Committee activities Committee Programme

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

25 July 2014
Chairperson: Ms L Zwane (ANC, Kwazulu-Natal); Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Select Committee on Education and Recreation together with the Select Committee on Social Services had a joint sitting but dealt with their business for the day separately.

One of the Committee Secretaries delivered a presentation on the activities and procedures relevant to both the Committees. Some of these items were the annual activities that the Committees would engage in during the different parliamentary sessions as well as the responsibilities of the Committee support staff,. Activities included dealing with the annual reports, budget votes and strategic plans of government departments and their entities as well as oversight visits to provinces. The difference between Section 75 and 76 Bills was explained. Other in-house matters touched on were the meeting attendance of members, seating arrangements and language usage in meetings.

Both the Select Committees adopted Programmes for the third term.

Meeting report

Mr Mzuyanda Dlanga, Committee Secretary for the Education and Recreation Select Committee, delivered a presentation on the activities, procedures, powers and mandate relevant to both the Committees as well as the difference between Section 75 and 76 Bills. He explained the Committee support staff: these were the Committee Secretary and Assistant; a Researcher and a Content Adviser. An Executive Secretary was also assigned to each Chairperson of a Committee.

Part of the role of the Committee Secretary was to coordinate Committee activities and to provide procedural advice. The Committee Researcher amongst other duties had to provide the Committee with a summary and analysis of Bills that appeared before the Committees.  The Committee Content Advisor was tasked with providing subject-specific content support and to ensure quality assurance of all Committee outputs such as Minutes and Committee Reports. The Executive Secretary to a Chairperson had to call and prepare for management meetings. The Committee Assistant had to see to the Committee’s administrative and logistical arrangements.

Committee powers and its mandate was also elaborated upon. Each Committee had to monitor the financial and non-financial performance of government departments and their entities in order to ensure that national objectives were met. The mandate of each Committee entailed considering and reporting on international agreements and instruments that had been referred to it. It had to additionally process and pass legislation. Furthermore it had to facilitate public participation in parliament relating to issues of oversight and legislation.

Each Committee had a quarterly programme that was discussed at a Committee management meeting. It would be adopted for recommendation to a full Committee meeting. The programme would thereafter be considered and adopted in a Committee meeting.

The Committees were provided with an overview of major annual activities. However in this instance Mr Dlanga was more specific to the Education and Recreation Select Committee’s activities. During the first term of parliament the Committee would deal with outstanding matters such as department/public entity annual reports of the previous year or the Committee could be briefed by the provinces and/or the Department of Basic Education/Umalusi on Grade 12 results for the previous year. The second term of parliament which was from April-June could see the Committee dealing with budget votes and strategic plans. The third term from July-September was usually when oversight was done and there was also a NCOP Provincial Week. The fourth term started in October up until parliament closed. It was when oversight visits usually took place. During this time there could also be annual report briefings and efforts in taking “parliament to the people”.

The annual activities of the Committees were also informed by the strategic plan of the Committee.

Mr Dlanga noted that the Committees processed section 75 and section 76 bills. Section 76 bills affected the provinces and provincial mandates on bills had to be obtained. There was a six week cycle attached to section 76 bills. Section 75 bills were of national interest and did not affect provinces hence it took a shorter period of two meeting days to finalise. With section 75 bills there was no need to obtain provincial mandates. All that was needed to vote on a section 75 bill was a quorum of five members. Part of the legislative process was that the Committee had to furnish reports on bills to the House. He provided a brief breakdown of the six-week process of a Section 76 bill. Besides the Committee Reports on bills, reports should also be completed on international agreements, oversight visits, section 100(1)(b) of the Constitution interventions, international study tours and statutory appointments. There was also a referral procedure to which Committee Reports should be published in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) parliamentary papers.

Part of the work of members of the Committee was to participate in study groups that comprised of members of parliament from the same political party. No parliamentary support staff members could attend study groups of political parties. Political parties had their own support staff which provided administrative and logistical support. No members of a political party may attend a study group of another political party.

Clarity was provided on how support was given to members for the writing of speeches for their debates. A political party through its researchers was responsible for assisting members with speeches for debates. Researchers and content advisers from the Committees could assist when approached by individual members but it was not recommended. Parliamentary staff policy was that staff was non-partisan and should not be seen as taking sides; this included the writing of speeches and the giving of political advice to members.  Committee Staff was expected to assist all members irrespective of the political party the member belonged to.

All members were expected to attend Committee meetings. Members who for whatever reason were unable to attend Committee meetings, should inform the Committee Whip. An apology should be submitted by the member that was unable to attend a meeting to the Committee Secretary before the commencement of the meeting. The apology received would be noted in the meeting. All meetings of Committees were open to the public, including journalists.

The seating arrangement at meetings provided that a Chairperson should have a separate seat to the rest of the members of a committee. The Chairperson’s seat should preferably face the door of the venue so that the Chairperson could see who joined or left the meeting. It also allowed the Chairperson to acknowledge guests and ministers who arrived whilst a meeting was in progress. The Committee Secretary should be seated to the right of the Chairperson. The Committee Whip should ideally be seated to the right of the Committee Secretary but it was not always possible due to the way in which committee meeting venues were designed.

The Constitution guaranteed everyone the right to speak in the language of their choice in parliament. Members spoke in the language of their choice during house debates. This should also be applicable at committee level but was unfortunately not the case as parliament lacked the capacity to provide interpretation for all committees. The accepted practice was that members spoke English in committee meetings.

Refreshments that committees were allowed to order were tea, coffee and water. Lunch was only provided for a committee if the meeting was to proceed into the afternoon. The lunches provided were in the form of light finger lunches. Parliament had stopped providing sit down lunches at the four restaurants as it had lacked the capacity to provide sit down lunches for the more than 40 parliamentary committees. It was the duty of the Committee Assistant to arrange refreshments.

Select Committee on Education and Recreation Programme
The Chairperson took the Committee through the Programme page by page.

The Programme was adopted meeting without amendments.

The Committee adopted the minutes of the 16 July 2014 meeting without amendments.

At this point in time the Select Committee on Social Services commenced its meeting to deal with outstanding matters.

Select Committee on Social Services Programme
The Chairperson of the Select Committee on Social Services, Ms L Dlamini, felt that the Committee could not do justice to its work as there was only four minutes left within which to do it. She suggested that the Committee reschedule the meeting for the following week.

Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) said that the Committee only needed to adopt minutes and its Committee Programme. It could be done in the present meeting as it would only take but a few minutes of members’ time.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 8 and 15 July 2014 meetings without amendments.

The Select Committee on Social Services Programme was adopted meeting without amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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