The Ad Hoc Committee, having been appointed by the National Assembly, elected Mr Cedric Frolick as its chairperson. He suggested the Committee collate its programme but the meeting quickly turned into a debate on who the Committee could call to appear before it.
Some Members of the ruling party pointed out that this Committee formed part of the tail end of a process set up by National Assembly resolution and did not require calling in people other than the author of this Executive report.
All opposition parties present argued that Parliament needed to play its role of accountability as bestowed on it by the Constitution. If Parliament was to keep the Executive accountable, it could not play the game of sending the actions of the Executive to the Executive for it to decide on its accountability. If Parliament was serious about fulfilling its role, the Committee had to call all relevant people. The Committee could not simply deal with the findings of the Police Minister’s Report and ignore that he reported directly to the person that benefited from the upgrades. That was legally and logically at odds with the work of Parliament. It was problematic that the Minister of Police and the previous Ad Hoc Committee, sought to substitute remedial action ordered by the Public Protector with another process.
Other Members of the ruling party suggested that the process at least start with the Police Minister’s Report and move forward from there. The proposal that the Chairperson devise a draft programme was agreed to. The final report of this Committee to the National Assembly is due by 7 August 2015.
Election of Chairperson
Mr Sikhumbuzo Tshabalala, Committee Section Manager, chaired the election of Chairperson.
Mr Tshabalala read the relevant National Assembly rules to convene the meeting. In terms of Rule 215 the Speaker must appoint members of an Ad Hoc Committee within five working days after the establishment of the Committee by the Assembly. The names of the members of the Committee were published on the ATC on 9 June 2015. According to Rule 129, the Committee had to elect one of its members to be a Chairperson. Rule 131 mandated the Secretary to call a meeting within five working days after the names of the members of the Committee had been announced.
Mr Tshabalala called for nominations for Chairperson of the Committee.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) nominated Mr Cedric Frolick to be the Chairperson of the Committee.
Dr M Motshekga (ANC) seconded the nomination of Mr Frolick.
Mr C Frolick (ANC) accepted the nomination.
Mr N Singh (IFP) said although the Committee was established as per House resolution, generally committees provided for “alternate members”, in this Committee there were Voting and Non-voting Members. In the absence of a Voting Member, there was no provision for an “alternate” for the absent Member. He asked if that was something the Head of Committees could give consideration to.
Mr Tshabalala said the provision of the Rules were that “alternates” were there to replace Voting Members when they were not available to attend. The Non-voting Members were there as an “alternate” to Voting Members.
With no further nominations, Mr Tshabalala announced Mr Cedric Frolick as the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Minister’s Report on Nkandla and invited him to take his seat.
Mr Frolick thanked Mr Tshabalala for facilitating the process and getting the Committee started. As per the resolution of the House, the Committee was to give a report back to the House on 7 August 2015. It also needed to be noted that not all parties had submitted the names of their Members, however the meeting did hold quorum in terms of the Rules. The Committee had Voting and Non-Voting Members, all Members were free to participate except in decision-making processes where there needed to be voting. The Committee had to develop its programme. He suggested that the Committee started looking at the items that would be considered in that programme so the programme could be adopted as soon as possible.
Discussion on parties to be called by the Committee
Ms Dlakude said since the Committee would be dealing with the report by the Minister of Police and Minister of Public Works, she proposed that both Ministers be invited to the Committee to take Members through the report.
Dr C Mulder (FF+) added that if the Minister of Public Works was to be called to the Committee then all relevant people should be called. In the report by the Minister of Police, other reports were referred to: the Public Protector report, Special Investigating Unit report, people who assisted the Minister with his report (cultural expert, fire brigade and fire pool expert) and many other people. Seeing that the ruling party has accepted the principle to call other people, the Committee should be free to compile a list of people to be called.
Mr N Khubisa (NFP) said it was a step forward that people be called to appear before the Committee. He asked to see the terms of reference put on paper in order to guide the Committee on what it needed to do, based on the understanding that this was a new Committee.
Mr Singh said the Committee needed to apply its mind and come up with a list of people who were relevant for providing information to the Committee. When the Minister did his press conference, he indicated that he relied on experts. The Committee had a right in terms of Rule 138 and general powers to interrogate these experts and find out on what basis they came to advise the Minister in reaching his conclusion. One of the people that certainly needed to be invited, and was referred to extensively, was the Public Protector.
Ms M Kubayi (ANC) said the Committee did not determine its mandate or its terms of reference, these were determined by the resolution. The resolution was that the previous Ad Hoc Committee should consider the Public Protector’s Report that had been tabled. A committee report was then tabled and adopted by Parliament based on majority rule, and proceedings and rules of Parliament, which made that committee report a report of Parliament. That report was then forwarded to the Executive so it could respond to the report. What this Ad Hoc Committee was now dealing with was a report by the Executive in response to the Ad Hoc Committee’s report and recommendations.
As per the resolution, the Committee was to look at the report presented to them based on the resolution of the House. There was a lot of prior work done concerning this matter by Parliament and through the previous Committee. She also proposed that the Chairperson draft the programme that would be presented to the Members and adopted.
Dr Motshekga agreed that the Committee was acting on the basis of a process that started in the National Assembly. The National Assembly appointed the previous Ad Hoc Committee and gave it its terms of reference. Acting on these terms of reference, the Ad Hoc Committee produced a report that it tabled with recommendations before the House. The resolution of the House was that there were matters that required expert attention; this led to the reports by the Minister of Police and the Minister of Public Works. Now, there was a suggestion that the current Ad Hoc Committee be at liberty to call different people – this approach did not flow from the process that Parliament had established. The work of this Committee should be guided by the process started by Parliament and not add to it.
Ms L Maseko (ANC) added that the House adopted a report which also contained the terms of reference directing the Ad Hoc Committee to a specific task. The Committee needed to continue on a process that had already started and look at the report of the Minister of Police and also invite the Minister of Public Works.
Mr Mulder said he had no intention to sit in the Committee and waste his time again. He said there were no reports, as referred to by Dr Motshekga. There was only one report by the Minister of Police. The Minister of Public Works did not draft a report; the Minister of Police acknowledged assistance received from the Minister of Public Works. However, since it was proposed that someone who was not an author of the report come to the Committee, why not invite others? The Minister of Police referred to other parties that contributed to the report. Mr Mulder said the rest of the Committee was not going to assist the ANC “to play the same game” they played the last time, and he personally was not interested in wasting his time.
Parliament needed to play its role of accountability as bestowed to it in the Constitution. If Parliament was to keep the Executive accountable, it could not play the game of sending it to the Executive to decide on its accountability. The Executive in return would inform Parliament of what they thought they should be accountable for and then expect the opposition parties to play along with that. If Parliament was serious about fulfilling its role, the Committee had to call relevant people. The Committee could not simply deal with the findings of the Police Minister’s Report and ignore from where the issue came.
Mr Selfe said having been in two previous Ad Hoc Committees it became clear when one is wasting their breath, unless there was actually willingness to get to the bottom of the matter at hand. It would be argued in due course that the Minister’s report was deeply flawed. What was fundamentally problematic was that the Minister of Police and the previous Ad Hoc Committee, sought to substitute remedial action ordered by the Public Protector with another process.
The Public Protector Report directed the South African Police Service and National Treasury to determine the reasonable costs owed by the President on the non-security upgrades to his private residence. That was substituted by asking a member of the Executive that reported directly to the person that directly benefited from the upgrades. That was legally and logically at odds with the work of Parliament.
Mr L Mbinda (PAC) said the only reason he had decided to be a part of this process was because he thought it would be a transparent process and all participants to the process understood the sensitivity of the matter. The intention was not to sit in the Committee to rubber stamp the decisions of the ruling party, but rather for the legislature to take seriously an issue that voters took seriously.
Mr Khubisa said what should underpin the discussion was the question of transparency and accountability. There should be a programme on paper to which all the parties should make inputs.
Mr Singh said the IFP was there to participate in good faith and hoped that all the participants in the Committee also came to participate in good faith. Looking at the resolutions passed by the House, they specifically made mention of Rule 138 where the Committee was empowered to receive petitions, representations and submissions from interested persons or institutions. As Parliament, the Committee could not deny any person from making representations to the Committee.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) said the Committee was there by resolution and not accidentally; all the issues being raised were dealt with in Parliament when the resolution was taken. The Committee was only called to meet to elect the Chairperson; once the Committee had interrogated the report of the Police Minister they could then say who should be invited to the Committee.
Ms T Mahambehlala (ANC) said it should be clear that the report of the Police Minister did not seek to substitute the report of the Public Protector. She asked the Committee to agree, as a matter of principle, that the Police Minister be give an opportunity to come and present to the Committee so that the Committee could move forward from that report. The mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee was very clear, it was to look into the report of the Minister of Police and move forward from there.
Mr V Smith (ANC) proposed that the Chairperson should go draft a programme and bring it back to the Committee. Then the Committee would take the proposed programme, add and subtract from it with justification.
The Chairperson said the meeting was now deteriorating to discussing substantive issues. He said there was a general agreement that he should come back with a draft programme.
The meeting was adjourned.
[Apologies: Mr J Selfe (DA) apologised on behalf of Mr M Maimane (DA) who was not in Cape Town, and conveyed a message of displeasure from Mr Maimane at the short notice given which made it impossible for him to attend the meeting].
No related documents
Frolick, Mr CT
Beukman, Mr F
Breytenbach, Adv G
Coleman, Ms EM
Dlakude, Ms DE
Dreyer, Ms AM
Gamede, Mr DD
Khubisa, Mr NM
Kubayi-Ngubane, Ms M
Mahambehlala, Ms T
Maseko, Ms LM
Mbinda, Mr LR
Motshekga, Dr MS
Mulder, Dr CP
Selfe, Mr J
September, Ms CC
Singh, Mr N
Smith, Mr VG
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