Committee business: Consideration and adoption of outstanding minutes; Consideration of a Letter from the President


18 June 2015
Chairperson: Mr E Mlambo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The outstanding minutes of the Committee were adopted, as well as a letter from the President pertaining to Operation Fiela. Concerns had been raised over the implementation of the operation, particularly with regard to the deployment of troops domestically. The Committee decided it would request a briefing from the Minister on its concerns.

The third term programme was reviewed and adopted. Questions were raised over the joint oversight trip to Gauteng from 21 to 24 July, due to that week coinciding with Provincial Week, as this would cause most of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Members to be unable to attend. It was decided to keep the date as scheduled, and to have the NCOP Members from Gauteng join the National Assembly (NA) members of the Committee on the oversight trip. 

Meeting report

Review of previous minutes for adoption
The minutes of 30 April were reviewed. Mr G Michalakis (DA) remarked that he would like the spelling of his surname corrected on the first page. The minutes were adopted with this amendment.

The minutes of 14 and 28 May were reviewed and adopted without amendments.

The minutes of 4 June were reviewed and Mr T Motlashuping (ANC) commented that his name had not been abbreviated consistently throughout the minutes, and he would like that corrected. The minutes were adopted with this amendment.

Review of letter from the President
The Chairperson opened the discussion on the letter from the President, dated 23 April 2015.

Mr D Maynier (DA) summarised the letter as pertaining to the implementation of Operation Fiela by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), in cooperation with the South African Police Service (SAPS). He said the controversial nature of Operation Fiela was based on it being an internally orientated Defence Force deployment. He said there was a general consensus of apprehension among the parties regarding the deployment of troops internally. He formally proposed that the Minister, through the Chief of Joint Operations, be requested to brief the Committee on their concerns.

The Chairperson acknowledged the proposal, but added that SAPS could be deployed constitutionally within South Africa’s border, to which Mr Maynier agreed. The Chairperson clarified that the matter in question was the request for a briefing on the Operation.

Mr M Booi (ANC), a Member of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, agreed that a briefing by the Minister, or someone well informed on Operations Fiela, was within the rights of the Committee, and seconded the motion. He then remarked that procedurally, the Committee should first adopt the letter from the President and then request the briefing.

The Chairperson agreed that the letter from the President should be reviewed and adopted.
All the Members indicated they had read the letter, and it was quickly adopted.
The Chairperson then asked the Committee Secretary to send a request to the appropriate office for a briefing on Operation Fiela by the Minister, or someone familiar with the operation.

Mr S Esau (DA) questioned the date on which the letter had been received by the Chairperson, since the letter had been addressed to the Speaker on 23 April, and the Committee should have had a seven-day notice period.

The Chairperson responded that due to the time of bureaucratic processes, a delay was to be expected, and it would be very difficult to find out exactly why this letter had been late, as affirmed by the Secretary.

Ms N Mnisi (ANC) asked for clarification on who had been calling for the termination of Operation Fiela, and which parties had agreed that troops should not be deployed internally.

The Chairperson asked Mr D Gamede (ANC) to clarify the matter.

Mr Gamede said that this was a minor issue and was not on the agenda to be discussed today. He suggested the Committee discuss the next item on the agenda.

Third Term Programme
Mr Michalakis asked whether the oversight trip to Gauteng, scheduled for 21-24 July, was for the Committee as a whole or just a select group since the date conflicted with Provincial Week, when the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Members would be in their respective provinces.

The Chairperson noted the issue and said the Secretary would have to look into the matter. This was just an interim decision to allow her to consult with relevant offices related to the programme.

Mr Esau remarked that the National Assembly (NA) would convene in the second week of July, leaving the final week July available for both the NA and NCOP members.

The Chairman agreed that it was important to find a good compromise due to the fact that this was intended to be a joint oversight of the project.

Mr Michalakis clarified that the week of 25-31 July was available for the NCOP Members, so the other Members should check for conflict. He also said that if it were possible to switch the date to this week, it would be more suitable for the majority of members.

Mr Booi added that the NA Members would be in Cape Town during the week of 22 June to move the adoption of the Eskom Bill, and therefore may be conflicted due to the priority of that adoption. He agreed that the date should be reconsidered to ensure it was actually joint oversight.

Mr Gamede (ANC) said it was difficult to find suitable dates that would accommodate both Houses. The currently scheduled week was being used by the entire security cluster to go on joint oversight trips to various borders in anticipation of the new border agency that is to be established. He suggested that the week of the oversight trip should remain the same, and the NCOP members of Gauteng should be employed on the trip to provide representation from both Houses.

The Chairperson agreed on the difficulty of finding a date that would work for all Members, and said that Provincial Week could be taken advantage of in this regard. He concurred that he and other NCOP Members of the Committee from Gauteng should be able to manage the oversight trip, in addition to their Provincial Week duties, and therefore represent the NCOP on the trip.

Mr Motlashuping questioned whether the Chairperson was taking into consideration the input Mr Booi had given regarding the necessity of the NA members to be near Cape Town during the week of 22 June to discuss the Eskom Bill.

Ms L Dlamini (ANC) said that there were programmes during Provincial Week that would make it difficult for Members to leave and attend the oversight trip.

The Chairperson noted the concerns, but stated that he done this in the past and that it would not be a crisis if Members were to miss a few events of Provincial Week. He asked for more input from Mr Booi regarding the conflict that might arise with the NA being in Cape Town for that week.

Mr Booi said that work on the Eskom Bill had to be done next week in order to bring it before the NA by the end of the month, and there were also many other things to discuss and consider which would keep the NA Members busy.

The Chairperson pointed out that the oversight trip was not this month, but in July, making this a nonexistent issue. With the issue of the date solved, the Chairperson asked if the Committee could move for the adoption of this programme, with an amendment.

Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked to which amendment the Chairperson was referring since the date had been chosen as it was scheduled on the programme. He moved to accept the programme without amendments.

The Chairperson clarified that his amendment was referring to the participation of the NCOP Members, since it would be Provincial Week.

Ms Mnisi seconded the motion to adopt the programme.

The programme was adopted.

Mr Esau asked if, for the following year, the Committee could request the NA and NCOP to block out a specific time period to be used for joint committees to go on oversight trips, so that this conflict could be avoided in the future.

The Chairperson noted this point, and then adjourned the meeting.



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