Motion of No Confidence: A Parliamentary Legal Adviser briefed the Task Team on the Constitutional Court judgment in the Mazibuko v Sisulu and Another matter and its implications for Parliament. The Constitutional Court declared that "Chapter 12 of the Rules of the National Assembly is inconsistent with section 102(2) of the Constitution to the extent that it does not provide for a political party represented in, or a member of, the National Assembly to enforce the right to exercise the power to have a motion of no confidence in the President scheduled for a debate and voted upon in the National Assembly within a reasonable time, or at all".
The Task Team invited the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to speak about the Constitutional Court judgement about the vote of no confidence in Mazibuko v Sisulu and Another (CCT 115/12). He said the Court ruled that a Member had the ability to demand and get a motion of no confidence debated and voted on within a reasonable time. He said it was clear that this right could not be restricted. Only minor restrictions could be placed in the Rules such as it must be moved in writing, the notice must be given to the Speaker beforehand, motion should be initiated / raised only on motion days which was presently Tuesdays and Thursdays, a clear statement of the basis or reasons for the motion (whether they valid or not) and it must be scheduled and debated upon within a specific time frame. He commented that he was not in agreement with the majority judgment and had the impression that the Court did not understand the nature of Parliament and its proportional representative system.
The Task Team then discussed with the Deputy Minister the manner and procedure of a motion of no confidence and what minor limitations could be placed on it to prevent it from being abused for political reasons.
Chapter 13: Thereafter the Task Team continued deliberating on Rules 286 to 300.
Adv Gary Rhoda, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, circulated the summary of the Constitutional Court judgment in the Mazibuko v Sisulu and Another matter and briefed the Task Team on it and its implications for Parliament. Adv Gary Rhoda, one of the Parliamentary Legal Advisers, circulated the summary of the Judgment given on the 27 August 2013. The parties involved were Lindiwe Mazibuko, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly vs Maxwell Vuyisile Sisulu MP, Speaker of the National Assembly (First Respondent) and Dr Mathole Serofo Motshekga , MP, Chief Whip of the ANC (Second Respondent). The dispute was on whether the Speaker had the power to schedule the motion of no confidence or not. Five applications were filed to the court and they were: the leave to appeal directly to the Constitutional Court against the decision of the Western Cape High Court; the leave for direct access to this Court for a declaratory order that the rules are inconsistent with the Constitution; a court appeal brought in terms of section 167(4)(d) of the Constitution of the failing to schedule the motion of no confidence because the Parliament failed its constitutional obligation by omitting to provide a rule which specifically deals with this express constitutional provision; the leave to cross-appeal against the costs order of the High Court; the leave to cross-appeal the costs order of the High Court and against the two findings of the High Court.
The second application (the leave for direct access to this Court for a declaratory order that the rules are inconsistent with the Constitution) was of utmost importance to the Team and to the deliberations of this meeting because it dealt with the Rules. He noted that the requested declaratory order was that the rules were inconsistent with the Constitution. This matter had been debated in the National Assembly.
The Court ruled that the Constitution required the National Assembly to provide the procedure that allowed members to deliberate and vote on a motion of no confidence in the President and that the rules must specifically allow such vote to take place. In essence, the Court did not say that the vote of no confidence must take priority over every other business of the National Assembly. It is declared that Chapter 12 of the Rules of the National Assembly is inconsistent with section 102(2) of the Constitution to the extent that it does not provide for a political party represented in, or a member of, the National Assembly to enforce the right to exercise the power to have a motion of no confidence in the President scheduled for a debate and voted upon in the National Assembly within a reasonable time, or at all.
The Constitutional Court also agreed with the High Court’s decision that the entitlement to move the motion of no confidence could not be left to the majority or minority. The Court said that any lacuna in the rules could be a major deterrent against the exercise of deliberate democracy and that the rules did not provide the necessary deadlock-breaking mechanism to ensure what should occur when an impasse occurred in this regard.
Mr John Jeffery, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, said he was not in agreement with the majority judgment and he had the impression that the Court did not understand the nature of our Parliament and its proportional representation system. He referred to paragraphs 66 and 72 of the Judgment. His analysis was that before the judgment, there was general consensus that a Member should not have the unrestricted ability to demand and get a vote of no confidence debated and voted on. Unfortunately, the court ruled against that and agreed that a Member can. Therefore, the issue of a first and second motion of no confidence was now academic and irrelevant. Moreover, the court ruled that it was unnecessary to take it to the High Court but it was sufficient that it must take priority and be included within the programme of Parliament and must be voted on within a reasonable time. The court ruled that Chapter 12 of the Rules was inconsistent with the Constitution. “Unhindered access” means that an individual could raise a motion of no confidence which meant that a one-person party could raise a motion of no confidence every day of the week. He thought the Rules could put in a limitation that it cannot be done every day or provide for a particular day in the week for tabling in the House. Maybe there could even be a restriction about tabling close to the end of a term as this could lead to abuse. One could put on restrictions about tabling once a week or notifying the Speaker beforehand that a vote of no confidence would be raised. However, one cannot restrict that the motion has to be supported by more than one Member. What was bizarre was that if one wants to call for a division in the House, one has to have a minimum number of Members to call that division but according to the Judgment one only needs one Member to insist on a motion of no confidence. However, the Rules can describe the manner of how the motion gets tabled.
Mr Perran Hahndiek, Committee Secretary, informed Members of his inclusion in the set of documents given to them of a document submitted with the affidavit by the Speaker of some proposals or rules that the Speaker considered to be the outcome of some political negotiations which took place prior to the Court ruling. The Secretary said he thought these rules were not in contradiction with the Constitution. He added that the rules did not place a restriction on Members introducing a vote of no confidence on the President, however, it placed a restriction on raising the same motion twice.
Mr Kasper Hahndiek, former Secretary to the National Assembly and consultant, reminded the Task Team that a number of decisions had been made already on other rules which dealt with the problems identified with regards to the vote of no confidence. These include rules surrounding Programme Committee decision making, amendments to motions are permissible, the sequence in which amendments and the main motion are put at the end of a no confidence motion so the Speaker has the discretion to put the amendments or the main motion first so that allows an opportunity for the Speaker to allow the party that initiated that motion to first vote on the motion before they go to amendments, if amendments are put in late in the debate the Speaker may extend the time for the debate. So it only leaves a few issues outstanding on the motion of no confidence and these are how often and whether any kind of management is put in place to avoid a scenario which Mr Jeffery sketched which in the world of politics is a real issue. When circumstances are such that a party or parties want to prevent the National Assembly from conducting its work and prevent a particular issue on the Order Paper from happening, they can come with a sequence of motions of no confidence on a daily basis and according to the judgement these must be dealt with as a priority. The Rules are being drafted with posterity in mind, regardless of the party or time, and one should aim as far as possible and as far as the court order allows, to protect the institution and its function in terms of the Constitution.
The Chairperson chipped in that in raising motions, some restrictions must be established so that the institution should be protected and was not abused.
Mr Jeffrey referred to the first point on the document "Affidavit To The Constitutional Court", which says: “A Member may propose a motion of no confidence in the President or the Cabinet in terms of section 102 of the Constitution for approval as a resolution of the House and must state the grounds for the motion”. He said it would be legitimate to set up a procedure for tabling a motion of no confidence. Restrictions such as giving a notice to the Speaker before the motion was raised, the motion to be raised only on motion days which was presently Tuesdays and Thursdays should be initiated, the basis or reasons for the motion clearly set out (whether the reasons are valid or not) and must be scheduled and debated upon within a specific time frame. Therefore, motions of no confidence in the President cannot be moved daily. The rules must therefore prescribe what must be in the motion and how it must be tabled. With regards to the second point, he was of the opinion that it did not matter whether the scheduling was by the Speaker or the Programme Committee, it just had to be done. In addition, it was appropriate for the Speaker to make all the necessary consultations before the scheduling was decided. However, if the scheduling was done by the Programme Committee, there was no need for consultations. On the 3rd point, he proposed that “no later than twenty parliamentary working days” should be deleted because the ruling of the Court was that it must be accorded the “priority over other motions of business and must be scheduled, debated and voted on within a reasonable time given the programme of the Parliament” and because it would limit the judgment. Therefore the two issues were: how to table the motion of no confidence of which the Court did not proffer a solution to and secondly, the issue of rescheduling which he proposed should be carried out by the Programme Committee. The 4th point was in conflict with the judgment. The 5th point was necessary. The 6th point was also in conflict with the judgment because it was a way of restricting the vote of no confidence. The 7th point was not necessary.
Ms D Schafer (DA) supported the summation of Mr Jeffrey, she however wanted to know how “reasonable time” would not run into a year if the “twenty parliamentary working days was removed”? She felt that Mr Jeffrey was contradicting himself with regards to the restrictions because on one hand he said that Members cannot limit the number of motions, then on the other hand, Members can place restrictions on the motion of no confidence. What was the purpose of giving reasons for tabling the vote of no confidence.
Mr J Jeffrey replied that his basis for saying that the second motion could not be prevented was "Chapter 12 of the Rules is inconsistent with section 102(2) of the Constitution to the extent that it fails to make provision for an unhindered exercise by a member of the Assembly, acting alone or in concert with other members, of the right to have the Assembly schedule, deliberate and vote on a motion of no confidence in the President". However, giving reasons was supported by the statement in paragraph 66 of the Judgement: “sponsored in a manner prescribed by the Rules” which allow one to prescribe the manner in which a motion is done.
The Chairperson described a real life scenario and wanted to know whether it was possible for a Member merely to stand up and raise a motion of no confidence? He stressed that politics must not be played with these issues. They must be carefully and thoroughly sorted out otherwise it may cause harm to the integrity of the Constitution.
Mr Jeffrey clarified that the Court ruled that the motion of no confidence must be treated as a priority, but did not necessarily mean that the House should drop every other matter before it and concentrate on the vote of no confidence. It means if, for example, a motion of no confidence was raised at the State of the Nation, it would be legitimate to postpone the motion until the subsequent week. That was what the Court meant by “within a reasonable time given the programme of the Assembly”. It was also not proper for Parliament to be called back from recess because of a motion of no confidence, which was what the Court meant by “given the programme of the Assembly”.
The Chairperson emphasized that these salient issues must be agreed upon. Too stringent measures must not be introduced as this may disallow the effective functioning of Parliament. We should not cause unnecessary problems such as the parties coming up against each other and taking themselves to court. We should not end up with the Court drafting the rules or the procedure of the vote of no confidence for Parliament.
Ms Schafer proposed that a particular day be picked to table a vote of no confidence. She believed that this would clarify a few issues.
Ms S Kalyan (DA) wanted to know whether what Mr Jeffrey was proposing was a “substantive rule”.
Mr Jeffrey agreed that it was partially a substantive rule but he was proposing it so as to put a restriction from a “back door”. It also was not a substantive rule because it did not give the power to rule. His intention was to create ways of stopping trivialities so that the vote of no confidence was not raised on weekly basis.
The Chairperson said the Court had given a free hand to the Task Team to design the rules since we are aware of the workings of the Parliament.
Ms J Kilian (COPE) differentiated between the motions in Sections 89 and 102 in the Constitution, saying it was appropriate to state the grounds for raising a motion of no confidence but restrictions should not be introduced as this would limit the rights of Members. There should only be restrictions of time. She reminded the Task Team that when they took the matter to the Constitutional Court, the Programme Committee had been different. The rules had changed. Previously, matters were not decided by majority vote but by consensus. Now the Programme Committee could take a majority decision. She warned that restrictions could be placed on the motion of no confidence if they made the Programme Committee responsible for motions of no confidence as the majority now ruled. The Members should be mindful of placing new restrictions that were not warranted. It was true that in judicial matters, it was probably clear what could be considered a “reasonable time”, however, it would be best to clarify and define what was considered as “reasonable time” so that everyone was aware of this. Furthermore, why was there a need to deviate from “Rule 98” on the issue of notice? She emphasized that there was a need to be careful not to play politics while undermining of people’s rights. There were other ways in which trivialities or political games such as stalling the work of the National Assembly could be curbed without restricting people’s rights - one could just not be present for the motion of no confidence.
Mr Kasper Hahndiek clarified that with regards to restrictions on motions, there were existing restrictions such as not using un-parliamentary language and that the stated grounds should be related to that which government is responsible for. He thought everyone would agree to these not being replaced. On the matter of the motion of confidence interfering with the State of the Nation Address (SONA), he said that introducing the motion would have the effect of limiting the debate of no confidence that was scheduled for the week subsequent to the SONA. A vote of no confidence was used by many parliaments to commence its annual session. The leader of the opposition would stand up to declare that they no longer had confidence in the president. This was a mechanism put in place to ascertain whether the government had a majority support for the coming year.
Mr Jeffrey proposed that options should be presented for additional requirements such as: it must be moved in writing and the notice must be given to the Speaker beforehand. The issue of whether it would be the Speaker or the Programme Committee that would schedule it must be clarified. It was true that the Programme Committee cannot make majority decisions, however the Court complained that the majority or minority party were not decisive enough to determine if a motion would not debated upon or not. The Court however finalised that the motion would be debated. He disagreed with Ms Kilian on defining “reasonable” because reasonable time was dependent on the situation in the House at that time. It was therefore difficult to define what a reasonable time was. The issue of the time gets decided on by the Programme Committee.
Mr P Hahndiek explained that sometimes there may be more than one debate on the same grounds in subsequent weeks, therefore one of the benefits of stating the grounds for raising a vote of no confidence was that it assisted the Programme Committee in allocating time to each debate and so accommodate other outstanding debates since there may be many pending motions.
Mr G Rhoda agreed with Mr P Hahndiek on the benefit of stating the grounds for the debate and added that in his own opinion, time and schedule were not a limitation.
The Chairperson concluded this part of the meeting by telling Legal Services that the issues raised
should be ironed out and a written proposal submitted on 14 November which would be the date of the next
Task Team meeting. All the rules drafted in the proposal must be simple, straightforward
and uncomplicated. The rules must signify purpose, meaning, relevance and clarity. The issue of
stating the grounds for a motion and the motion days must be included. He emphasized that these issues
were crucial because this motion was so important and had the capacity of collapsing a Government.
Mr K Hahndiek corroborated this. One of the other ways in which Members could express a vote of no confidence in a Government was to vote down a budget or a major policy of Government. This action would depict a lack of confidence in that Government.
Ms Schafer inquired whether it was possible for Legal Services to send to Team Members a copy
of the proposal options before the next meeting. The Chairperson agreed.
Review of Chapter 13: Legislative Process - continued
Adv Charmaine van der Merwe, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, continued to take the Task Team through the Constitutional and Legal Services Office (CLSO) proposals for changes to Chapter 13 (see document):
Rule 286 Introduction of money bills
Adv van der Merwe referred to the last sentence on the second point: “the Minister must consult the Speaker when exercising a choice in terms of this rule”. Was the consultation so that the Minister could be aware or what exactly did the sentence mean? Was this a condition?
Mr K Hahndiek replied that according to Section 75, there were different kinds of bills and procedures to follow, however, with regards to money bill, the Minister must consult with the Speaker on which process to follow.
Rule 287 Procedure applicable to money bills
Adv van der Merwe stated that the “Note” to this Rule had been deleted.
Rule 288 Special introductory procedure
Adv van der Merwe referred the Members back to Rule 285 Persons in charge of money bills and pointed out that it was unclear what 288(2) meant: “After having delivered the introductory speech, the Minister must introduce the bill by tabling it and any accompanying schedule and papers in the Assembly: Provided that if the introductory speech was delivered by a Minister other than the Minister of Finance, that other Minister must introduce and table the bill on behalf of the Minister of Finance.” Was this possible? Would it not be contradictory to the money bills requirement? Can another Minister be in charge of money bills?
Ms Kilian replied that according to the Constitution, it was only the Minister of Finance that was in charge of money bills, so the rule was unconstitutional.
Mr K Hahndiek wanted to know whether the Minister of Finance could authorize another Minister to act on his behalf in this regard. Would it be unconstitutional? On the other hand, can the President appoint an Acting Minster of Finance to act on the Minister’s behalf if he was not around?
Ms Kilian said that the Minister of Finance had a deputy that could act on his behalf. She added that all bills that levy financial burden on the public could be referred to as a money bill. Therefore utmost caution must be taken so as not to include in the rule items that were unconstitutional.
Mr M Booi (ANC) pointed out that it was crucial to make decisions that would be good for both Parliament and the public. The Minister must take full responsibility for his duties and had no reason not to be available when duty called.
The Chairperson commented that sometimes there were unforeseen circumstances that may disallow the
Minister of Finance from being available, rules should therefore be made with these unforeseen events in mind. He emphasized that rules were written to live longer than the initiators, posterity should therefore refer to the rules with the mind that the writers did a good job. Rules should be written such that they protect the institution that had been built.
Mr K Hahndiek replied that the concerns of both the Chairperson and Mr Booi could be accommodated by
either postponing the introduction of the budget until the Minister was available or the President could quickly appoint an Acting Minster to act.
Ms Kilian reminded the team that the relevant section for money bills was Section 77.
Rule 289 Bill placed on Order Paper for First Reading
Mr K Hahndiek enlightened the team that the First Reading of the money bills took a different process than the First Reading of other bills. For the money bill, the debate followed a week after the First Reading while for other bills, it was not so.
Rule 290 Referral of bill to Assembly committee
Rule 291 Consideration of schedule to appropriation bill
Rule 292 Supplementary estimates in main appropriation bill
Rule 293 Approval of votes and schedule
Rule 294 Second Reading of money bill
Rule 295 Money bills rejected or passed subject to amendments by Council
Adv van der Merwe pointed to the “Note” on 290(3). Was seven consecutive working days sufficient to consider a bill?
Mr P Hahndiek noted that in the interim, these rules were invalid because the Act that was supplemented by these rules was currently being reviewed and amended by the Standing Committee on Finance and as such these rules would have to be rewritten after the amendment of the Act.
Adv van der Merwe proposed that these specific rules be suspended until the finalization of the Act.
Ms Sybil Seaton, a former Member of the Parliament, queried Adv van der Merwe proposal. She wanted to know what then would happen in the meantime.
Mr P Hahndiek replied that the rewriting of the rules would have to wait for the amendment of the Act.
Mr K Hahndiek said that it was important to note that as the Bill had been given to the Finance Standing Committee and it was simultaneously referred to the Portfolio Committee so that they could begin to engage on it whilst the Finance Standing Committee deliberated on it on broader terms.
Adv van der Merwe said that she would consult with another Legal Advisor who was designated to work with the Finance Committee. He might be able to give her the proposal options.
Part 10: General
Rule 296 Second vote on bills rejected through absence of members
Mr P Hahndiek said that the rule was an interesting one and wanted to have the rule explained.
Mr K Hahndiek confessed that he was uncomfortable with this rule when it was adopted. Essentially, the rule meant that if a bill was brought before the House but the majority was absent, then the bill would be rejected or suspended. However, after seven working days, the bill would be presented again to the House and if the majority party Members were still unavailable and a majority was not reached, then the bill would be rejected.
The Chairperson asked the Team Members whether the rule should be retained, amended or rejected.
Ms Seaton suggested the rule be retained
Mr P Hahndiek wanted to know how this special majority was different from the quorum that must be reached before other bills were either accepted or rejected?
Mr K Hahndiek replied that this issue was different. This was not a quorum. In this case, a 2/3 majority must be reached or the bill was rejected.
Mr Booi expressed his disapproval of the rule because it could give power to the ruling party as against others. He was also not comfortable with the clause “but only if the Chief Whip and the most senior whip of one or more parties which together with the majority party command at least the required majority in the Assembly”. He envisaged that another debate of who was the most senior whip would ensue. He insisted that it was not a healthy rule.
Ms Seaton on the other hand expressed her approval of the rule. She felt it was an opportunity for the majority party to have a second bite at the apple. It was another opportunity for the bill to be accepted.
The Chairperson wanted to know what the decision of the team was. Was it to accept, reject or amend the rule? In his opinion, he felt that there was no harm in retaining the rule.
Mr P Hahndiek asked what the difference was between the special majority and the normal quorum? There was also a rule that said that in the absence of a quorum, the Chairperson was free to postpone decisions or questions. To what extent could a Chairperson decide this at the absence of a quorum.
Mr K Hahndiek replied that a Chairperson could only postpone a bill beforehand not after the bill had been raised and the process initiated.
Adv van der Merwe said that she did not see anything constitutionally wrong with the rule; it was just a matter of the democratically constituted Assembly making a final decision.
Ms Seaton reiterated that since the second bite at the apple was a second opportunity given to the majority to vote and accept a bill, parties must therefore ensure that their Members were present. However, a second bite should not be encouraged if there was a political dimension attached to the bill. If the bill was opposed by the opposition, then the political issue becomes more important than the procedural issue.
Mr Booi insisted that these issues must be balanced. These issues dealt with Parliament as an institution that wanted to maintain democracy. Does this rule maintain the tenets of democracy? The rule was more concerned about the majority party as against the other attendants of Parliament. Why should a majority ruling party not be in the House when it was raising important bills? Any majority party that found its Members were unavailable did not deserve another bite at the apple.
Mr Michael Ellis, consultant and former DA Member of Parliament, corroborated and said that since the reason for rewriting the Rules was to establish discipline in Parliament and this clause negates this, he suggested that the rule be dropped.
The Chairperson said that Rules were made to enforce discipline. There would be no political damage done if this rule was set aside until a later date. It was true that some of the bigger parties may contest or reject the proposition; however the Team must motivate to prove why this rule should not be retained.
Rule 297 Same bill may not be introduced more than once
Adv van der Merwe proposed an amendment to the rule by introducing a second point which reads: “ A bill dealing with substantially the same matter may not be introduced more than once in the same annual session: Provided that……” She said that the second point was broader than the initial rule (first point), however the later had stricter measures. The question then was whether it was necessary to accept the second point or just retain the first point only?
Ms Kilian wanted to know the reason for introducing the rule initially. Was it constitutional to limit the rights of the people.
Mr P Hahndiek asked whether the rule was constitutional in nature. Who decides whether a bill had the same substance with another bill thereby limiting a Member from instituting a vote?
Mr Booi emphasized that the rule had huge implication for Government. The Speaker’s powers must not be undermined. Every decision made in Parliament must end in front of the Speaker.
Mr K Hahndiek replied that the rule was made to ensure that the Parliament could control its business by making possible use of the time allocated to it. The rule says that the House must make the best use of its time and must not keep applying itself over and over again on the same bill because of its controversial nature. Democratic rule must be respected and the opposition must accept the decision made by the House. The rule also states that no whip’s arrangement could override the decision of the Parliament.
Ms G Abdullatief, Committee Section Unit Manager- Education and Recreation Cluster, asked what the purpose and implication of the rule was.
Mr Booi wanted to know what processes were followed in creating a bill? He added that there must be caution in raising rules that allow for sloppiness and clumsiness. Individuals must not be allowed to rise and have more powers than Parliament.
Mr P Hahndiek felt that it was best to regulate the rule by saying that the motion on the same bill would not be introduced in the same session.
Mr K Hahndiek responded that as long as there was a decision that had not been taken on a Member’s bill, then an executive bill could be reintroduced. The Parliament could asses a bill to determine which one had the best chance of success; this would then assist in prioritizing the bill. The proposal for a Draft Resolution had a bigger impact so this would be prioritized.
Mr P Hahndiek then asked: which one would be dropped 297(1) or 297(2).
The Chairperson wondered what the implication was of removing it completely and said that but that there was no harm in retaining 297(1).
The Task Team agreed with the Chairperson.
Rule 298 Lapsing of bills on last sitting day of annual session or term of Assembly or when Assembly is dissolved
Ms Kilian queried the rule. She felt it might be in conflict with Rule 316.
Mr K Hahndiek replied that Rule 316 dealt with Other Business whilst 298 dealt with bills. However, it might be useful to have a cross-reference at 316 that states that 298 should be referred to in the case of bills.
Rule 299 Withdrawal of bill
Mr K Hahndiek said that sometimes there was an arrangement by the Committee to hand a bill back to the Executive but this was not appropriate. Withdrawal of a bill was the only way to remove a bill from Parliament unless an alternative bill was presented. Constitutionally, the extent of the legislative powers of Parliament allowed it to pass, amend or reject a bill. It could not do otherwise. When a bill becomes a source of political embarrassment to Parliament because it did not proceed as a result of the inaction of the Executive, a Minister could use his prerogative to destroy the bill. The Committee could then write a report to the House suggesting reasons why the Minister must withdraw the bill.
Mr Booi reiterated that the Speaker of the House was the final deciding factor and all decisions should rest on his table. The image of the Parliament was even enhanced by some of these so-called negligible issues.
Mr K Hahndiek wanted clarification as to whether Mr Booi was suggesting that the House should take a decision or the Speaker should.
Mr Booi replied that since the House was convened by the Speaker, decisions must not be taken without his knowledge.
The Chairperson added that the Committee could not quietly take a decision without the House having a say. The rule must be clarified in such a way that a Minister could not secretly go to the Committee and suggest the removal of a bill that was causing embarrassment. The interests of Parliament was more important than the interests of individual parties.
Rule 300 Discrepancies in versions of bill
Mr K Hahndiek explained the rule that it had to do with translation of bills. The 1st version of the bill was in the official languages whilst the second version was in the translated version. If the translation was not 100% accurate, there would be discrepancies.
Mr P Hahndiek asked whether accepting the proposal of the joint rules could make the rule obsolete.
Adv van der Merwe responded that she had no idea whether the joint rule had been accepted or not.
Mr K Hahndiek informed the Team that recently the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Fatima Chohan set out some new range of proposals on the language of bills. He felt that these proposals must be revisited and clarified. He added that the provision in the joint rules was that a bill would not get a second reading unless the second version of it was available and there had been cases where a bill had been delayed because the official translation was not available.
Ms Zainab Naidoo, the Team’s Adviser, referred to the unpleasant situation that occurred the previous day where instead of a motion being raised, confusion was set up. She asked whether a rule could be suspended when the motion would no longer be raised.
The Chairperson said that care must be taken so that rules were not simply suspended because it was inconvenient.
Mr K Hahndiek replied that the issue was covered by the Draft Amendment Rule which says that Members must be given the opportunity on each sitting day of the House to give notice of the motion unless the Programme Committee agrees otherwise irrespective of the particular day.
The Chairperson said that the work done by the Task Team for the past 6months to 1year now would be submitted to the Subcommittee. The Team would draw up a 3year procedure and process that would take the Team to its ultimate aim which was for the Parliament to adopt the rules. By the time the Parliament would be, these rules should have been passed. It was expedient for parties’ interest to resolve some of the typical questions. The possibility of plenary should be raised. Outstanding issues on the motion to the presidency should be sorted out. He emphasized that it was true that a free rein had been given to the team to be creative but utmost care must be taken so that through overzealousness, the real basics of what must be done was not lost. We must apply our minds effectively so that we do not lose more than a year’s work because of a clause.
Ms Kilian reminded the team that Parliament would be meeting for 4weeks to end on the 13th of March, and this was the last day for adoption of the rules. She added that the institution could only be positively influenced if the rules were adopted and implemented.
Ms Sybil suggested that Johnny de Lange, the Chairperson of the Subcommittee, be informed so that he could call together the Subcommittee for a week in June and finalize the rules. The final Committee could then be submitted to in February.
Mr Ellis voiced his concerns about the proposals submitted by the political parties. He felt that adequate attention was not given to the proposals.
Ms Kilian proposed that feedback should be received from parties before the end of the year or at the most the 13th of January so that adequate time was given to finalize the rules.
Ms Sybil added that the issue of withdrawing bills must also be adjusted therefore the Rules Committee must be persuaded to meet before finalization.
Mr P Hahndiek said that since the Subcommittee would convene in January, they would commence with the parties’ inputs and submissions. He said that the Speaker was keen about these process therefore with his support, the rules should be finalized soon.
The Chairperson conclusively said that after next week’s meeting, the proposal would be finalized and sent to the parties to either accept or reject. The parties must be given a deadline for submission. He added that it was true that many Members were not interested in the rules; however, they must taken through so that it would be a consensus decision. He said that care should be taken so as not to be too conservative in putting points forward because of fear of being terminated. All skills would be harnessed to bring out the best.
Mr Ellis commended the Chairperson and all those involved in drafting the proposal.
The Chairperson thanked all in attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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