Committee Legacy Report: consideration and adoption

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Communications

12 March 2014
Chairperson: Mr S Kholwane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Communications met for the consideration and adoption of the Legacy Report. The executive summary of the report highlighted the activities of the Portfolio Committee over the last five years. It noted that the Portfolio Committee on Communications had consistently carried out its legal mandate while responding to challenges that might have negatively impacted on the ICT and Postal sectors.

Members of the Committee made some changes and amendments to the report.  Members were concerned about the numbering and the capturing of the dates in the report. They agreed to most of the insertions that were made in the report.

The Committee Secretary had to explain why there were no oversight visits undertaken by the Portfolio Committee on Communications in 2010/11 and 2013/14 financial years.

The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
 

Meeting report

Opening and Welcoming Remarks
The Chairperson opened the meeting by welcoming the Committee Members and other participants. He stated that the purpose of that meeting was the consideration and the adoption of the Committees’ Legacy Report.

Apologies
The Chairperson acknowledged apologies from Ms M Shinn (DA), Ms F Muthambi (ANC), and Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP).

Consideration and Adoption of the Legacy Report
The Chairperson proposed a page-by-page consideration of the report. The executive summary of the report noted that over the last five years, the Portfolio Committee on Communications had consistently carried out its legal mandate while responding to challenges that might have negatively impacted on the ICT and Postal sectors.

Mr B Steyn (DA) corrected on the last paragraph of page 3 of the report the word “of” to be replaced by the words “dealt with”. Therefore, the sentence would read as follows: “The report also highlights the major activities the Committee dealt with during the 4th Parliament”.

Ms S Tsebe (ANC) said the report should not disclose the cause of death of Ms Magazi but rather note her death after a short illness.

The Chairperson read out the section of the report dealing with the death as follows: “In closing, let us not forget those who passed on and who had contributed immensely to the work of the Committee. The death of Ms Nontsikelelo Magazi was a huge loss to the Committee. She was a Member who served for many years in Parliament and sat on the Portfolio Committee on Communications”. The Chairperson proposed that this section should be removed that from the executive summary and taken to the foreword.

Ms M Lesoma (ANC) said the last paragraph of page 4 should end with the word “requirements”.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Lesoma that the last paragraph would be the one ending with the word “requirements”.

The Chairperson said under the table of contents on page 5, there was no foreword.

Ms Lesoma said the foreword by the Chairperson should be accommodated in the table of contents on page 5 of the report.

Ms Lesoma said the picture of the Committee Members at an oversight visit should be shown on the report so that there would be interest in reading it.

Mr D Kekana (ANC) said the Committee was used to adopting minutes that were print written and since the issue of pictures was coming in they should also adopt them.

Mr Steyn asked whether it was the intention to include pictures of Members of the Committee since 2009 or pictures of current Members that would be included in the report.

The Chairperson said they would rely on the pictures from the website of Parliament and they would use pictures of Members who served on the Committee from inception in 2009, but if the Committee found difficulty in that they would use pictures of Members that were consistently in the Committee.

Ms Lesoma said the support staff should ensure that the numbering in the report was accurately done.

Mr Steyn said paragraph 1.1 on page 8 of the report should be changed to read as follows: “The National Assembly (NA) appoints members to a number of Portfolio Committees to exercise oversight over the various National Government Departments. The role of the Portfolio Committees was amongst others, to: consider Bills; deal with departmental budget votes; oversee the implementation of the work of the departments it was responsible for, enquire and make recommendations about any aspect of the departments, including structures, functionality and policies”.

 Mr Steyn suggested that the last two bullet points be moved up together with the first three and if that was done, the words “Broadly the Committee is mandated to” should be removed. Therefore, the whole paragraph 1.1 would end with the word “responsibility”.

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) said going back to paragraph 1.1 in terms of the changes proposed by Mr Steyn, the word “shadow” did not make sense because the Committee did not shadow oversight.

The Committee agreed.

Mr Steyn said the Committee should insert the word “its entities” on paragraph 1.1.2 on the third bullet point on page 9 of the report where the sentence read as follows: “Maintain oversight over the Executive, DoC and the GCIS and BSA”.

The Chairperson said the proposal was that the Committee should follow the last bullet because in the last bullet they were doing oversight but when they were approving fiscal transfers they mentioned state entities.

Mr Steyn said the last paragraph of page 9 should read as follows: “The purpose of this report is to provide an account of the Portfolio Committee on Communications’ work during the 4th Parliament and to inform Members of the incoming Parliament of key outstanding issues pertaining to the oversight and legislative and legislative programme of (i) DoC and its entities; (ii) GCIS and its entity; and (iii) BSA”. Therefore, from that sentence they should take out the words “new and”.

Mr Steyn also suggested that the Committee should insert the words “details of” in the next paragraph which the sentence would read as follows: “It provides details of activities, achievements and challenges that emerged during the period under review and outlines issues that should be considered to follow up by 5th Parliament”.

Ms Lesoma asked whether they were providing details or they were summarising the area because the problem was that if it was details other people that would be reading the report might overstretch the expectation of those details.

Mr Kekana suggested that they deal with major changes and leave the little ones and concentrate on something that would make a big difference.

Ms Tsebe said on the insertion raised by Mr Steyn to her it didn’t matter whether they put the insertion of details or leave it as it was.

Mr Steyn suggested that the Committee insert the words “the rollout of broadband” in first sentence of the last paragraph of page 10 which would read as follows: “Future revenue growth will be fuelled by accelerating the rollout of broadband”, therefore, the word “deployment should be deleted.

The Committee agreed.

Mr Steyn noted that on the last paragraph of page 12 there was a reference 13 which he could get what it meant and could confuse people that would be reading the document.

Mr Kekana said there was a standard way of writing a paper and if someone didn’t understand terminology they should know where to check.

The Chairperson said if Members remembered the amendments from the NCOP of ICASA stated that the National Assembly language was not simple for an ordinary person on the street and therefore, they had to amend. And one requirement of writing legislation was that it should be readable for an average person on the street so as to read and understand. So the Legacy report should follow the same rules but what Mr Steyn was raising was the reference 13 in terms of the report.

Ms Lesoma suggested that the sub-heading starting with the words “legislative framework” should be highlighted and not be a standalone item.
 
Ms Tsebe said there was nothing wrong with that sub-heading because there were three standalone items in that page.

Ms Lesoma said there should be consistency in terms of the system of writing.

Mr Steyn suggested that if there were no amendments on any other pages they should go to page 46.

Ms Tsebe suggested that if a Member wanted to raise an issue he/she should be allowed to go to that page rather than go through the document page by page.

Ms Lesoma sought clarity in terms of the number of meetings the Committee held in a year because the table on page 30 reflected a total of 217 meetings between 2009 and 2014.

Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma, Committee Secretary said there was no actual number of meetings stipulated by Parliament that the Committee should hold per year but what was reflected was the number of meetings the Committee held from 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13, and 2013/14.

Mr Steyn said on page 47 of the report it was indicated on the table – “March 2014, Process to replace one Board member”. He suggested that the same should be indicated on the table of the MDDA Board on page 46 of the report.

Ms Lesoma agreed with the suggestion by Mr Steyn

The Chairperson said they needed just to insert the names and dates because they were going to be announced in Parliament tomorrows.

Ms Tsebe asked for clarity from the Committee Secretary in terms of the oversight visits of the Committee which indicated zero in 2010/11 and 2013/14.

The Committee Secretary said in 2009/10 the Committee had only one oversight visit to Telkom in Melkbos strand and in 2010/11 they’ve undertaken a study tour to United Kingdom which had gone back to 2011/12 where they’ve undertaken 7 oversight visits.

Ms Newhoudt-Druchen said in terms of the study tour some Members went to the IPU and some went elsewhere but there was nothing mentioned in that document.

Ms Tsebe said it was unlike that Committee not have an oversight visit locally in 2010/11 because they were very busy as a Committee. She asked what they would then call that 2 day engagement in Gauteng in 2010/11 because they here in South Africa and could not confine it to an international preparation.

Mr Steyn said he supported Ms Tsebe’s rational because ever since he was there they’ve been on a number of oversight visits in 2013/14 but it was reflected as zero in the report.

The Committee Secretary said for instance, in the 2013/14 financial year the Committee did not have any oversight visits. The financial year of 2013/14 started on the 1 April 2013 and finished at 31 March 2014. The last oversight visit was in the Eastern Cape which was a follow up visit that was conducted on the January to February 2013, and that would fall under the 2012/13 financial year. Secondly, in terms of the oversight visit and the study tour the 2 day engagements in Gauteng with the sector before going oversees formed part of the international study tour report hence it was not separated because the report that was adopted by the Committee on the study tour to UK contained the engagements that took place in Gauteng prior to the Committee going abroad.

Mr Kekana requested the Committee Secretary to give Members a print out of oversight visits and study tours that were undertaken by the Committee because the records of oversight he had seen in that Committee were not as nit as in other Committees he serve on so as to make sure that was the case.

Ms Tsebe said in terms of records of documents the Committee Secretary was upfront with information but wondered what Mr Kekana was getting from the Committee Secretary that was not the same that had been given to her.
           
The Chairperson said in reality in 2010/11 they didn’t do much in terms of oversight visits and at one point they were a doormat Committee and 2010/11 had the highest number of meeting because they were sitting in Parliament. But there were things that the support staff did not put in the report for instance when they were invited by the department, the Minister or entities, and those were not initiated by the Committee and it was why they were not included in that report.

Ms Lesoma said in terms of the 2010/11 the Committee being doormat it was because there was lesser understanding of oversight and study tours which the importance of that should be captured.

The Chairperson said the last point on the table on page 30 was that the number of petitions that were considered was not 1 but 2 that were given to the Committee.

The Chairperson said once the foreword was included in the document the numbering would change.

Mr Steyn noted that on page 57 of the document under the glossary of terms the DoC was not indicated and since that document was related to the DoC it should be included in the glossary of terms.

Mr Steyn said there were annexures in that report and noted that in terms of the attendance record the manner in which the dates were put was little bit confusing. He suggested that they get one format of the dates so that it would not confuse someone who was going to read that report.

The Chairperson said that would be corrected when they look at the numbering and get one format for the dates.

Mr Steyn moved for the adoption of the report.

Ms Tsebe seconded the motion.

The Committee adopted the report with amendments.

Mr Steyn thanked the Chairperson for the way he led the Committee and particularly how he handled the Members of the opposition parties.

The Committee Secretary also thanked the Chairperson for his leadership and thanked Members of the Committee for their support in all the years he was working for the Committee.

The Chairperson thanked Members of the Committee for their dedication to the work of the Committee. It was a pleasure for him to chair the Committee and wished the best to all Members of the Committee. He thanked the support staff for their dedication to the work of the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) for the part it played in terms of its reports and the recording of the meetings of the Portfolio Committee on Communications as Members and the public always referred to the PMG recordings and reports if there was something which had been missed in a meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

Present

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