Committee Strategic Planning; Media Development and Diversity Agency Board Vacancy: discussion; Budget Review and Recommendations Report: deferred

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Communications

28 October 2014
Chairperson: Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson proposed an adjustment to the agenda of the meeting to: adoption of minutes; adoption of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report 2012/2013 (BRRR); discussions on the Committee Strategic Planning 2014 – 2019 and Annual Performance Plan 2014 – 2015; and then discussions on the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Board Vacancy. She also proposed an hour break for Members to go through the BRRR report before deliberating on it.

A member from the opposition objected strongly to the proposal; an hour would not be adequate for members to effectively apply their minds to the document. At least 24hours would be needed for such a task.

The Chairperson agreed that the document should have been circulated last week but the Committee programme had been very hectic. She appealed that members be flexible to allow the work of the Committee to go on smoothly as there were other tasks that needed the attention of members and the deadline for the reports to Parliament must be put into cognisance.

The member of the opposition emphasised that though he agreed that the past couple of weeks had been hectic, it was the members’ responsibility to scrutinise public reports and scrutinising the 50-page document that had just been received could not be effectively carried out in an hour. He strongly objected.

The Chairperson clarified that the hard copy of the document had just been distributed but the soft copy had been emailed to members the previous afternoon, which was corroborated by the Committee Secretary and the Content Advisor. The opposition member interjected that he and his partner from the Democratic Alliance had not received any such document.

An intense argument ensued on the issue. The Chairperson felt that such administrative issues should not be dealt with at the Committee meeting but the opposition member was unrelenting. He had raised the issue in the past where he alleged that there was an email list for ANC members and a separate email list for opposition parties and as a result, different parties on the same committee would get different emails. He understood that had been rectified but it seemed to be reoccurring now.

The Chairperson replied that she was not comfortable with that as there was no such thing and such remark must not be blown out of proportion.

The Committee Secretary indicated that he had sent the emails at 4.43pm the previous day to all members of the Committee but they were sent to the parliamentary email addresses instead of the private email addresses of members and copied to heir Personal Assistants.

Another intense argument ensued.

The Chairperson interrupted and categorically stated that these were administrative issues that would be dealt with and Committee meetings were not meant to raise such issues. It was also clearly unfair for allegations to be made that there were factions in the Committee based on party membership.

Another member said that the meeting should not be held up as a result of this.  He proposed that the document should be partially discussed with inputs from members that had gone through the document and others could go through the document and bring their inputs when the meeting reconvened the next day, to which the opposition member disagreed. He said there was a need for deliberation by the members on the report. It was inappropriate that members that had received the document on time would engage on the report today and the others would wait till the next day to give their input. It was not about inputs, as written responses would have sufficed, it was about deliberations among the members and reaching a collective opinion.

The Chairperson accepted the proposal made by the opposition member. An appropriate date would be fixed to deliberate on the BRRR and communicated to members.
 
The Chairperson named the members on the representation list that would be sitting for the shortlist and the interview: Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC) – Chairperson; Mr M Kalako (ANC), Mr R Tseli (ANC), Mr N Ndongeni (ANC), Mr G Davies (DA), Mr M Ndlozi (EFF), and Mr M Madisha (COPE).

A member raised concerns around the appointment of Mr Jimmy Manyi, an MDDA Board Member as a Special Adviser to the Minister. This appointment would obviously be in conflict of interest since the MDDA was an independent body that needed to operate at arm’s length to the Minister. He therefore should be disqualified from retaining the membership of the board. He wanted to ascertain the stance of the Committee on the matter. The Chairperson replied that it was true that Mr Manyi had been pronounced as the Special Adviser to the Minster, therefore it automatically meant that there was a vacancy of his portfolio.

The Content Adviser to the Committee outlined the Strategic Plan to the members. There were four main programmes on the strategic plan.
- Administration, which looked at the internal affairs of the Committee; 6 strategic objectives had been aligned to it.
- The impact of the Legislative, Policy and Regulatory Environment; two strategic objectives aligned to it.
- Committee Outreach and Oversight Functions, which had three strategic objectives aligned to it, and
- International Treaties with one strategic objective aligned to it.

The committee would proceed with the short listing and interviewing process of the MDDA Board in a closed meeting.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed members to the meeting whilst informing them of the proposed changes to the agenda. The agenda would be: adoption of minutes, adoption of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report 2012/2013 (BRRR), discussions on the Committee Strategic Planning 2014 – 2019 and Annual Performance Plan 2014 – 2015, discussions on the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Board Vacancy. The Strategic Plan would not be fully discussed but just outlined, as most of the time would be spent of the BRRR.
She reminded members about the commencement of the process of interviews of the MDDA board which was raised at the last meeting. She proposed that first the minutes be adopted by the Committee, then discussion and finalisation on the MDDA vacancies, and lastly adoption of the BRRR. Based on the busy schedule of the Committee, there was insufficient time to deal with the report but as members were given a presentation the previous week that touched on the salient features within the report, she proposed that members be allowed an hour break to go through the report and afterwards reconvene to deliberate on it.

Mr G Davies (DA) objected to the proposal. In his opinion, an hour would not be adequate for members to effectively apply their minds to the document; at least 24hours would be needed for such a task.

The Chairperson reiterated that since the members had gone through the outline of the report the previous week and no major issues were raised, one hour should be sufficient. The document should have been circulated the previous week but the Committee programme had been very hectic. One of the causes for the delay in the circulation of the report was that for the latter part of the previous week discussions were held with the state legal advisors to deal with the matter and there had been huge documentation to sort out. She appealed that members be flexible to allow the work of the Committee go on smoothly as there were other tasks that equally needed the attention of the members and the deadline for the reports to the Parliament must be put into cognisance.

Mr R Tseli (ANC) was of the opinion that the committee should proceed with discussions on the BRRR report. He was concerned that if the deliberations on the report were postponed, the Committee may not have sufficient members available to deal with the issues, as some of its members would be engaged in other committees.

Mr Davies strongly objected to the proposal to go through the document in an hour. He agreed that the past couple of weeks had been hectic but it was the members’ responsibility to scrutinise public reports and scrutinising the 50-page document that had just been received could not be effectively carried out in an hour. It was not possible that any member could effectively apply their mind to the technical document in an hour and decide whether to approve or reject it. He reiterated that the DA seriously objected to that.

The Chairperson clarified that the document was not a public document but a Committee document. The hard copy of the document had just been distributed but the soft copy had been emailed to members the previous afternoon, as corroborated by the Committee Secretary and the Content Adviser.

Mr Davies interjected that members that had received the document yesterday should indicate as he and his partner from the Democratic Alliance had not received the document.

Mr M Kalako (ANC) confirmed that he had received the document in his mail the previous afternoon.  However he agreed with Mr Davies that it would be difficult to go through the document in an hour although the issues raised in the document were familiar issues. However, the time frame for the submission of the report should be taken into consideration as that could assist the Committee in making an informed decision on the next line of action. 
    
The Chairperson agreed that other issues would be considered and the report would be deferred till the following day, even if for an hour so as to deliberate on the report and finalise it.

Mr Davies expressed his displeasure that having gone through his emails, he confirmed that he did not receive the document and had a greater objection, as it seemed that some members of the Committee were receiving documents and the opposition party not. 

An intense argument ensued on the issue. The Chairperson felt that such administrative issues should not be dealt with at the Committee meeting but Mr Davies was insistent on voicing his displeasure.

Mr Davies recalled that he had raised the issue in the past where he alleged that there was an email list for ANC members and a separate list for the opposition parties, and as a result different parties on the same committee would get different emails. He believed that had been rectified but could not understand why it was reoccurring. He reiterated that he did not receive the email sent yesterday and would like the Committee Secretary to confirm whether all the opposition members were on the email list sent the previous day.     

The Chairperson replied that she was not comfortable with the implication that there was an agenda in the Committee as there was no such thing. Such remark must not be blown out of proportion.

The Committee Secretary replied that he had sent the emails at 4.43pm the previous day to all members of the Committee. Because of the earlier complaints made by Mr Davies suggesting that there seemed to be a separate distribution list for ANC members and another list for the opposition members, he had developed another mailing list where he used only the parliamentary email addresses instead of the private email addresses of members. He therefore sent the emails to the members’ Parliamentary addresses and copied to their Personal Assistants. He showed Mr Davies the emails sent that included his Parliamentary email address and that of Ms Van Dyk (DA).

Ms Van Dyk informed the Committee that she did not use the parliamentary email and used her private Gmail address, so could not have received the mail.

Another intense argument ensued.

The Chairperson interrupted and categorically stated that these were administrative issues that would be dealt with and Committee meetings were not meant to raise these kinds of issues. It was also clearly unfair for allegations to be made that there were factions in the Committee based on party membership.

Mr Tseli echoed that these were administrative issues that should be dealt with by the secretary and the meeting should not be held up as a result of this.  He proposed that the document be partially discussed today with inputs from members that had gone through the document and others could go through the document and bring their inputs when the meeting reconvened the next day. It was essential to move on because the meeting the following day may not meet the required quorum because of other committee meetings that members may have to attend to.

Mr Davies disagreed with Mr Tseli’s view. There was a need for deliberation by the members on the report. It was inappropriate that members that had received the document on time would engage on the report today and the others would wait till the next day to give their input. This issue was not about inputs because if it were, then there would have been no need for Committee meetings, written inputs and responses would have sufficed. It was about deliberations among the members and reaching a collective view.

The Chairperson accepted Mr Davies’ view and would look for an appropriate date to deliberate on the BRRR. She asked the Committee Secretary to establish the date for submission of the report to Parliament so that the deadline was not missed.

Discussion on the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) Board Vacancy
The Chairperson reiterated that the BRRR had been deferred and the date of the meeting would be communicated to members. She named members that were on the representation list that would be sitting for the shortlist and the interview. These members were to get back to the Committee after reaching a consensus:
Ms J Moloi-Moropa (ANC) - Chairperson
Mr M Kalako (ANC)
Mr R Tseli (ANC)
Mr D Kekana (ANC)
Mr G Davies (DA)
Mr M Ndlozi (EFF)
Mr M Madisha (COPE)
The Committee would be a subcommittee of the Portfolio Committee on Communications.

Mr Davies raised concerns around the MDDA Board Vacancy. It had come to his attention through the media that Mr Jimmy Manyi, who was an MDDA Board Member, had been appointed as a Special Advisor to the Minister. This appointment would obviously be in conflict of interest since the MDDA was an independent body that needed to operate at arm’s length to the Minister. He therefore should be disqualified from retaining the membership of the board. He wanted to ascertain the stance of the Committee on the matter and what would be done about it. The Committee had been empowered in terms of the MDDA Act to initiate proceedings to remove a board member if they were disqualified for any reason. 

The Chairperson replied that it was true that Mr Manyi had been pronounced as the Special Advisor to the Minister; therefore it automatically meant that there was a vacancy of his portfolio.

Mr Davies wanted to know when he was appointed as the Special Advisor and whether the appointment taken effect already? If it had, then he has to resign immediately otherwise the Committee must act very quickly to avoid a conflict of interest.

The Chairperson responded that he was pronounced as the Special Advisor in the last meeting and the Minister had engaged with her that he would not be a board member anymore. There would obviously be a communication that would come through the Speaker’s Office, which could have already been done. It was a straightforward issue. She could also raise it at the meeting with the speaker that afternoon and would not mind bringing feedback to the Committee on the issue.

Discussion on the Committee Strategic Planning 2014 – 2019 and Annual Performance Plan 2014 – 2015
Mr Mbo Maleke, Content Advisor, presented an outline of the Strategic Plan of the Committee. He reminded members of previous discussions held on the Strategic plan and the plan to include a third day to the workshop to discuss the broader implications of the strategic plan to the annual performance plan. The purpose of the presentation therefore was to give navigation to the document. Members would have to engage with the document prior to the third day workshop to discuss the actual dates in relation to the Annual Performance Plans (APPs). There were four main programmes on the strategic plan:
- Administration, which looked at the internal affairs of the Committee and 6 strategic objectives had been aligned to it.
- Legislative, Policy and Regulatory Environment had two strategic objectives aligned to it.
- Committee Outreach and Oversight Functions had three strategic objectives aligned to it
- International Treaties with just one strategic objective aligned to it.

He explained briefly how the document could be read and understood by the members. The draft document would be printed and placed in members’ pigeon holes also forwarded to them via email before the end of business today.

The Chairperson clarified that it was Ms Ndongeni that should be part of the short listing and interviewing Committee and not Mr Kekana as earlier mentioned.

Adoption of Minutes
Minutes of 21 October 2014:  Members were aware that the MDDA was presently being tabled and attended to internally by Parliament. The Chairperson would be meeting with the Speaker that afternoon on a number of issues, which included the MDDA, and she would be guided by the Speaker’s office on the way forward. She would give the Committee feedback on her deliberations with the Speaker.
The minutes were adopted with no corrections.

Minutes of Committee meeting held on 22 October 2014 were adopted with no corrections.

Minutes of Committee meeting held on 23 October 2014 were adopted without amendments.

In the absence of any other issues raised, the committee proceeded with the short listing and interviewing process of the MDDA Board, which was a closed meeting.

The first part of the meeting, which was made public, was adjourned.
 

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