National Development Agency Amendment Bill: deliberations

Social Development

23 January 2003
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Meeting report

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 January 2003
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS


Chairperson:
Mr E Saloojee (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National Development Agency Amendment Bill [B 70-2002]
Proposed Amendments to National Development Agency Amendment Bill (Appendix)

SUMMARY
After proceeding through the proposed amendments and its report on the Bill, the Committee approved the National Development Agency Amendment Bill. However the DA registered its reservation and refrained from voting on the Bill. This Bill would be up for debate in the House.

MINUTES
National Development Agency Amendment Bill: Proposed Amendments
The Committee went through the proposed amendments that the Department had prepared and accepted them as they are.

The Chair read the object of the Bill and thereafter went through the Bill, clause by clause.

THE LONG TITLE
The Committee unanimously adopted the long title as amended.

CLAUSE 1
The Committee unanimously adopted Clause 1.

CLAUSE 2
Mr Ngema (IFP) noted that the reduction of the Board's number proposed in Clause 2(a) will seriously affect the powers and duties of the NDA and as such affect its service delivery.

Mr N Clelland-Stokes (DA) noted that the DA would object to the reduction of the Board's number. Further, he requested clarity on why the word "organisations" had been deleted in Clause 2(a)(b) taking into account the fact that the concept "civil society" is a broad concept on its own.

Mr P Du Preez (Senior Legal Advisor: NDSD) replied that the reduction of the Board members in Clause 2(a) was based purely on financial reasons and the Cabinet had also approved such deduction. With regard to the deletion of the word "organisations", he said that the NDA suggested this with the view of involving the public in general, taking into account the fact that not every member of the public is represented by the organisations.

The Chair also noted that the rationale behind the deletion of the word was based on the fact that not all communities had formal group structures, especially in the rural areas.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) questioned the reduction of the Board members on the basis that Clause 2(b) required the panel to be representatives of a broader South African population.

Ms P Coetzee-Casper (ANC) also noted that South Africa had nine provinces and eleven official languages which would be difficult to accommodate if the Board membership was reduced.

The Chair said that one of the obligations of the Board was to see to it that the objects of the Bill were fulfilled.

Mr M da Camara (DA) said that if the Committee accepted that the Board membership be reduced to eleven then seven of the members should come from the civil society and the government should only represented by four members in the Board.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) heavily objected to the reduction of government representation. She said that that would seriously compromise the State involvement in development issue and as such the Clause should stand as it is.

The Chair noted the disagreement between the members with relation to the number of representation that each side should provide. He requested the members to comment on the issue.

Mr Ngema said that the civil society should be given a much high representation number in the Board to show that the government had confidence in the public, especially since this was a development issue.

Mr Clelland-Stokes noted that if changes were made to the Board representation then automatically that would affect the composition of the NDA. Further noted that the independence of the NDA should always be maintained by all means and guard against government usurping of this structure.

Ms Chalmers said that it should be borne in mind that government also had the role to play in developmental issues. Therefore any attempts to reduce its representation would be tantamount to compromising its role in such issues.

Mr A Van Jaarsveld (NNP) said that NNP would not have problem in accepting Clause 2 provided that the quorum, proposed in Clauses 3, would only be said to have been met when three representatives from each side were present in a meeting.

Ms H Lamani vehemently disagreed with the proposal stating that never in any Act of Parliament was there any provision stipulating how the quorum should be composed. Above all the people who would be appointed to serve in the Board would be diligent people who would know exactly what was expected of them ensuring that they were up to the task.

Mr da Camara acknowledged what Ms Lamani said. He, however, noted that if such provision was not inserted the Government may usurp the Board and thereafter exert undesirable influence to the civil society, of which that would be unacceptable.

The Chair noted that there was a disagreement between the members and that they were unwilling to reach consensus. He therefore proposed that the deadlock be broken through a vote.

The ANC and the MF voted in favour of the amendment as proposed in the Bill, while the DA, IFP, NNP and UDM voted against it.

CLAUSE 3
Mr Clelland-Stokes reiterated the argument that the quorum should be said to have been constituted only when three representatives from each side are present.

Prof L Mbadi (UDM) clearly stated that as the crusader of the poorest of the poor he strongly refuted the latter's proposal. He said that if a quorum was not met at a particular meeting and a meeting had to be postponed then that would hinder the programmes of the NDA. Thus if the programmes of the NDA were hindered that would mean that a delivery should be delayed and the poorest of the poor would be most affected by this.

Ms G Smith (DSD) noted that experience was a good teacher. Experience had shown that NDA should be an institution where civil society could participate freely and without any undue influence. Even though the NDA was an independent institution from the government it received some of its funds from government. This, therefore, could send an unintended message to the public if the government representatives were to have an upper hand in the running of the Board.

Ms Coetzee-Casper also reiterated the fact that to all the Bills of Parliament that had been passed since 1994 a quorum was always stated but it had never been stated so prescriptively as it was now proposed.

Ms C Ramotsamai (ANC) drew the members attention to the fact that the Minister of Social Development had always made it his responsibility to ensure that civil societies were involved in any decision making relating the social development issues. He should be commended on that and not be doubt on this issue of the NDA since it was impossible in any development issue to work without the co-operation of civil societies.

The Chair also concurred with the latter speaker. Realising that no consensus could be reached on this matter he proposed that members should vote to break the deadlock.

The ANC, UDM and the MF voted in favour of the amendment as it is and the DA, IFP and NNP voted against the amendment.

The Committee unanimously adopted Clauses 4 and 5. Clause 6 was also unanimously as amended by the proposed amendments.

The Chair read the Committee report and it was adopted. However the DA noted its reservation on the Bill and thus its abstention from voting.

The Chair expressed his frustration on the fact that members could let the discussion go forward without registering their disapproval and only when the Committee was at the point of concluding voice their reservations. He required members to be transparent and open during deliberations so that consensus could be fairly reached.

Meeting was adjourned.

Appendix

AMENDMENTS PROPOSED TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY AMENDMENT BILL

[B7O-2002]

CLAUSE 3
On page 4, after line 26, to insert the following paragraph:
(b) by the addition of the following paragraph:
(9) (a) If, during the course of any proceedings of the Board, there is reason
to believe that a member has any interest contemplated in subsection (8), that member must
immediately fully disclose the nature of his or her interest and leave the meeting in question so as to
enable the remaining members to discuss the matter and determine whether or not that member
should be allowed to participate in the proceedings.
(b) The disclosure, and the decision taken by the remaining members, must be recorded in the minutes of the proceedings in question.

CLAUSE 6
1. On page 6, from line 5, to omit paragraph (b).

LONG TITLE
1. On page 2, in the third line, after "officer", to insert:
"to further regulate meetings of the Board";

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