The Portfolio Committee on Transport decided not to approve the draft legacy report on the activities it had undertaken during the Fourth Parliament from 2009 to 2014. They felt that it lacked balance, focusing more on the challenges and omitting many of the achievements. As it was considered critically important that the report should provide the Committee’s successors with detailed and accurate information, the Committee decided it would reconvene on March 26 and 27 to debate, modify and finalise the report before it was passed to the National Assembly.
The meeting started with the adoption of Committee minutes, before proceeding to debating the draft legacy report. This was delayed, following complaints from Members that they had not yet received copies of the report. This led to criticism of the poor levels of service from the secretariat, and Members were allowed 25 minutes to study the document.
Members immediately pointed out omissions from the report. A number of petitions which had been dealt with by the Committee -- from the aviation industry, taxi drivers in North West, the Retail Automotive Aftermarket Federation (RAAF), the Southern African Bus Operators (SABO) and the Barloworld Owner-Driver scheme -- had been ignored. There was little information about transformation in the aviation industry. Gauteng was not the only province to have introduced an integrated transport service – the Western Cape had also done so. The report did not give detailed information on the mandate of each entity in the Department of Transport. The S’hamba Sonke programme had resulted from the Committee having identified the problem of uneven levels of road infrastructure in the country, but the report did not provide any background information on it. A timeframe for the implementation of the scholar transport policy needed to be established, as it had been in the pipeline for seven years.
The report had also failed to mention that the Committee had managed to successfully fill about 94% of the vacancy rate in the Department. There were numerous policies that the Department had implemented, which had been the direct result of Committee meetings. The whole issue of cooperatives -- which was the direction that the Department was taking – had been suggested by the Committee. The Committee had been saying that labour intensivity was the way to go in tackling the issue of unemployment.
Members agreed that extra time was needed to rewrite the report, as people reviewing the report in its present form would be displeased at the quality of work and the achievements of the Committee in the past five years.
Opening remarks by Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the Committee meeting and apologised for the late start to the meeting. She apologised for the absences of Mr I Ollis (DA) and Ms N Ngele (ANC), owing to illness. Ms D Pule (ANC) was running late, but would be joining the meeting shortly. The Committee meeting would focus on the legacy report covering its activities during the 4th Parliament (May 2009-March 2014). The purpose of the report was to familiarise Members of the 5th Parliament with the key outstanding issues pertaining to the oversight and legislative programme of the Department of Transport (DOT) and its entities. The meeting would start with adoption of minutes, followed by the Committee’s consideration and adoption of the draft legacy report.
Adoption of minutes
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of 18 February 2014 and requested the Committee to adopt them. Mr N Duma (ANC) moved their adoption, and Mr P Mbhele (COPE) seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of 4 March 2014, and requested Committee to adopt them. Ms R Motsepe (ANC) moved their adoption, and Mr Duma seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of 11 February 2014, and asked the Committee to adopt them. Mr L Suka (ANC) moved their adoption and Ms Motsepe seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of 26 of February 2014 and asked the Committee to adopt them.
Ms Duma moved their adoption and Ms D Pule (ANC) seconded. The minutes were adopted.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Members to now consider the legacy report, and said that the meeting would also focus on the additional recommendations submitted by Mr Ollis via e-mail.
Mr Mbhele said he felt disadvantaged, as he could not get a copy of the legacy report prior to the meeting. As a result, his party’s input would be limited. He asked why he had not received a copy.
The Chairperson responded that she was not in a position to answer that question. She was not responsible for distributing information, as she was not a part of the supporting staff.
Ms Pule said that Mr Mbele was raising an issue that should have been attended to, and added that since she had joined the Committee, there had been problems with administration and how the secretary handled matters of printing. She also had not received a copy of the legacy report.
Mr G Krumbock (DA) said that it was confusing that the issue of poor service from the supporting staff and the Committee secretary had not been resolved, despite the fact that Members had already submitted complaints over the past three weeks.
The Chairperson stated that she was pleased that Members were not looking at the issue of poor service from the Committee secretary and supporting staff as the responsibility of the Chairperson, but as to how it affected all the Members. This problem needed to be addressed in the legacy report so it could be resolved in the 5th Parliament. Since most of the Members had not gone through the legacy report, they should take about 25 minutes to go through it, followed by discussion.
Mr Suka expressed appreciation for the report of the ANC and the main legacy report. He suggested that on page 1 of the main legacy report, the staff and the Members should have reflected on the resounding success of the infrastructural development that was delivered during the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Referring to paragraph 3 on page 2, Mr Suka commented that there was little information on transformation in the aviation industry, as he had assumed that “there would be contention in terms of the control and the signage between the Department of Transport (DoT) and the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE)”. Although the Committee dealt with transport issues, some of its line functions were dealt with by the DPE. On page 14, the report said that from 2009/10 till 2013/14, no petitions were considered, while on page 21 it said that there were petitions that had been referred to, and considered by, the Committee. The statement on page 14 contradicted what was on page 21. The Committee had considered numerous petitions.
The Chairperson said before the Committee proceeded to other issues, the issue raised by Mr Suka should be dealt with first. She agreed with Mr Suka that there were indeed a number of petitions that had been referred to and considered by the Committee. These included petitions from the aviation industry, taxi drivers in North West who had complained about potholes, the Retail Automotive Aftermarket Federation (RAAF), the Southern African Bus Operators (SABO) and the Barloworld Owner-Driver scheme.
Ms Pule said that on page 5 of the report, there was no mention on when the DOT would address the issue of transformation in the aviation industry. Stipulating a timeframe for addressing the issue of transformation in the aviation industry would ensure that the Department was accountable. She was concerned that on pages 4 and 5 of the report by the ANC, there was no mention of the timeframe for the finalisation and implementation of sustainable rail transport policies.
Mr Duma agreed with Ms Pule, and suggested it was critically important to provide a timeframe for the finalisation and implementation of the policy. As Mr Ollis had said in his e-mail, the Department needed to finalise the scholar transport policy by December 2014. Mr Ollis had been very generous, as departments normally finalised their policies by the end of each financial year. He also expressed his dismay that it had taken the Department almost seven years to finalise the scholar transport policy.
Ms Pule said she appreciated that Mr Ollis was able to point out in the legacy report that Gauteng was not the only province that had attempted the integration of its transport service. He had correctly stated that this was not true, as the Western Cape government, together with the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (PRASA), was busy implementing an integrated ticketing system and interconnected MyCiti bus and train station intersections.
The Chairperson suggested that it was important to finalise the issue of the scholar transport policy, as there was a link between what the ANC and the DA was saying about the matter.
Mr Krumbock asked whether December 2014 would be a suitable deadline.
The Chairperson said that the timeframe for the finalisation and the implementation of the policy needed to be in relation to the financial year, as Mr Suka had said. She was concerned that if the policy was concluded after the mid-term expenditure framework, then it would be almost impossible to be implemented in 2015/16 financial year.
Ms Pule agreed with the Chairperson. However, she added that the DOT was already in the finalisation stage of the scholar transport policy, and it was just the question of the Committee pushing the Department to implement it.
The Chairperson disagreed with Ms Pule, and mentioned that the Department had not started with the scholar transport policy. She had said on the ANC report that the Committee Members had not even seen what was contained in the policy.
Mr Krumbock asked for an appropriate timeframe for the finalisation of the policy in order for it to be implemented in 2015/16 financial year.
The Chairperson responded that it needed to be finalised before the issue of the budget review recommendation report (BRRR), which also affected the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) happening annually in October.
Mr Krumbock asked whether the DA’s suggested timeframe of December 2014 needed to be changed to before the October MTEF.
The Chairperson said that was correct. She had noticed during the Committee engagement with the Department that there had been a lot of focus on the administration of the policy, while the Committee was more concerned about the safety of the learners. At the last meeting, the Department could not answer as to how long it normally took for the drafting of a policy. The scholar transport policy should not take longer than one financial year to implement.
Mr Krumbock said that he was still communicating with Mr Ollis over the cellphone on the proposed change to the December 2014 date. The Chairperson said she had no doubt Mr Ollis would agree with the proposed suggestion, as too much time had already been wasted in their attempt to finalise this policy.
Ms Pule emphasised that there was also a need for the Committee to give the Department a timeframe for addressing the issue of transformation in the aviation industry.
The Chairperson said she had a serious problem with the entire legacy report, as it seemed to focus mostly on challenges and problems encountered by the Committee, without mentioning any achievements. The report also did not give detailed information on the mandate of each entity. It was unfortunate that the author of the report was not present at the meeting. A legacy report needed to give detailed information on what had happened from May 2009 to March 2014. There was nothing wrong with reporting on what had not been achieved, but it was important to qualify and quantify both the achievements and challenges that had been identified. The S’hamba Sonke programme had resulted from the Committee having identified the problem of uneven levels of road infrastructure in the country, but the report did not provide any background information on it. She also raised concern over the fact the Committee was being served by a totally new secretariat.
Mr Mbhele also agreed that the report provided little information on what the Committee had achieved. The Committee had achieved a lot. S’hamba Sonke had been a policy programme that was introduced by the Committee. A person reading the presented legacy report would assume that the Committee had achieved nothing in the past five years.
The Chairperson added that the S’hamba Sonke road maintenance programme had been implemented due to poor road conditions observed in provinces like the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape.
Mr Suka suggested that there was need to rewrite the legacy report in a manner that would satisfy the Committee. He commended Mr Ollis for providing additional points that needed to be addressed in the legacy report. He agreed that Gauteng was not the only province that has attempted the integration of transport services, as Western Cape was also busy implementing its integrated transport system, although other provinces were still lagging behind. Mr Ollis was clearly agitated that the Scholar Transport Policy was still not implemented after more than seven years. He suggested that the Chairperson assist the Committee in the writing and finalisation of the legacy report. The report had also failed to mention that the Committee had managed to successfully fill about 94% of the vacancy rate in the Department. The Department also did not have a Chief Financial Advisor (CFO) previously -- a critical post -- but due to the oversight of the Committee, these challenges were identified and attended to. Unfortunately, these achievements were not mentioned in the report.
Ms Motsepe also supported Mr Suka’s proposal that there was a need to rewrite the legacy report in a balanced way, reflecting both the achievements and challenges faced by the Department. Mr Ollis had been correct to point it out that the Department needed to subsidise all modes of public transport, but not necessarily each individual passenger directly. The projects that the Committee had completed during the constituency period needed to be clearly reflected in the legacy report.
Mr Mbhele said that there were numerous policies that the Department had implemented, which had been the direct result of Committee meetings. The whole issue of cooperatives -- which was the direction that the Department was taking – had been suggested by the Committee. The Committee had been saying that labour intensivity was the way to go in tackling the issue of unemployment.
The Chairperson asked whether the Members wanted to rewrite the whole report, or approve some of the sections. She did not remember the Committee discussing the recapitalisation of the rail infrastructure, as reflected in the legacy report. The Committee had focused only on transformation of road transport, and the Members had agreed that rail was the backbone of South African transport, as it was cheaper and accessible to poor people. She added that the report also failed to reflect on the National Household Survey (NHS) on public transport, which clearly illustrated that the majority of the working class in South Africa was using rail as their mode of transport. The report also needed to elucidate further on why South Africa needed to introduce and expand high-speed rail. It was impossible to talk about recapitalisation of the rail infrastructure without mentioning economic development and the reduction of road fatalities. The Chairperson emphasised that there was a need for aligning all entities within the Department, to ensure that there were no conflicting views on policies.
Mr Suka repeated that there was no doubt that the Committee needed to rewrite the report in order for it to be balanced, and recommended that there was also a need to consider additional comments and recommendations by the DA and the Congress of the People (COPE). These issues were cogent and needed to be highlighted in the legacy report. He suggested that the Chairperson and the other Members who had started in the Committee since 2009, needed to assist each other in writing the final legacy report.
The Chairperson asked the Members on an appropriate time that could be set for producing a quality report, as it was critical for the quantification and qualification of the work done by the Committee to be reflected. She asked whether it needed to be finalised before 14 March, or whether the Members could come back for two days to debate, modify and finalise it.
Mr Suka suggested that a request should be made for the timeframe to be extended, as it would be impossible to produce a quality and balanced report before 14 March.
Mr Krumbock said that this was a big Committee and was costing taxpayers a lot of money, as Parliament was not cheap. The Committee should apply for an extra day to debate, modify and finalise the report, as he feared that the people reviewing the report in its present form would be displeased by the quality of the work and the achievements of the Committee in the past five years.
Mr Mbhele fully supported Mr Krumbock’s suggestion and repeated that there was a need to respect taxpayers’ money and use it effectively. There was no need to debate the PRASA report, as there was limited time.
The Chairperson agreed that there was no need to debate the PRASA report, as no controversial issues had been identified that could be added to the legacy report, unless there were issues that required a follow-up.
Mr Suka told the Committee that he would request an extension from the Principal.
The Chairperson suggested that Wednesday, 26 March, and Thursday, 27 March, were suitable dates for her.
Mr Mbhele agreed with this proposal.
Mr Krumbock said that he could not reach Mr Ollis to confirm his availability on the proposed dates, and could not commit without his approval.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee and commended their understanding that the common purpose of the Committee was to transform the lives of the ordinary people of South Africa. She thanked the DA for their energy in challenging and debating the issues and the entities of the Department over the past five years.
The report was not adopted, as it still needed to be debated, modified and finalised.
The meeting was adjourned.
- PC Transport: PC Transport: Committee Legacy Report & Outstanding Matters 1
- PC Transport: PC Transport: Committee Legacy Report & Outstanding Matters 2
- PC Transport: Adoption of minutes; Committee consideration and adoption of draft Committee Legacy Report 1
- PC Transport: Adoption of minutes; Committee consideration and adoption of draft Committee Legacy Report 2
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