The Committee was supposed to get a briefing from the Department of Environmental Affairs on its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan (APP). Members expressed their disappointed in the absence of the Deputy Minister and the Director-General. It was noted that the Minister had not been appeared before the Committee for a whole year. The Committee had a closed session to discuss this issue and decided that the meeting could not continue in the absence of the accounting officers. Members noted that it was a harsh decision but stated that the Committee had been complacent and needed to take a stance in light of the recurring behaviours of accounting officers.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and asked everybody to introduce themselves.
The Acting Director-General, Mr Ishaam Agader, offered apologies on behalf of the Director-General who was currently on study leave and the rest of the delegation introduced themselves. The Minister was abroad and there was no official apology from the Deputy Minister.
The Chairperson said the meeting started on a disappointing note, but the meeting had to be taken seriously nonetheless, because there was an upcoming Budget Vote debate. It was important that if the Minister was not able to attend, the Deputy should attend on behalf of the Ministry. The Director-General should also be part of this meeting.
The Chairperson moved for the adoption of the agenda.
Ms C Labuschagne (DA, Western Cape) said the Minister had not been to any Committee meeting for a whole year. This Committee presented both provinces and political parties and this Committee should take a serious decision on this, because it was not convention that a department reported without the political heads, especially on a Budget vote. The Minister would then take part in the debate in the House and it was unacceptable and should also not be accepted in future.
Mr C Smit (DA, Limpopo) proposed an in-house meeting to discuss this matter.
Ms E Prins (ANC, Western Cape) said the comments of members were noted, but if there was no further input on the matter, she proposed the adoption of Minutes dated 21 April 2015.
The Minutes of 21 April 2015 was adopted without amendments.
The Chairperson proposed that the meeting continue and the Committee have a closed session after the presentation by the Department.
Mr Smit said the Committee was being very complacent in allowing this to continuously happen and should take a stance. He proposed that the Committee have a five minute closed session, because it should not be discussed in front of the officials.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC, Mpumalanga) supported the proposal to excuse the Department and deal with the concern raised by members.
The Chairperson asked the officials to try and get hold of the Deputy Minister whilst the Committee discussed the issue.
The Committee had a closed 20 minute in-house discussion.
The Chairperson confirmed that officials did not succeed in getting hold of the Deputy Minister. This was recurring behaviour that undermined the work of this Committee. The meeting could not continue in the absence of the accounting officers. It was a harsh decision, because the Committee acknowledged that some officials had flown in to attend the meeting, but a decision had to be taken.
The meeting was adjourned.
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