The Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans met to discuss and adapt their draft minutes from 2014, and Members were also asked to consider and adopt the Committee's programme, strategic plan. However, the meeting became bogged down in a discussion of the current agenda, linked to whether correspondence sent by a DA Member to the Chairperson suggesting changes to the programme could be brought forward and discussed at this meeting or not. It was eventually conceded that any correspondence sent to the Chairperson should be made known to other Members. In answer to a question the Chairperson commented that the management of the Committee would be discussed at a subsequent meeting. The meeting became rather more heated when one Member expressed the opinion that the way the meeting proceeded was "a joke" and the Chairperson commented that he would be referring the matter to the DA's Chief Whip.
One DA Member objected to the adoption of the Committee's strategic plan, because the DA was not represented at the workshop, but the point was made that each party would be bound by the general consensus of the meeting. Points specifically highlighted, both in discussion on this plan and in a later comment about invitations to the Committee, were that there should be regular communication, interface and opportunities to attend Departmental events and armed forces displays and days, and that the Department should be urged to give full feedback to the Committee on outstanding issues and questions previously raised.
Minutes from meetings in October and November were adopted, subject to some technical corrections and the insertion of discussions into the minutes of 22 October.
Committee business: Strategic plan, minutes, programme, procedures
The Chairperson welcomed all members of the Committee, and detailed what the meeting was hoping to achieve.
Mr D Maynier (DA) said that there was some talk about the management team of the Committee, and he asked who was in this Committee and when it would meet.
The Chairperson stated that this issue of management would be dealt with in the next meeting. He asked that today, Members focus on the other business in the agenda.
Mr Maynier then turned to the programme. He noted that on 11 September 2014, he set out an amendment to this current programme, but the document was not tabled, and he requested that it be tabled, so that the Committee could immediately deal with the document.
The Chairperson said that the draft programme had been drawn and sent to everyone for input on the programme. There appeared to be a missing link as to when the amendments were made.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) indicated to the Chairperson that he must bring the amendment document to the Committee. However, for the moment, he suggested that the Committee move on.
Mr B Bongo (ANC )said that the amendments were for consideration by the Committee, and suggested that if they had not been seen by the Chairperson, they should not be discussed now.
Mr Booi stated that any new issue coming on the agenda must go to the Chairperson in advance. The right process should be followed and encouraged. This was not the forum to finalise the programme of the Committee, but rather it was to fix any inconsistencies.
The Chairperson proposed that there should be no new items on the agenda, there was already a discussion about the submissions of amendments and then going forward with that in the draft of the programme.
Mr Maynier said if documents are submitted to the Chairperson, the Chairperson had the responsibility to distribute them to Committee members, and that included recommendations on the amendments.
Mr Bongo said there was one programme here and any additions must be added in, but other contributions must go to the office of the Chairperson and then later to the members. There must be no separate discussion on amendments.
The Chairperson stressed what should be amended were the documents already on the programme for today's meeting.
Mr Skosana agreed that the document presented by Mr Maynier was a discussion document that needed an engagement. He suggested that the Members must concentrate on aligning with the strategic plan for the Committee.
Mr Booi indicated that everything that had to do with the Committee must be discussed through the Chairperson. There should be emphasis on the issues of the Committee rather than those of party interest. The Chairperson must be the one who decided on tabling amendments. The Chairperson would in turn present these issues in the Committee.
Mr S Esau (DA) said there was no dispute on the views of the members. Defence was a serious mandate and the Committee Members must focus on that. The Committee must decide - and the Chair must preside and not dictate - following the rules of the House and the merit of each issues.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) replied there was a need to move on, and suggested that the Members must agree that when the next programme was drawn all comments and inputs must be taken into consideration.
Mr Booi mentioned that this Committee did take decisions by majority, but a presentation to the Committee could be made by any Member. All Members had a long working relationship in this Committee. Everyone should be accommodated. An opportunity to reflect on issues raised must be respected. There must be openness in this Committee.
Mr Maynier replied that he did not quite understand Mr Booi's viewpoint, but agreed that the Chairperson must take a decision.
The Chairperson said that in future, when amendments were delivered to his office, he would communicate with the members and table the amendments to the Committee for their consideration. Amendments were not an alternative programme. It was not possible to call a separate meeting on this matter.
Mr Maynier said that he disagreed with the Chairperson's suggestion on refuting his proposal. It was the duty of this committee to convene hearings dealing with issues of defence. For example, the Department of Defence and the Minister must come and discuss the crisis of health in the military.
Mr Gamede suggested that Members must retain order and asked all Members to be considerate in the language they used, and repeated his plea to move forward.
Mr Skosana agreed with Mr Gamede. This document would be contained in the Annual Report and that would be an appropriate time to discuss it.
Ms N Mnisi (ANC) said she seconded the proposal of Mr Gamede that the Committee should move forward. It was a long document and could not be pushed into this agenda.
The Chairperson said the programme was then regarded as adopted.
Mr Esau suggested that the Committee interrogate the Department on the lateness of their report. They were not coming to brief the Committee, and should alter the terminology used. .The Committee must come fully prepared to interrogate the Department of Defence.
The Chairperson said that the amendment of the programme was what is happening now. However, when the Department briefed the Committee there was always room for interrogating. That was the understanding.
He moved for adoption of the draft agenda.
Members Booi, Bongo and Mnisi indicated their approval. Mr Maynier objected because the document was not considered by the Chairperson at all.
Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson asked Members to consider the adoption of the draft minutes.
Mr Maynier commented at this point that "this committee is a joke, not in the interest of the Constitution, nor the people of South Africa".
Mr Bongo asked that the Chairperson must rule on the comment of Mr Maynier; it was an insult.
Mr Booi said Mr Maynier was disrespectful and did not consider the work of everyone in this Committee. There should be no disregard for the Committee.
Mr Gamede stated that "enough is enough". He expressed concern that there had been no action taken by the Committee on the interactions between Mr Maynier and the media. He had an attitude of not allowing others not to speak.
The Chairperson said that Members of this Committee had a chance to engage each other in this Committee, and called for full respect between them. He asserted that he was going to write to the Chief Whip of the DA about the behavior of Mr Maynier.
The Chairperson drew Members' attention again to the minutes.
14 October 2014
Mr Gamede commented that minutes from the 14th October 2014 had a spelling mistake in page 2.
Mr Gamede proposed that the amendments be numbered.
Members accepted the minutes, with amendments.
15 October 2014
The minutes were adopted without amendments.
22 October 2014
Mr Maynier said that the comments about the military satellite made by the Secretary for Defence were not recorded in the minutes, and that should be done. He suggested that the Committee secretary may wish to listen to the recording, to ensure that the statement was correctly captured.
The minutes were adopted, subject to amendments
29 October 2014
The minutes were adopted, without amendment.
5, 11 and 12 November 2014
The minutes were all adopted, without amendment.
Draft strategic plan
The draft strategic plan was tabled and Mr Gamede suggested its adoption.
Mr Maynier told the Chairperson that the Democratic Alliance objected to the strategic plan because it had not been involved in the drafting process. The DA had been unable to attend the workshop because this would have been wasteful expenditure.
Mr Skosana pointed out that whether or not any individual had been present, all Members of the Committee were bound to a plan adopted by the Committee.
Mr Esau stated the strategic plan was a framework. There must be specific issues that were recorded and must be dealt with. Those specific issues must be addressed, especially developments and planning.
Mr Booi thought that there was some progression and suggested that there must be early engagement so that integration was able to take place. He highlighted the importance of preserving the role of Parliament in oversight.
The Chairperson said he noted the general consensus on this issue within the Committee and said that the strategic plan was adopted.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had been invited to attended the Armed Forces Day
Mr Maynier asked why this letter arrived on 09 February but the Committee was only informed nine days later, making many unable to attend. The Minister had not communicated well and not in time. This was huge disappointment and this matter must be addressed.
The Chairperson stressed to the Committee that it had the capacity to arrange for attendance. The event had not yet taken place. He suggested that any Members who would be able to attend must submit their names to the Committee Secretary.
Mr Booi agreed that proper and timeous correspondence must be ensured, between the Committee and the Department. It was a moral obligation on Members to attend and support their events.
Mr Esau suggested that Members receive a calendar of the annual events of the Department of Defence so that the Committee could also plan in time. The Chairperson must question the Ministry on this issue.
Mr Maynier added that the Committee was not invited to the Air Force event in Pretoria last year, as he was locked out of the event.
The Chairperson indicated that he had spoken to the Minister who had assured him that Members would get all the necessary information and attention.
The meeting was adjourned.
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