Ms S Kaylan (DA) said the “Kadar Asmal” Report on the Chapter 9 institutions provided some recommendations on how to deal with these Subcommittees. She asked whether these recommendations had been considered. None of its recommendations pertained to forming an umbrella body for all Chapter 9 institutions. However there was a recommendation that the Commission for Gender Equality should fall under the South African Human Rights Commission. The Rules Review Committee Report needed to come before Parliament before the end of the fourth session. All political parties had been asked to comment on the Report and there was agreement that the Report needed to come before Parliament for consideration.
The Chairperson agreed that it was unnecessary to set up so many committees who end up doing more or less the same work. There were Committees whose areas of function were overlapping, and these needed to be combined. The Rules Committee needed to apply its mind in terms of what it wanted to present to the Speaker.
Mr K Hahndiek, Consultant and former Secretary to the National Assembly, said a range of the issues which Chapter 9 institutions dealt with would ultimately be presented to the relevant parliamentary committees which had oversight of them. He said that according to the Kadar Asmal Report, a separate Committee needed to be established to deal with matters pertaining to the Human Rights Commission and the Gender Commission.
The Chairperson reiterated that there was a need for an all-encompassing Committee.
Ad Hoc Committees
The Chairperson said for Ad Hoc Committees, there needed to be a rule which set the lifespan for newly established Ad Hoc Committees. He proposed that an Ad Hoc Committee be given about six months to deal with an issue after which the Committee should be dissolved.
Mr K Hahndiek referred to Rule 214(6) which said that an Ad Hoc Committee ceased to exist when it had completed its task and had submitted a report; it could then be dissolved.
Mr P Hahndiek, Committee Secretary, agreed that an Ad Hoc Committee ceased to exist when it had presented its report to the House. The report might be referred back to the Committee, and this could take up more time than what was anticipated.
The Chairperson said the Rules Committee and the Speaker could possibly re-activate such Committees when the need arose. Due to extended work, such Committees could be resuscitated.
Ms S Seaton said that when the committee report was completed and the Committee shared the report with the House, then that covered the matter of the lifeline of the Committee.
Mr M Ellis said in some cases it would prove to be challenging to resuscitate the Committee and re-establishment seemed to be a better option to explore. When something was dead, it could not be resuscitated. He asked whether the Rules Committee wanted to bring in a rule which would make it possible to “bring the dead to life”.
The Chairperson said it was a difficult call. However because Members of Ad Hoc Committees are selected based on their expertise, when the report is not satisfactory to the House, these Members could be recalled and the Committee re-established.
Mr K Hahndiek said a clause could be added to the rule that the Speaker could re-establish or revive the Committee if the Ad Hoc Report is not satisfactory to the House.
The Chairperson agreed.
Ms Kaylan said the Ad Hoc Committee Report as it stood made no provision for minority parties to indicate their views. She recommended that a provision be included to enable the Ad Hoc Committee Report to contain a minority report.
Mr K Hahndiek said including a minority report in the Ad Hoc Committee Report was a necessary and good practice for purposes of informing the House. Lack of agreement within the Committee should be indicated to the House. The nature of disagreements needed to be highlighted as good practice.
The Chairperson said seeing that the matter had been suggested before; why was it rejected?
Mr Ellis said there was no rejection of minority reports; however currently there was no provision for minority views in the Ad Hoc Committee Report.
The Chairperson said the report presented to the House generally expressed the views of the majority Members, who in most cases were from the majority party. Majority rules and democracy cannot be undermined.
Mr M Booi (ANC) said whilst there was a majority view, the views of the minority needed to be taken into consideration. Disagreements about views would not necessarily be considered, but disagreements on policy needed to be indicated to the House. He added that some Members from minority parties were experts in certain fields such as economic development and their inputs would be quite valuable. Such good practice would benefit Parliament at large.
The Chairperson agreed that some of the suggestions made should be considered. He thought the declaration was meant to express the views of minority parties. Once a report was approved by the majority of the Committee, it became the report of the Committee.
Ms Zainab Naidoo, Procedural Officer: National Assembly, said, in terms of the legislative process, Rule 251 (Committee’s report) specified that the minority views were captured.
251(3)(e) ….must, if it is not a unanimous report —
(i) specify in which respects there was not consensus; and
(ii) in addition to the majority report, express any views of a minority in the committee;
Mr P Hahndiek agreed that all minority views should be reflected in all Committee Reports. This provision was the same one which applied to the process of dealing with Bills.
The Chairperson said the legislative process would be looked at; however democratic processes should be respected.
Mr Ellis asked whether the Rules Review Committee recorded minutes which would include all the broad decisions made during meetings. Members had a tendency of forgetting what had been initially agreed upon.
Mr P Hahndiek replied and said all the Review Committee meetings were being recorded in minute form and would be made available to all committee members.
The Chairperson said there should never be two separate reports emanating from one Committee. However budgeting and policy disagreements should be noted. He commented that Parliament was in a process of passing an Act which would make it mandatory for all political parties to have a 50/50 representation of men and women, especially in senior positions. Parliament would no longer be begging parties to empower women.
Chief Whips Forum
Ms Seaton commented the Chief Whips Forum was a very important structure; however it was not given the appropriate status. A while back a workshop had been held, which outlined the role and function of the Chief Whips Forum. She proposed that the Committee source the workshop document and present it to the Members of the Rules Committee.
The Chairperson said the Chief Whips Forum was a platform “where friends come together and meet for twenty minutes and then adjourn”.
Mr Ellis asked whether the Chairperson was being deliberately provocative.
The Chairperson replied that the Forum was there to coordinate apologies.
Mr Booi said the Forum was a very important structure in Parliament; the Speaker was second in command to the President of the country. The Forum was politically important structure. A joint whippery structure was of utter importance. Whips in the National Assembly should be allowed to engage on all political matters.
The Chairperson said the Chief Whips Forum was a political management structure, its functions were coordination and for consultation purposes. Politics - therefore - should not be regulated. The Forum coordinated the policies of Parliament.
Ms Seaton said she had sat on the Chief Whips Forum for 15 years and all the significant matters which had taken place in Parliament had emanated from that structure, such as the computerisation of Parliament and decorum. The parliamentary budget should be proposed initially from that structure. She reiterated that before the issue of the Chief Whips Forum was finalised, the workshop document needed to be sourced and looked at as it was a very important document.
Mr M Mansura, Advisor to Parliament agreed that the Chief Whips Forum was very important and like any other Committee, the Chairperson gave direction for the Forum. The ANC Chief Whip therefore had a great responsibility to give proper direction and to allow Members to discuss relevant matters. In 2011 another workshop was held on the matter, and all relevant documents needed to be sourced and presented to the Committee.
The Chairperson said unless the Forum had a clear function, irrelevant matters would be discussed on a daily basis. The Forum provided clear functionality to Parliament and when Parliament was in crisis, the Forum needed to be held accountable. He agreed that the Forum was a very important structure and should be given clear political guidelines, without micro-managing politics.
Ms K Hahndiek said part of the problem was that the Forum was meant to be a consultative structure, discussing and coordinating all relevant matters. However if agreement was reached, where would these be fed into? The Forum was not a decision-making structure and could not impose policy. Was the Forum being used as an alternative forum for decision making, seeing that existing structures where not very popular?
Ms Booi said the composition of the Chief Whips Forum was very important, and should be made up of only the senior Members from parliamentary committees. The Constitution was not very explicit on how to remove Members who were not working as they should.
The Chairperson said political management and processes should not be regulated. The main function of the Chief Whips Forum was to coordinate the work of Parliament.
Ms Kaylan agreed with the other Members that the Chief Whips Forum was a very important structure, however in recent months it has been fighting for its space and its budget. The new Chief Whip however was beginning to make some improvements in terms of sourcing what belonged to the Forum. She suggested that the Chief Whip of the ANC be asked to brief the Rules Committee on what was the exact agenda of the Forum; seeing that he was busy shaping it in a particular direction.
Ms Seaton asked if the Committee would continue deliberating on the Chief Whips Forum or whether the discussion would be halted until all the relevant documents were received and the ANC Chief Whip had briefed this committee on the work of the Forum.
The Chairperson referred Members to the Chief Whips Forum document which was prepared by Mr Anton Meyer, former Chief Parliamentary Law Advisor. Even though the Chief Whips Forum was not a decision-making structure, it was a structure which influenced other decision-making structures.
Mr P Hahndiek said all the function of Chief Whips were outlined in the 2005 Task Team Report of the Chief Whips Forum on the Roles and Duties of Whips. He asked if a rule could not be included which would give the Forum the power to make recommendations on certain policies and processes of Parliament.
The Chairperson said it was a good idea to allow the Forum to make recommendations to the House. The matter should be allowed to rest until all the documents were sourced and discussed. Relevant information could be found in these documents.
Mr Ellis said it was a concern that the decisions made in the Chief Whips Forum were not influencing decisions in Parliament.
The Chairperson agreed that the Chief Whips Forum should be empowered to influence decisions in Parliament. However politics could not be regulated.
Ms Seaton said the Chief Whips Forum had over the years taken decisions, and these recommendations have been put forward to the Speaker. Most of which had been successfully implemented over the years. The workshop document was from 2007 when the workshop took place over a period of two days.
The Chairperson said the rules needed to be very clear on how it approached the matter. The Committee would find the report and present it to Members.
Ms J Kilian (COPE) asked if the Committee Secretary could find out how each political party described the functions of the Chief Whips Forum. This would be useful to the Rules Committee as a matter of interest. Agreements on what the functions of the Forum were should be gathered from across all party lines. The functions of the Forum needed to be specified, without becoming too structural.
Mr Booi said delegating the Chief Whip function to an ANC NEC Member was a deliberate decision and should therefore be respected.
The Chairperson agreed.
Mr Mansura said the three ex Whips had proved to be very passionate about their work.
The Chairperson said the Rules Committee was important in setting some guidelines for the function of the Chief Whip.
Mr Masibulele Xaso, Undersecretary to the National Assembly, referred to Rule 203F dealing with public involvement (Public Involvement) by the Standing Committee on Finance and Rule 203M by the Standing Committee on Appropriations:
203F and 203M Public involvement
The committee must ensure public involvement in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, 2009.
He pointed out that there was no clear indication of how Committees should deal with public participation. The provisions for public participation were highlighted in the country’s Constitution for all parliamentary committees in Parliament. However the rule seemed to apply only to the Standing Committees on Finance and Appropriations. This rule needed to be applied to all Committees in Parliament.
Ms Kilian asked if Section 59 of the Constitution was the only reference to public involvement and public participation. More emphasis needed to be put on public participation. The National Assembly therefore needed to place more emphasis on facilitating public participation, even though oversight work was the fundamental work of holding the Executive accountable.
Ms Seaton said Section 57 dealt with public participation as well.
The Chairperson agreed that a rule for all Committees needed to be drawn up to encourage Committees to facilitate public participation.
Arrangement of House business and certain committee meetings / House Chairperson: Committees
Ms Seaton said if the Speaker is to get involved in the programming and the arrangement of functions in Parliament, this would be a very political function of the Speaker. It would not be wise to have the Speaker too involved in the programmes of Parliament. The Programme Committee needed to be the only one to take decisions on what would be before the House on a particular day.
Mr K Hahndiek said the Chief Whips Forum was not the only structure which could influence programmes of Parliament.
Ms Kilian said the Committee needed to protect the Speaker from the day-to-day fights within Parliament. The Speaker was the ceremonial head of Parliament and should not be dragged into matters of programmes of Parliament.
Ms Seaton said in-house fighting was a serious problem within Parliament.
The Chairperson agreed.
Ms Kaylan referred to Rule 223 (Unusual meetings of committees and subcommittees) and asked what function the House Chairperson played with regard to the programmes of Parliament.
Mr K Hahndiek said with certain permission, the Speaker could allow the House Chairperson to influence programmes and hold meetings outside of Parliament.
Ms Seaton said the 2007 workshop was an example because it was not held during the week and was held outside of Parliament, which meant that special permission had to be granted by the Speaker.
The Chairperson said the Chairpersons of Committees did not sign anything unless there was agreement among them to proceed.
Mr Booi said permission from the Speaker needed to be granted before such meetings took place.
Ms Kilian asked whether the matter did not belong to Programming.
Mr P Hahndiek said presiding officers, including the House Chairperson, needed to implement the decisions and guidelines set by the Rules Committee. The House Chairperson was designated by the Speaker and needed to implement all instructions from the Speaker.
Ms Kilian said the functions of the House Chairperson needed to be specified, without interfering with the Speaker’s designated functions. The Rule pertaining to this matter needed to be re-looked at, including the functions of the Committee of Chairpersons.
Ms Seaton said the Speaker was allowed to allocate various responsibilities and functions to his assistant presiding officers. The decision had been made to increase the support to the Speaker from two to three House Chairpersons. The assigned functions of these House Chairpersons needed to be re-looked at because in some cases the House Chairperson functioned independently of the Speaker and made decisions without the Speaker’s approval. This was a serious problem. Specific functions of these presiding officers [House Chairpersons] needed to be outlined and set out in the Rules.
Mr Booi said when a ruling was made these presiding officers made decisions on behalf of the Speaker and this was not acceptable, especially if these officers functioned outside the Speaker’s authority.
Ms Seaton said each presiding officer needed to take exclusive responsibility for the rulings given in the House.
Mr Xaso said Rule 224 (Scheduling function of the designated House Chairperson) needed to be re-looked at and relocated to the Committee of Chairpersons so that there can be a better understanding of the roles played by the House Chairpersons. He proposed that the rule be relocated.
The Chairperson agreed to the relocation of Rule 224. Some of the matters would be put aside and discussed at a later stage. The Rules Committee had done its level best. Chapter 10 on Questions would be discussed at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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