In the Committee report on the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS), Members disagreed with the phrasing of the recommendation that the appointment process of the Inspecting Judge had to be more transparent, and that Parliament had to recommend to the President. Currently, the Minister recommended to the President. The matter was discussed and the conclusion was reached that the appointment process had not been discussed sufficiently by the Committee to make such a recommendation. There was also doubt about the feasibility and desirability of Parliament recommending to the President. It was agreed that the formulation had to be amended to say that the appointment process had to be further discussed by the next Parliament. The report was adopted with that amendment.
The Portfolio Committee Legacy report was adopted.
The minutes of 11, 19 and 26 February and 5 March were adopted with minor technical amendments.
The leave taking saw Members of the ANC, DA and IFP express heartfelt appreciation for the way in which the three parties had worked together as a team. ANC Members were especially appreciative. An ANC Member commended Mr J Selfe (DA) for being the institutional memory of the Committee. The Chairperson was praised and thanked for his capable leadership. Several Members expressed a deep commitment to service, and appreciation for such a commitment in other Members.
Adoption of Committee report on the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services
Mr J Selfe (DA) drew attention to the phrase that stated that the Minister was not to play a role in the appointment of the Inspecting Judge. Currently, the Minister recommended to the President. It was stated that the appointment process had to be more transparent, and that Parliament should recommend to the President. The question was whether the Portfolio Committee could draw up a shortlist. He believed that the Committee did not have that capacity.
Mr M Cele (ANC) said that he was worried. The Minister rightly had a role to play.
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC) agreed that the phrasing was not satisfactory. There had not been enough meetings between the Department of Correctional Services and the Judge. Against that background, the removal of the Minister from the process did not sound good. The Judge was independent, but the Department and the JICS had to work together. There had been a lack of response from the Minister.
Mr Selfe said that the wording was unfortunate, because it dealt only with the appointment, and not with the relationship with the Minister. There was the option of moving the position of the Judge into that of a Chapter 9 institution, like that of the Public Protector. There would be a shortlist, and Parliament would recommend to the Minister. Independence for the Judge, in Chapter 9 terms, would imply independence of the executive authority. He agreed with Ms Ngwenya that better words had to be found. Currently, there could be a perception that the Minister could choose who would oversee his Department.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) said that if the Committee wanted the Minister removed from the process, Chapter 9 status for the Judge could be discussed. The fact was that the Judge was financed by the DCS under the Ministry. It was important that the Minister keep the Committee informed about the appointment process.
Ms M Phaliso (ANC) said that the Committee had not changed anything involving the independence of the JICS. There had not been sufficient chance to brainstorm the independence of the JICS. Independence for the Judge had not been sufficiently debated. The Committee had looked for the founding documents that would cite the reasons for establishing the JICS. It would not promote transparency to exclude the Minister. If the Committee had to go through CVs of applicants, it would turn into a post office, like the Agriculture Portfolio Committee. It was not acceptable to steer the next Parliament in the wrong direction. It was a public document. Issues still had to be worked through.
The Chairperson suggested phrasing on the lines that the Committee supported the recommendations about transparency, but that the appointment process had to be explored further by the next Parliament.
Mr L Max (DA) said that he was surprised. He could not recall a discussion in which the Committee had made the recommendation about the appointment process. It was most probably from an input by NGOs. The Committee had argued for independence because problems had been experienced. It was noble to consider Chapter 9 status for the Judge, but it was not possible to go beyond supporting independence for the JICS.
Mr Mpho Mathabathe, Committee researcher, agreed that the reference to the exclusion of the Minister from appointment had to be removed, and that the appointment process be taken up by the next Parliament.
The Chairperson concluded that the sentence about the Minister would be removed, and that a sentence would be inserted to the effect that the appointment process had to be explored by the next Parliament.
The report on maximising the independence of the JICS was adopted.
Adoption of the Legacy report
The Chairperson noted that the report showed what the PC had started off with, and whether the Department had improved. The report stated what the PC thought had to stay on the agenda, and what not. The report was based on the initial pillars identified, observation and recommendations.
The Chairperson proposed that the report be adopted. The Committee Secretary, Ms Cindy Balie, had compiled the report, together with colleagues in the other security departments. There were paragraphs that appeared in the reports of the Departments of Police and Defense. It was being said that some paragraphs mirrored what IPID was saying, but the Committee was not concerned with what that unit was saying. He asked if Members were happy with the report.
The Legacy report was adopted.
Adoption of Committee minutes
The minutes of 11, 19 and 26 February and 5 March were adopted with minor technical amendments.
The Chairperson called on individual Members to make comments.
Ms M Phaliso (ANC)
Ms Phaliso paid tribute to Ms Balie for a five-year working relationship that was never problematic. The work of the PC was done. Members had aired their views. She had advised the committee secretary at the Agriculture Portfolio Committee to work like Ms Balie. Mr Mpho Mathabathe, the Committee Researcher, had empowered Members. He and Ms Balie together, unpacked things for Members, who never had occasion to be unhappy with their reports. She was thankful for a chance to have served her country. The Committee was a collective unit who learnt together. Mr Selfe was the institutional memory, and much was learnt from Mr Ndlovu. She appreciated the fact that different parties argued, but could agree to disagree. Mr Abram was straightforward and principled, and much was learnt from him. He could transfer his skills elsewhere.
Ms Phaliso told Mr Max that he was a smart man. She was in the habit of telling young people how he had progressed from a poor background by his own efforts. She told Mr V Magagula (ANC) that she also told youth that he was an example of someone who was young and “hip”, and served in Parliament. She herself was outspoken. Mr Cele was the wise one who taught her to calm down. Ms Ngwenya had taught her what a woman had to know.
Ms Phaliso thanked the Chairperson for his guidance and leadership. Had it not been for him, the Committee could never have been of such a calibre. The Committee had been functional and focused because of him. Ms Balie was not only a good secretary, but also like a child and a daughter to her.
Mr V Magagula (ANC)
Mr Magagula said that it had been an amazing experience to be moved from the Minerals portfolio to Correctional Services. The Chairperson was well informed, and also a friend. Ms Ngwenya had made him to be what he was. She thought him brilliant. He and Mr Selfe had smiled at each other when they met, and they had become friends. He asked that Ms Nyanda (ANC) who had passed away during the PC term, also be remembered. He appreciated the qualities of Mr Abram and Mr Cele. He remembered that Mr Max had once said that if Ms Phaliso did not go with the PC on an oversight visit, he would refuse to go. Mr Mathabathe had informed the Committee. Ms Balie was simply the best secretary ever.
Mr S Abram (ANC)
Mr Abram used the word weemoed (sadness, sorrow) to describe his emotions. He had first occupied a position as a public representative on 10 March, 49 years before. Since that time, it had been a continuous process for him. Public representatives had to harness energy to eradicate poverty. There had to be economic equality, so that people could have an opportunity to be independent and look after their own needs. There had to be a photograph of the Portfolio Committee. He could recall a time when Nic Olivier, Jac Rabie and Roelf Meyer were on the Constitutional Development and Planning Standing Committee. Little steps were taken to reach the goals.
Mr Abram told Ms Phaliso that he did not deserve the tribute she had paid to him. He had been a constituency-based Member in the past. Mr Abram quoted what a British Lord had told his son when he was about to become a Member of Parliament. He said that many men got positions and thought that they were getting it only for themselves. Hence they were not available to serve. A public representative had to remove people’s burdens. If one took the trappings, one had to draw the coach. He had always believed that the voter was the boss.
Mr Abram described the Chairperson as firm, yet sympathetic. He had never seen him snap down anyone. He deserved to be congratulated. He told Ms Ngwenya that he did not want to use farm metaphors to describe her, but she was like a mother hen whose chickens would follow her to seek cover against the storm. She took care of those she was responsible for.
Mr Abram said that he recalled a day when he was sitting in the gallery of the Old Assembly Chamber. Connie Mulder, speaking in the no confidence debate, had told the Speaker: die Parlement sal blank bly (Parliament will remain white). He later told Dr Mulder in the passage: Doktor, ons kom hier sit (Doctor, we will come to sit here). The Correctional Services portfolio was a responsible one. There were vulnerable women, poor girls who were used as drug mules, and ended up being sexually abused in prison in Mozambique. A way had to be found to bring them back. He thanked Mr Mathabathe for his efforts, and the Secretary for bringing stability.
Mr L Max (DA)
Mr Max told the Chairperson that when he had watched him in the beginning, he thought that he was likely to fight with him. But he had changed – he had seen that the Chairperson was a good man. He also told someone in the beginning that the Chairperson was fresh, and was taken to task for that.
Mr Max admitted that he had not wanted to be on the Portfolio Committee. He was a “cop”, and he wanted people in, not out. Yet once on oversight, he could not recall that it was ever necessary to vote. In the bus, the Committee was as one family. He wished everybody well.
Mr M Cele (ANC)
Mr Cele thanked the Chairperson for showing leadership, and for the way he ran meetings. He represented the Committee well, and was never harsh, arrogant or rude. Some people became aloof when they got status, but it was not so with the Chairperson.
Mr Cele said that as Mr Magagula had indicated, the Committee looked up to Ms Ngwenya as one who led the way. If he were the boss, he would bring her back to the Committee. Mr Ndlovu brought experience and know-how of police matters. He was like a brother to Members of other parties, and was not only an IFP Member, but a servant of the people as well. When he met Mr Selfe, his impression was that Mr Selfe had previously worked in the Department of Correctional Services, as he had a lot of experience. Mr Selfe was an asset to the Committee. Mr Max would be missed. He brought know-how. Mr Mathabathe never gave reason to complain about his work. Mr Abram spoke his mind and always helped the issue at hand. He showed the Committee maturity. Mr Magagula was young and had a lot to learn. He advised him to fulfill his goals of furthering his education.
Mr J Selfe (DA)
Mr Selfe noted that Winston Churchill had said that a country could be judged by the way it treated its prisoners. He had worked with Helen Suzman in 1978, who had said the same. Prisoners were the most vulnerable people in society. They might be bad people, but still they were also very vulnerable. Correctional Services had been the passion of his political career. Barring a brief absence, he had been a Member of that Portfolio Committee since 1994. Things had improved over time. There was the recognition that solutions had to be collective.
Mr Selfe told the Committee that he was going to miss them. He hoped that some members would come back, as continuity was needed.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP)
Mr Ndlovu thanked the Chairperson for his guidance. He had given everyone the right to speak, and their opinions were respected. All Members treated each other like brothers and sisters, and that included the Committee section. It was good to work with people who respected each other’s points of view. He said that he would like to come back to discipline Mr Magagula harshly for coming late (the remark was made and received in an amicable manner).
Ms W Ngwenya (ANC)
Ms Ngwenya told the Committee that she thanked God for bringing the Committee together, and the ANC for giving her an opportunity to serve South Africa. She thanked the Chairperson for being a mentor. He had not changed since the days of his leadership in greater Johannesburg. He was still talked about and missed there. She wished to praise him while he was still alive. The Correctional Services Portfolio Committee was the best of any portfolio committee she knew. The Whip and the Chair worked well together, and also with the Minister. She had worked together with other Members with all her heart, and she was going to miss them. Ms Balie was always helpful, and Members could learn from Mr Mathabathe’s research. The Committee section was the hands and feet of the Committee.
Ms Ngwenya told Mr Selfe that she had been learning from him since 2005. He had helped her to understand, and had made her like the Portfolio Committee. Mr Cele was a mentor to her, a comrade, a father and a brother. Mr Ndlovu was of a different party, but also as much of a father to her. The Portfolio Committee was the only committee where it was never necessary to vote. Members debated without splitting along party lines. Ms Phaliso was a sister and a twin. Mr Abram was a father to her, he taught her respect. She had been deployed in the Portfolio Committee. She was not coming back.
The Chairperson thanked all, and the Committee section in particular. He also thanked PMG, who had been a consistent presence at Committee meetings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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