The Committee met to consider its report on the Department of Mineral Resources 2014/2015 budget vote.
Members questioned the inclusion of certain Committee recommendations, with the DA objecting to reference about the need for centralised research. Members proposed recommendations be included to cover regulating legislation and monitoring the implementation of the Mining Charter. Furthermore it was felt other recommendations could have been elaborated on, particularly in relation to the need for more inspectors.
Members were in disagreement on the conclusion of the Report, with some expressing that it did not accurately reflect the lack of consensus around the support of the Budget Vote. Members engaged in further discussion on the need for minority views to be reflected in Committee Reports.
After debate, the Report was voted on with all five Members present of the ANC voting in favour of the adoption of the Report while three Members of the opposition (2 DA and 1 EFF) objected to the adoption of the Report for different reasons. The Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources on the Strategic Plan and Budget Vote 32 of the Department of Mineral Resources for the 2014/2015 Financial Year was thus adopted by the Committee with amendments.
The Committee’s Budget Vote 32 Debate would take place 15 July 2014.
Ms Ayanda Boss, Committee Secretary, noted the apology of Mr N Mandela (ANC).
The apology was accepted by the Committee.
Committee Report on Mineral Resources 2014 Budget
The Chairperson took the Committee through the Report page by page until the recommendations section.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) questioned where the first recommendation, on centralised research, came from as he did not remember it from the discussions and it was not something he necessarily agreed with – how was this recommendation reached? He did not agree with the conclusion of the Report.
The Chairperson asked how the Member thought the Report should be concluded.
Mr Lorimer did not think the Committee should support the budget.
Mr J Malema (EFF) did not think there was sufficient content on the need for regulating legislation under the Committee’s recommendations. Under the observations, it should have been noted that the Department had no mechanism in place for the monitoring of the implementation of the Mining Charter. In his view, the conclusion of the Report was a true reflection as he was briefed that objections were not usually included in the conclusion of Reports. Nonetheless it was an incorrect practice. Incorrect practices should not be continued with just because it was a practice. People read the Report and people would assume there were no objections. It must be noted in the Report that he did not agree with the budget.
Ms N Mdaka (ANC) thought the recommendations were fine but noted bullet point two could be elaborated on – this recommendation dealt with the need for inspectors to be increased to ensure compliance to mining legislation and regulation of the mining sector. Apart from this the Report was done well and she supported the budget.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) expressed that the Committee felt more mechanisms were needed to ensure inspection and monitoring was increased to monitor all mines. The budget vote did represent the consensus after going to a vote and this would be reflected in the minutes of that meeting but not the Report. This was the standard and if this were to be changed there were committees which dealt with such matters.
Ms Z Faku (ANC) proposed that the Committee adopt the budget and recommended the Chairperson to engage with the Department on the Committee’s concerns and report to Members at the next Committee meeting.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) thought the budget could be adopted with amendments as it would assist the Committee. The way the Report was crafted was helpful to the Committee.
Mr H Schmidt (DA) highlighted that these documents went out to the world and was read by mining houses and the Chamber of Mines. He noted a few grammatical amendments and provided alternative phrasing of some of the Committee recommendations for it to read better.
Mr Lorimer turned to the recommendation on inspectors noting that all inspectors should be increased and not just health inspectors as the recommendation currently stated.
The Chairperson explained bullet one of the recommendations, which dealt with the centralisation of research, came from himself and some Committee Members. It emerged after Mintek and the Health and Safety Council, in particular, discussed its November summit and the DG explained this centralised research would be considered. Committee Members did not object to this.
The Chairperson further explained that a Report could not be adopted twice. At the Committee’s last meeting there was agreement on the budget by vote. Now there was a Committee Report with recommendations for Members to adopt based on the events of the last Committee meeting. The point raised by Mr Malema should be accommodated regarding the recommendation on effective and efficient mechanisms to monitor the implementation of the Mining Charter. It could be reflected in the recommendations that the Committee felt the Department should work on these mechanisms. The issue of inspectors would also be factored in the recommendations.
Ms Mdaka felt the word “health” inspectors should stay under the recommendation bullet point 2 to make it clear which kind of inspectors were discussed – in this case, health and safety inspectors.
The Chairperson suggested the recommendation read “in particular health and safety inspectors”.
Mr Lorimer agreed with this suggestion. On the recommendation on centralised research, the Chairperson might have agreed to this but he did not – if the Committee agreed with this recommendation, that was fine, but he did not and therefore did not agree with the Report. On the conclusion, he suggested “by majority vote” for clarity and accuracy – this would indicate the decision reached was not by consensus or unanimous. The conclusion would read – “The Portfolio Committee having considered the Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote of the Department of Mineral Resources recommends by majority vote the House supports Budget Vote 32: Mineral Resources”.
The Chairperson said that even the inclusion of that proposed amendment would have to go to a vote.
Mr Lorimer interjected that this was fine. He would still object to the Report in the House so it was no skin off his back.
The Chairperson did not appreciate Mr Lorimer speaking without being given the opportunity to formally do so. Up until now, the Committee was doing well and he urged Members to keep this up.
Mr Malema asked staff members not to interrupt Members speaking.
The Chairperson did not hear it but urged those in attendance to enjoy the privilege of being in the Committee meeting and allow Members to debate. If he had heard, he would have dealt with it on the spot.
The decision to include Mr Lorimer’s proposed amendment could go to vote but the Chairperson could not see how it would help. The process would have to be checked and he did not know if he had the power to allow such a procedure to go ahead. To play devil’s advocate, if he included Mr Lorimer’s proposed amendment, the Member would still object to the budget in the House.
Mr Malema thought the view of the majority should at all times be represented and the issue was very well captured by Mr Lorimer. He had not heard of any committee which dealt with how to write reports. There were no rules referred to as to why minority views could not be represented in reports. Even though the minority were a few, the public still needed to know not all Members agreed to the Report. He knew that in the Home Affairs Committee, minority views were noted in the Report. This was what democracy was about – numbers should never be used to suppress. He felt Mr Lorimer’s proposal was the most sensible one as it did not even single out particular parties but just made it known that there was no consensus. From this, those reading the document and were not privy to the meeting would know there were different views expressed in the meeting. Furthermore, these documents, once published, were accessed internationally and the world needed to know not all Members were yes men and women.
The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee had dealt with budget and were now dealing with the Report currently in front of Members. He asked if there were any objections to the Report including the proposed amendment by Mr Lorimer.
Mr Schmidt did not have a problem with the content of the Report and on these grounds could not object to the Report but he felt the conclusion of the Report was not a true reflection of what occurred at the last Committee meeting. The rules indicated minority views were to be included in reports.
Ms Mafolo said that if a Member did not understand what another Member had said they should rather ask for clarity – if Members felt a certain process was wrong, this should be raised with the relevant Committee but this Portfolio Committee did not have the power to institute such changes. She was happy with the conclusion as it was and if there were any outstanding issues, it should go to a vote so as not to waste time. There were also other platforms where Members who were unhappy could raise their objections.
Mr Malema said there were no platforms which dealt with how to write a report or compile minutes so Members should not be misled. He had a problem with people who complied with incorrect procedures for the sake of continuity- the views of the minority must be expressed. He did not disagree with the Report with amendments as it was a true reflection of the Committee’s work. He also agreed with the recommendation on centralising research. He did not say the Report should not be adopted but the conclusion was not a true reflection of the spirit of the Committee’s last meeting and the rights of the minority should not be suppressed which was a fundamental element which he would never allow. Agreement could not be enforced by the majority. An impression should never be created that all Members agreed to the conclusion.
Ms Mdaka noted the minority would always disagree with the majority so the best way was to use numbers as that was democracy. It was unfair to waste the time of Members in this way.
Ms Faku said there were norms and standards with any institution on how to write reports and it should be kept that way.
The Chairperson noted it was within the rights of Members to disagree with the conclusion of the Report or the reflections contained in the Report. He asked Members to indicate their support for the adoption of the Report.
All members of the majority ANC party present raised their hands in support. There were five such Members in total.
The Chairperson highlighted again that Members had the right to disagree with the Report when it was tabled in the House.
The three Members of the opposition present raised their hands in objection to the adoption of the Report.
The Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources on the Strategic Plan and Budget Vote 32 of the Department of Mineral Resources for the 2014/2015 Financial Year was adopted after being moved for by Ms Mafolo and seconded by Ms Mdaka.
Mr Malema moved for the objection to the Report while Mr Lorimer seconded this objection.
The Committee would next meet on 30 July 2014.
The meeting was adjourned.
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