Ms Lumka Yengeni (ANC) was elected unopposed as Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour. She urged Members to work together and set aside their political differences so as to prioritise serving South African citizens. She emphasised that Committee Members were allowed to have robust debates as long as they respected and valued the views of other Members. The Chairperson said there was a lot of work that still needed to be covered; therefore, she required hard work and dedication from Committee Members. All the Committee Members must have already read the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was a guideline for the path to be taken by the Committee, the Executive and government officials. The Portfolio Committee on Labour was regarded as the most important Portfolio Committee as it was impossible to talk about the economy without mentioning labour.
Members congratulated Ms Yengeni and reiterated that it was important for Committee Members to work together and respect those with different political opinions. The Members also indicated that it was a victory that the Government and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had managed to reach a settlement to end the prolonged platinum strike. They emphasised the need to prevent such lengthy strikes in the future as it crippled not only the state of the South African economy, but also people’s lives.
Election of a Chairperson
The Committee Secretary explained that the rules of National Assembly stipulate that within five working days of the announcement of the Members serving in the Portfolio Committee, they should elect a Chairperson. Only those Members serving full time in the Portfolio Committee on Labour would be allowed to take part in the election of the Chairperson.
She called for nominations for the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour. Ms T Mantashe (ANC) nominated Ms L Yengeni (ANC) and Ms F Loliwe (ANC) moved for the election of Ms Yengeni as a Chairperson. The Members accepted the nomination of Ms Yengeni as a Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Labour. The Committee Secretary congratulated Ms Yengeni and cordially requested her to assume the position of Chairperson.
Ms Yengeni officially welcomed everyone to the Committee meeting and reminded all Members that they were public representative and therefore they had a joint responsibility for serving South African citizens. She thanked Members that had entrusted her with the responsibility of being the Chairperson. She asked the Members to introduce themselves as this was the first meeting of the Fifth Term of Parliament and some Members were unfamiliar with each other.
The Chairperson reminded Members that there was a lot of work that needed to be covered; therefore, she required hard work and dedication from Committee Members. All Members must have already read the State of the Nation Address (SONA) which was a guideline for the path that will be taken by the Committee, the Executive and government officials. The Portfolio Committee on Labour was regarded as the most important Portfolio Committee as it was impossible to talk about the economy without mentioning labour. The Chairperson allowed Members to make final remarks before the adjournment of the meeting.
Mr M Bagraim (DA) congratulated the government and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) on the settlement that had ended the prolonged platinum strike and emphasised the need to prevent such a lengthy strike in the future as it crippled the state of the South African economy.
Mr Muteka (EFF) wished that the Committee could have a productive five years and indicated that he was concerned about monitoring the compliance of labour laws in South Africa. He had spent almost 20 years in the manufacturing industry and had seen the exploitation of the working class.
Ms Mantashe (ANC) stated that she was confident that the Members will be able to bring fresh ideas that could be implemented by the Department of Labour to tackle the problem of employment in South Africa. Members needed to be mindful that they were public representatives, therefore, needed to serve the interests of the people who voted for them into Parliament.
Mr I Ollis (DA) was concerned about the high rate of unemployment in the country. There was a need to help young people who were still struggling to enter the labour market. There was an urgent need to empower young people especially those from poor areas, and he urged Committee Members to work together towards solving the issue of unemployment. Working conditions of employees should not be underestimated as this was directly linked to productivity.
Mr W Madisha (COPE) said he was also hopeful that Committee Members would be able to find common ground and serve the interests of the public.
The Chairperson indicated that since this was the first Committee meeting of the Fifth Parliament the sole purpose was to elect a Chairperson and then let Members get familiar with the kind of work that was expected. They needed to look at the work covered by the Portfolio Committee in the Fourth Parliament, as this would provide a guideline on the issues that required emphasis. The Members should expect briefings from a number of stakeholders in the coming weeks, not just the Department of Labour. The Chairperson added that there was a need to include the labour unions as they play an influential role in the labour market. It was a major victory that the Government and AMCU had reached a settlement to end the prolonged platinum strike, as this was crippling not only the economy of South Africa but also the lives of the people. She reiterated that there was a lot of work that was still ahead and Members needed to work extremely hard to ensure the success of the Portfolio Committee on Labour.
The meeting was adjourned.
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