The Committee Members met to finalise the Legacy Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, which had first been presented on the 27th of February 2014. At the previous meeting the Chairpersons had asked the Members to submit written proposals on the restructuring and content of the Report. However no Members had done so. As a result, the Committee proposed minor changes to the Report as it stood and it was adopted subject to amendments. A Member of the Democratic Alliance noted an objection to the Report.
The Co-Chairperson, Mr S Montsitsi (ANC) opened the meeting by saying the Committee was aware of the quorum issues it faced. As a result, the Rules Committee had given the Committee a reduced quorum of 13 members, with the full complement being 25. Turning to the Legacy Report, he said the Committee was to present amendments to the report and following this the Report will be presented for adoption. A number of issues were flagged, because it did not reflect the activities of the Committee because they were presented as too generalised; without having changed the format of the Report.
Mr S Esau (DA) wanted to note that some agenda items had been left off of the first page of the report, specifically the MOU regarding the military veterans’ benefits and the issue of transformation in the 2013/14 year. On page 3, bullet five, point three the word leader was misspelt and wished to add the requirement that the speaker and chair are to inform members timeously of letters of deployment from the President. On page 6 he said that the table does not accurately reflect the jurisdiction of the Committee, because there is an overlap with the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans; specifically regarding the legislation and matters dealt with by the Portfolio Committee such as the ratification Cluster Munitions Convention. There were also typographical errors in bullet points three and four, on the same page.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) said that the Committee had taken the position that the position that submissions ought to be made to the Chairpersons, so that the Report can be adopted; therefore Mr Esau's number of issues with the report should have been submitted properly.
The Co-Chairperson said that the position had indeed been as Mr Maziya stated, however Members had failed to make any submissions. Therefore, in this meeting Members are to make submissions and then the Committee will adopt the report subject to the amendments it agreed upon.
Mr Esau then said that a simple way to achieve his last proposal would be to transplant the scope used in the Legacy Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veteran.
The Co-Chairperson said he thought that the wholesale transplant of the scope of the Portfolio Committee's report. He also asked Members to write down their concerns with the Report so that there is a record of the issues.
Mr D Maynier (DA) said he had made a submission, but his submissions were so numerous that he would like to meet the compiler of the report; however this meeting was not made. Next he wanted to know if the Report presented to the Committee was the same as the Draft Legacy Report given to the Committee at the previous meeting. He then asked that the grammatical and typographical report have been dealt with. On page nine, paragraph 14, he felt that where it said that a closed meeting was to be held to discuss transformation within the South African Air Force, that it was unnecessary to have this as a closed meeting and therefore the word closed should be deleted. Second, he could not recall the discussion refereed to on page 11, paragraph A4 referring to closed meetings and that the non-compliance and that the rule on divulging of information given in closed meetings should be revised; therefore he suggested the paragraph be deleted.
Mr Maziya replied regarding the scheduling of closed meetings with the South African Air Force, by saying that if the Department felt that it required a closed meeting the Committee should oblige, because it is the prerogative of the Speaker and the Chair of Committee Chairs to determine whether the Department's application for a closed meeting is to be accepted; therefore it would be in the interest of the Committee being fully informed that the meeting be closed if necessary.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC) agreed with Mr Maziya's point and said the Committee should not delete items without proper cause and also this issue is being beefed up by the vetting issue in paragraph A5 on page 11. Therefore, the vetting issue will help to ensure that the members are qualified to hear the sensitive information presented in closed meetings and leaving it as it stand will assist future members to be fully informed by the Department.
The Co-Chairperson clarified that the closed meeting refereed to on page 9 was not on transformation only, it also included urgent matters which former Minister Sisulu wished to brief the Committee on. Further, regarding the rules on the divulging of information his Co-chairperson Mr J Maake (ANC) had vehemently raised the issue, saying that the punitive measures of Parliament are not adequate. Turning to page one of the final draft the format for the 2013/14 has been altered slightly in order to more clearly indicate the issues which the Committee dealt with and this should be done for all the financial years. On the number of meetings, according to his notes they had had nine meetings where the Committee had achieved quorum and issues dealt with in the eight meetings where quorum was not reached, the issues rolled over to the next meeting and he would appreciate it if the Committee Secretary could ensure that future members would be able to easily identify this.
Mr Maziya said the report should not be titled the Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence on its Activities, but rather should be title the Legacy Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence.
The Co-Chairperson, Mr Maake suggested that because the report was drafted to a template that the suggestion by Mr Maziya be captured in brackets.
Mr Mlambo disagreed with Mr Maake's counter-suggestion, saying that the template was only a guide and seeing as the report is for future members it is necessary to indicate that items were dealt with by the Committee, but also that there is a legacy of issues which will be carried over to the next Parliament.
Mr Esau proposed that the seeing as the first page basically outlines the agenda of the Committee's past meetings and that there will be a file available to the future members which contains all the information presented at the meetings and the minutes thereof; that the report should state that future members should simply refer to that file, rather than detailing the issues in the Legacy Report.
Mr Mlambo fully agreed with that suggestion.
The Co-Chairperson said that the final issue related to the recommended amendments to the Special Pensions Act which had been made by the Committee and sent to the National Treasury which were going to lapse, because the Treasury had not been able to deal with them. Therefore, this needs to be mentioned in the report so that the next Committee will be able to resuscitate the amendments in order to ensure that the Special Pensions Act does not exclude children as beneficiaries.
Mr Maake said seeing as the Committee had dealt with the Special Pensions Act, that it ought to change the not applicable under processed legislation for the 2013/2014 financial year to one.
The Co-Chairperson then placed the Report, subject to amendment, before the Committee for adoption.
Ms N Mabedla (ANC) moved for the adoption subject to amendments. This motion was seconded by Mr Mlambo.
Mr Maynier, saying that the Committee over its five year term had let down the South African National Defence Force and let down South Africa, asked for his objection to the Report to be noted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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