The Joint Standing Committee on Defence met for the Consideration of Draft Third Term Committee Programme.
Members deliberated on the programme and agreed it should be revised and presented on 6 November 2014.
The Committee also agreed that it will start the process of the Defence Review on 6 November 2014, and invite the National Treasury to address the Committee on the budget implications of the Defence Review.
The Chairperson welcomed Members and informed the Committee that the purpose of the meeting was to consider the Draft Third Term Committee Programme.
Mr N Booi (ANC) moved for the adoption of the programme.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga) seconded the move.
Mr D Maynier (DA) said he was delighted that the Joint Standing Committee was finally established and shared Mr Booi’s view that the Defence Review was now on the table and the process must get going. But where they disagreed was on the proposed programme because it would be come cause that the Defence Review as the first review of policy in 16 years. The Defence Review had taken 3 years to produce and R11m has been spent producing this document. All Members of the Committee would agree that the Defence Review was going to have profound implications for the Defence Force which according to this report was in a critical state of decline. Therefore, there was not going to be disagreements that this was a very important document and it needed to be comprehensively dealt with by Parliament. Not least because there was a dilemma and the dilemma was that the Defence Review made certain proposals many of which were very exciting and would support.
Mr S Motimele (ANC), the Co-Chairperson raised a point of order noting that the programme had been moved for adoption and was seconded. At that stage they were not in the business of discussing the Defence Review. Procedurally they would look to any objections to the programme.
Mr E Mlambo (ANC, Gauteng), the Chairperson agreed with Mr Motimele that there was a proposal for the adoption of the programme and it was seconded. Mr Maynier had agreed that he did not have a problem and was happy that the issue of the Defence Review was at the top of the agenda. It was in the interest of the country the issue of the Defence Review. Mr Maynier should raise the issues he wanted to raise at a right time when they deliberate on the Defence Review.
Mr Maynier said he understood that the agenda of the meeting was to discuss the programme but the Co-Chairperson interrupted him.
The Chairperson interjected that Mr Maynier was speaking to a programme that had been adopted.
Mr Maynier said there was no quorum and the programme could not be adopted.
Ms Dlamini said Mr Maynier was out of order because he could not raise the issue that there was no quorum yet he had expressed his views on the issue on the very same meeting which he claim there was no quorum. She said Mr Maynier should just object and not raise an issue without objecting to the programme.
Mr Maynier said he would love to raise his objection if Members stopped interrupting him.
The Chairperson said Mr Maynier was out of order and Members were not interrupting him or preventing from speaking but the manner in which he was addressing that meeting was not correct.
Mr Maynier said he was ready to object to the programme stating his reasons if he was allowed to do so. If they looked at the framework of the proposed programme which was divided in an initial briefing, then briefings followed by public hearings and adoption he will more or less support the framework safe for one aspect which would be helpful to the Committee to be briefed by Parliament legal advisers on what its function was in relation to the Defence Review. It will be recalled that in the 4th Democratic Parliament a legal opinion was requested exactly on that matter. Now the Committee may want to discuss that legal opinion or be circulated to the new Members because the Joint Standing Committee on Defence has specific powers and responsibilities in respect of the Defence Review which might be helpful for new and old Members to understand its role.
Mr Maynier said the second suggestion was that he didn’t think the programme was sufficiently comprehensive to deal with the Defence Review as they all agreed it was an important document. He proposed that the programme be amended to deal with the Defence Review in 3 stages. One, they should deal with the Defence Review, two, they deal with the military strategy, and three, they deal with the budget. There were 15 chapters in the Defence Review and would propose that they have one hearing per chapter, which will be 15 hearings. And that they should have 3 hearings to deal with the military strategy and 1 hearing to deal with the budget. That would be a total of 19 hearings which should be scheduled for Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Mr Maynier also suggested that there should be certain documents which were part of the Defence Review which were not finished. Before they begin the following documents should be discovered before they begin the process: The first document is the Military Strategy; the second document is the Defence Force Long Term Capability Strategy; and the third is the Defence Force Capital and Technology Terms, those were referred on page 9 – 32 of the Defence Review; and then the forth document is the Cost Estimate Model which was used by the Defence Review so that they could understand the costs budget.
Mr Maynier said in terms of the last point which was the budget the Committee should be briefed by the National Treasury on the affordability of the Defence Review. If the Defence Review was not affordable over the MTEF, then the question would be what they will do, and the Committee should confront that.
Mr Booi said Mr Maynier had missed an opportunity of the workshop they recently held at passed weekend because many of the things he raised were covered in that workshop. The National Treasury has to be called which they have a common view on that issue. The Minister and the whole command have committed to come and talk to them about the Defence Review.
Mr Booi said the preliminary issue was that they were going to start the process and reflect on the process as it unfolded because what they were partly saying and partly known were the levels of the public hearing and what was done by that Committee which was doing the review. It was within their interests to balance out what was taking place outside and what was going on in Parliament so to see what they could learn from those hearings. It does have some international elements from looking into the review report which has to come up.
Therefore, the Committee should put the Defence Review in front of the Members and start advertising and see what will be the broad response, and if they break it down they should do assessment among themselves to see if ever the 19 chapters they will go through them all or they were in shorter presentations. That detail they should leave it to the Chairpersons, but the process should start and they should do assessment. National Treasury should come because another was to deal with the MTEF which they’ve missed to do a presentation on. They needed to outline the process so that it fitted like glove to the MTEF and quite clearly they needed to re-engage National Treasury so as to deal with the policy document which was in front of them. Mr Maynier should allow the Chairperson to reflect on what they will do and if there were other things the programme will always be in front of them which they will be able to deal with the amendments of the programme itself, but all suggestions should be accommodated. Therefore, they were really on a new party and the policy document for them was very crucial for the Defence Review.
Ms Dlamini said as a matter of process the Committee had adopted the programme and what the Chairpersons will do was to come up with a revised programme not a new programme so that they were clear. Otherwise, if they come up with a new programme it meant that they didn’t adopted that one.
Mr Maynier emphasised that it was not possible for the Committee to adopt the programme because there was no quorum, but they accepted that his proposal were different and they will proceed with the meeting on November 6, 2014 which was an introductory briefing. But in the interim the Chairpersons consider taking advice on the role and functions of the Committee on the procedure to be followed taking together with his proposals on more comprehensive process. Then they will present a revised programme on the 6 November.
The Chairperson said they were in agreement with most of the things and the mandate will be left to the Chairpersons.
Mr S Esau (DA) said there was a directive that was given in terms of the quorum of that Committee from the Speaker via the Rules Committee to look at that issue. He asked what the final number of Members that was agreed upon to constitute that Committee.
The Chairperson said in the previous term 13 was the number and the quorum will be 7.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their contributions.
The meeting was adjourned.
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