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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 August 2002
SOUTH AFRICAN MARITIME AND AERONAUTICAL SEARCH AND RESCUE BILL; ROAD ACCIDENT FUND AMENDMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)
Documents Handed Out:
Telkom's Submission on B23-2002
South African Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill [B23-2002]
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill [B27-2002]
Correction to Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill (Appendix 1)
The Committee considered the Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill and noted that Clause 10 posed problems. In general Members' concern arose from delays in the process of filling vacancies and a conflict of interest within the Board of the Road Accident Fund.
The Committee considered a submission from Telkom on the South African Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill. Telkom was dissatisfied as the Bill singles out Telkom as the only telecommunications company being statutorily obliged to assist in search and rescue operations. However, it expressed its willingness to continue participating in maritime services on voluntary basis.
Road Accident Fund Amendment Bill
The Department proposed a correction to cap the number of appointments that the Minister may make using the shortened process contemplated by Section 10(10). The reasoning is that the Minister may use this process for filling a maximum of two vacancies for the un-expired portion of the term of the Board. If there is a need to fill more than two members, then the Minister will revert to the long and transparent process stipulated in the Act.
The Department of Transport briefed the Committee on amendments to the Road Accident Fund Act of 1996, in particular to Section 10. Members felt that the Ministry of Transport must revert to previously shortlisted candidates to fill-in vacancies. But the DoT's legal advisor, Ms Maeko, informed the Committee that policy considerations do not allow the proposal. Ms Maeko asked the Committee for time to consult further on these amendments
Submission by Telkom on the South African Maritime and Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill
Ms Raffinetti informed the Committee that Telkom is currently being regulated by the Telecommunications Act. She added that it is not clear whether or not Telkom will remain part of maritime services given the proposed restructuring of it. She submitted that it is neither necessary nor fair to regulate their participation as envisaged by the Bill. Therefore Telkom recommends the scrapping of Clause 5(1) of the Bill as it imposes compulsory membership of SASAR. She further cautioned Members on the undesirability of determining Telkom's obligations outside the Telecommunications Act.
Ms N Maeko (Department of Transport) responded to the statement that Telkom was never consulted, saying that it is without foundation. There is proof to support the aforesaid assertion, in a letter inviting it to be part of the process. She indicated that the Department is not vehemently opposed to recommendations of Telkom as it is there on a voluntary basis. She would have to consult with the Ministry of Transport on this issue and come back to report.
Mr Farrow (DP) asked if it is possible to enlist Telkom's participation in search and rescue services outside the ambit of Clause 5(1). He emphasised that its services are an integral part of maritime services. In addition he asked if Telkom is a signatory to the SASAR manual.
Mr J Botes (SASAR) replied that the purpose of the proviso is not to put pressure on Telkom or other organisations. The essence of the proviso is to encourage participation by similar organisations. The participation of Telkom arises from the contract between it and the Department of Transport. He confirmed that Telkom is a signatory to the manual of SASAR. Therefore Telkom is part of the SASAR Executive Committee as a significant role-player in search and rescue operations. He also reminded the Committee that Telkom should not be viewed as a generic entity providing telecommunications services alone, but also providing maritime services within the context of the Bill.
Ms Raffinetti noted that the Telecommunications Act, 1996 establishes MARS (Maritime and Aeronautical Services), which will provide telecommunications facilities and services to the Department of Transport during maritime search and rescue services but it is not clear whether MARS will remain a part of Telkom. Telkom has no problem becoming part of SASAR on a voluntary basis, but not statutorily, as proposed by the Bill.
Ms Maeko stated that DoT accept Telkom's recommendations but will need time to consult with the Minister of Transport. The DoT might review the inclusion of Telkom in SASAR and find better ways of ensuring their participation. On the issue of concern over the extent of powers of the Director General, she indicated that it would be inappropriate to appoint anyone rather than the D-G. In terms of the Bill the Director General of Transport appoints the executive committee of SASAR, including the chairperson, and the chairpersons of the maritime and aeronautical subcommittees.
The Chair pointed out that Telkom being singled out as one of the organisations providing maritime service appears to be unfair. He alerted Members that Telkom will be listed in the near future in its IPO [Initial Public Offering]. The recommendation for the removal of Telkom is therefore valid and must be understood within that context.
Ms Maeko assured Telkom and Members that DoT will review the clause in question and perhaps be given an opportunity to report back during formal consideration of the Bill. The Chair suggested mid-September as provisional date for consultation between Telkom and DoT. This date was accepted by all parties.
The meeting was adjourned.
Correction to RAE Amendment Bill, 2002
The Department of Transport proposes the following correction to cap the number of appointments that the Minister may make using the shortened process contemplated by subsection (10). The idea is that the Minister may use this process for filling a maximum of 2 vacancies for the un-expired portion of the term of the Board. If there is a need to fill more than 2 members, then the Minister will revert back to the Long and transparent process stipulated in the Act.
(d) the addition of the following subsections:
(11) The Minister may use the process contemplated in subsection (10) for a maximum of 2 vacancies that may occur on the Board at any given time."
This we hope addresses the concern raised by honorable members that this shortened process should not be abused to replace up to a quarter of the Board without a transparent and public process.
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