The Portfolio Committee met to consider minutes, the draft programme of the Committee and prepare for the strategic planning session. They firstly adopted the minutes of 8 July 2014, subject to some technical changes. An extensive discussion was held on the matters arising, and how to handle them in future. It was agreed that further information had been requested from the State Diamond Trader, as reflected in the minutes, but Members indicated that they were not happy with what had been sent through, and the Chairperson took responsibility for requesting more specific information from that body and the Department of Mineral Resources. It was suggested by Members that it might be useful, in future, to have someone introducing agenda items and giving background on them, and that it would be useful for a Departmental representative to be present to explain and field further questions on information sent through to the Committee. No final decision was taken on these points.
The draft programme was tabled, and explained by the Committee Secretary. Activities named in the programme included a Mining Lekgotla, briefings by the Department of Mineral Resources on the Mining Charter and how it was monitored, on shale gas, and progress in derelict and ownerless mines. Further briefings had also been arranged from the liquidators of the Pamodzi liquidation, by traditional leaders and municipality on Ikhwezi Quarry in Libode and compliance. The Committee planned a strategic planning session over the weekend of 28 and 29 August, but the Chairperson thought it would be better to move it to 22 August. Members noted that they must try to fit in oversight visits, and the Chairperson asked that Members consider and come up with suggestions on what the Committee must prioritise, and what it could usefully do on oversight, given the limited time and budget. It was important for the Committee to meet with as many stakeholders as possible. Wherever possible it would try to meet with employer or employee representatives, but anyone not affiliated would not be ignored.
Substantial discussion was held on the mining Lekgotla. The EFF Member questioned where the invitation emanated, saying that he would have a problem if it came from National Union of Mineworkers, but other Members indicated that, firstly, there was some uncertainty as to whether a delegation from the Committee would be permitted by the House Chairperson to attend, given the plenary sessions in Parliament on the same date, and secondly, pointed out that any MPs attending would be doing so as Committee Members, not party representatives. The Committee Secretary would still apply for permission to attend.
Committee Minute adoption
Minutes 8 July 2014
Members went through the minutes of 8 July, and suggested a technical change to the word “later” to give a correct reflection of what was decided.
It was noted that the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) would submit the information requested from Members, as there had been commitments made. He noted that there was a request for further information around the issue of the allocation policy from the State Diamond Trader, and the information had been submitted. He asked if Members were satisfied with it.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) said the information submitted from the State Diamond Trader had been submitted but it was unsatisfactory.
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) said it would be proper for the committee to look at what had been submitted, then discuss whether that was correct, and then also discuss the merits of the information submitted to check whether it met the Committee’s expectations.
Mr J Malema (EFF) agreed with Nkosi Mandela. He suggested that perhaps it would be useful to firstly confirm the correctness of and adopt the minutes, then revert to the issues arising.
Members agreed, and adopted the minutes, as amended.
Matters arising from Minutes of 2, 8 and 9 July
Mr Malema then proposed that the Committee discuss any matters arising, following on the comments from Mr Lorimer.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) suggested that Members refresh their memory on the resolutions taken, then look at the documents submitted.
Mr Malema agreed, saying that there was a need to ensure that relevant documents reached the Members prior to the meeting.
The Chairperson said the information was submitted as a result of the Members’ resolution at the meeting. If information had been requested and was submitted, then any Member may raise issues on it. He asked Members to consider the report, and check whether it was sufficient, as well as to consider whether any other item should have been reflected as a resolution.
The Chairperson asked the Secretary to confirm whether, in respect of the minutes of 2 July 2014, the requested information on the bursaries and customer base had been submitted as requested. He reminded Members that information should be submitted prior to the meeting, and that apologies must be recorded.
The Committee Secretary confirmed that the information was submitted in respect of the 2 July meeting.
Reverting to the resolutions recorded for the minutes of 8 July, Ms Mafolo pointed to resolution 5.2, which spoke of the relationship with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and noted that the Committee needed to get information from the Department.
In regard to the minutes of 9 July, Mr Lorimer noted that although no resolutions were specifically recorded, there were concerns raised by Members. He thus proposed that the Committee make a specific request to the entities to submit certain information.
The Chairperson said that issue could be raised as a matter arising and the Committee must deal with every piece of information submitted from the Department and entities.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee should together consider the summary of reporting with the information submitted. He suggested that the Committee start on the point raised by Mr Lorimer. The committee should not go into the points on the discussion, but merely check to see what was submitted, and if it was sufficient. He clarified that “not completed” meant that the information was not submitted.
In this regard, the Chairperson said that he could write to the Department. The Committee must consider what to do with the information submitted. He suggested that the Committee agree on a format how to deal with the information, which should be submitted to Members by the Committee Secretary, once received.
The Chairperson asked Members to deal with the information relating to the State Diamond Trader.
Adv H Schmidt (DA) said he did not have a copy of the allocation policy and asked for clarity whether other Members thought the information was sufficient. He commented that the information – particularly where it spoke to ‘large and medium size beneficiation’ – was very broad. He would like to see more detail to check what kind of beneficiation was being done, and how the State Diamond Trader (STD) was allocating diamonds.
Mr Lorimer said the resolutions recorded in the minutes did not specify the names of the customers to whom the STD was selling diamonds, and there was no copy of the allocation policy.
The Chairperson said the Committee would now request the allocation policy, and ask that there be full compliance in giving information about the names of the customers, amongst other things.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) said the Committee needed the information requested and it was not correct for it to be expected to discuss information that was not sufficient. He requested that the Committee make a proper check of the information, to ensure that it was sufficient, to allow the Committee to apply its mandate when the information was available.
The Chairperson confirmed that Members would do this, once the information was made available to the Members.
The Chairperson noted that nothing had been raised in relation to the report from the Office of the Minister, so he assumed that Members accepted the information submitted.
Mr Malema said that when information was provided to the Committee, it would be useful if Members could be reminded what information had been given, what the intention behind this was, and enable someone to “own” that information. Record should help Members to recall what information they had requested, and in what context.
The Chairperson agreed, but said that the main point was not that someone must “own” the information, but that the full Committee must decide how to process it. He reiterated that Members must check if it was what had been requested.
Mr Malema said the Committee was faced with many things, and suggested that the Parliamentary Support Staff should be able to assist the Chairperson, to enable a proper lead on the issues. He suggested that the Chairperson and Committee Secretary talk “on the spirit of the meeting” to guide the Members.
The Chairperson said there was a specific purpose of requesting further information, such as the case of the STD, where client names had been requested. He suggested that the Committee Secretary and Researcher, in consultation with the Chairperson, should combine the reports and send the Committee to the Members, prior to the meeting, so they were prepared on it, and Members could also forward suggestions and other information, so that it was available by the time the Committee was discussing the strategic plans.
The Chairperson said that there did not seem to be any issue with Mintek.
Mr Malema said that he thought it would be useful, when preparing for a meeting if the agenda was sent to the Committee Members setting out the items to be discussed. A background should be provided, and one Member could take it upon himself or herself to “own” each issue, in the sense of being able to provide some background, particularly on what might have happened in the previous Parliament. This would help Members to follow up on issues.
Nkosi Mandela commented that, in relation to the bursary, there was an indication that funds were sent to young people. He wanted a list, to get an understanding of the number of youth supported, where they were studying, and the strategy of the entities in ensuring that there were work opportunities. It helped the Committee to speak about the work done by the Department and how it had impacted on young people in South Africa.
Mr Pikinini suggested that Members should request this information from the Department, then process it and ask the Department to return and present in another meeting.
The Chairperson said the Committee should compile a list of information, including outstanding queries, and forward it to Member. He took responsibility for the follow up on the outstanding information, including the instances where there had not been full compliance by the STD. In future, he suggested also that the Committee should highlight the reasons why certain information was needed.
Mr Malema said it would be helpful for the Department to have even one person at the meetings to come and explain the information; for instance on the bursaries, so that any follow-up questions by Members could also be answered.
Committee Strategic Plan
The Chairperson tabled the proposed programme for the Committee. He noted that the programme was full, but there was a proposal for the Committee to take a strategic planning session from 29 to 31 August.
Mr Malema suggested there should be no tampering with the dates and times.
The Chairperson confirmed that the dates were fine, having been approved by the House Chair, and that the draft programme also catered for constituency work. He asked the Committee Secretary to explain the draft programme to the Members.
The Committee Secretary explained that the programme was based on the focus areas received from the House Chairperson. The Committee had six meetings in Parliament, and the strategic planning session was arranged from 29 to 31 August. This is over a weekend, as the Parliamentary programme showed plenaries, and it may be difficult for the Committee to have its planning session during the week. The proposed days for this, however, needed to go back to the House for approval.
The Committee Secretary said that the Committee had been allocated dates only on Wednesdays, due to the clashing of times of other committees. However, if there was more work that needed to be done, the Committee could apply for another time.
The following dates were highlighted:
- 14 August 2014: Debate on Women’s Day. Members needed permission to go for the Mining Lekgotla
- 20 August 2014: Department of Mineral Resources’ briefing on the Mining Charter, and how it was monitored.
- 27 August 2014: briefing by the liquidators of Pamodzi. The Committee was to decide on the agenda items
- 10 September 2014: briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources, traditional leaders and municipality on Ikhwezi Quarry in Libode, and civil and general compliance. Members would get more information on that closer to the time.
- 17 September 2014: briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources on the progress in dealing with derelict and ownerless mines.
There was not much time for oversight unless Parliament’s programme changed.
Mr Lorimer said the programme seemed to be fine. He wondered if Members would get an invitation to the Mining Lekgotla, and if Parliament would fund Members to attend.
The Committee Secretary responded that there was a VIP invitation and Members could attend. Parliament had to fund the accommodation. She would forward specific invitations for Members to them.
Mr Malema asked who were the organisers of the Mining Lekgotla, and if this was not more about business making money.
The Chairperson cautioned that the Committee may not be granted permission to attend this, given the fact that as MPs they had a responsibility also to attend the plenary on the same date as the Mining Lekgotla. Parties might grant approval to their party members to attend, but Parliament needed to approve, and that item was subject to approval from the House.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee needed to give consideration to matters such as shale gas and the Mining Charter. He did not remember the Committee agreeing to meet with stakeholders, but noted that, when making decisions, the Committee should look at the implications as part of the oversight responsibility. He said that the Committee should try to get out “into the field”.
The Committee Secretary answered Mr Malema that the invitation to the Lekgotla had been addressed to the Committee by “Nazia”, but essentially this was a joint effort of the Chamber of Mines, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Department of Mineral Resources.
Mr Malema said it was not clear who was inviting Members, and stressed that he needed this information because some meetings were organised by private people with an aim of generating money, where no concrete resolutions with serious implications would be taken. He would not want to find himself being involved in these.
Nkosi Mandela repeated that the invitation came from the Department of Mineral Resources, Chamber of Mines and NUM, and there should be a coordinator for the event. The Committee should ask the Secretary to make an application to Parliament for attendance by some Members, but he also thought that the Committee was unlikely to get permission, as it clashed with the plenary.
Mr Malema insisted on getting clarity and said he did not want to find himself in a meeting of NUM where Members might be ill-treated, without knowing exactly where the invitation emanated. The Mining Charter must be given priority. The Committee had to visit the ex-miners from the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape to hear if their problems had been resolved. The Committee must include this in the programme, as Members also represented miners, and had not yet heard first-hand information from these people.
Adv Schmidt supported the concept of the Committee not being “a boardroom committee”. He made the point that any information given or presentations made passed through the Minister’s Office, and the Committee should go out and visit the places, to pick up independent information and form an independent view on issues, thus enabling Members to exercise proper oversight over the Department and the Minister’s Office.
Nkosi Mandela said that in this case, the programme needed to be reconsidered, to see how Members could move away from the boardroom and engage with stakeholders. The Committee should, he suggested, slot in sessions with various stakeholders to receive information on their concerns, to enlighten the Committee during public hearings and listen to various entities. He moved a motion that the Committee should also ask the Chamber of Mines and similar stakeholders to present in Parliament.
Nkosi Mandela suggested that the Committee Secretary should highlight some issues that could be covered in oversight. He suggested that the Committee could usefully engage with the Royal Bafokeng and NUM, on the agreement on housing for mine workers, and see how it would impact on the platinum belt sector, and how the Committee could ensure that ground was gained. The Committee should also engage with AngloPlats on the sale of its mine shafts, the motivation, and if this was likely to contribute the instability of the platinum belt area. Various institutions needed, post-Marikana, to go into the area and engage with miners at a personal level and bring reconciliation. He had already engaged with traditional leaders to help bring more humanitarian efforts, like provision of blankets and food parcels to the affected families. The Committee should look into that and work with those other stakeholders. The Committee had a limited budget and should fully utilise it when going on oversight, bearing in mind that it might not be able to spread throughout the country, but trying to get as broad an outlook as possible.
Ms N Mdaka (ANC) agreed with Nkosi Mandela. She was concerned about Mr Malema’s statement that some Members may not want to be invited by NUM members, which she thought unnecessary politicisation. Members would be attending as a single body – the Committee – not as different party representatives. The Committee should not refuse to attend because of the body inviting, and whilst she agreed that individual members should not be harassed, she did believe that Members should attend if possible.
Mr Pikinini also gave his support to the programme, saying that the Committee would be meeting critical stakeholders to get the right information. He urged that the Committee prioritise carefully, as the timing was tight.
The Chairperson suggested to Members that there must be prioritization of items. The Mining Charter and shale gas were particularly important.
The Chairperson thought, on consideration, that it would not be helpful to have the strategic planning session in the middle of other matters, and thought it should start from Friday 22 August. Commenting on the Lekgotla, he made the point that the NUM had always been the dominant union in the mining sector, which explained the historic reasons behind the arrangements between NUM, the Chamber of Mines and the DMR, but this did not imply that only those entities would be involved. The Lekgotla accommodated all partners, and the Committee should remain as objective as possible. There were about four chambers in the mining industry, but the Committee should deal with them as one “employer” component. Some did not belong to a federation, but the Committee should be prepared to hear from them if they requested an audience.
He asked that, by the time of the strategic session, Members should be prepared to suggest and agree upon priorities. Equally, given the challenges of time and logistics in arranging oversight visits, Members should prioritise oversight visits and the number of such visits needed. Oversight had been done in the Eastern Cape recently, and whilst there might be some outstanding issues there, the Committee should try to visit different areas. He reiterated that the Committee would make an application for Members to attend the Lekgotla, and other applications to meet with stakeholders, to get a sense of their expectations. If the Committee met with some employer bodies, it should meet with all, and the Committee should not be pulled into issues of their own internal strained relationships with each other.
Mr Malema agreed, but said he was still worried about too much emphasis on NUM. No mention had been made, for instance, of the AMCU, which was a major player in the platinum belt, but the Chairperson has addressed his concerns. He agreed that the Committee should not be partisan, although he quipped that on his own, he would still not attend an “exclusive meeting of NUM”, but would have no problem about attending one with other collective stakeholders. He noted that, in relation to the Eastern Cape, the Committee should not be told of high volumes of work (sic).
Ms Mafolo said the Committee should focus on the agenda and the programme, to allow all Members to work well as MPs serving all South Africans.
Ms Mdaka added that it was important for all Members’ inputs to be listened to well, to engender good spirit.
The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee needed to consider how it would work. He asked Members to bear in mind the potential of job losses, especially if mine shafts were closed. He suggested that Members were set to return on 12 August, that 15 August was tentatively set aside for stakeholder meetings, and reiterated that Members should be prepared to make suggestions on prioritisation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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