Guidelines on Executive Undertakings; Committee 4th term Quarterly Report; Committee Report

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

23 September 2015
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejane (ANC, Limpopo)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee went through the draft guidelines for the processing of Executive Undertakings in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The Committee wanted there to be a specific time frame and decided to scrutinize executive undertaking progress on a quarterly basis, and submit a quarterly progress report to the NCOP. There were two gaps in the guidelines and the legal team was asked to address the Committee's jurisdiction at the provincial level and uncertainty around Council members’ contribution to executive undertakings.

Some changes were made to the Committee’s fourth term draft programme. The Committee was concerned about the amount of time that was allocated for hearings and the consideration of reports. Some Members expressed frustration at the fact that no petitions had been finalised. It was specifically noted that the Committee section must ensure that the Committee was put in a position to finalise matters coming up in the next meetings, by making sure that all documentation had been submitted in advance.

The issue of non-attendance by some Members at Committee meetings and the effect on the progress of Committee meetings was brought up, and the DA asked for it to be put on record that they were uncomfortable with that situation.

Meeting report

Consideration of draft Guidelines Pertaining to Executive Undertakings
The Committee discussed the draft Guidelines Pertaining to Executive Undertakings (the Guidelines).

Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) drew attention to Point 7. III. “Scrutinise the executive undertaking from time to time to determine the extent to which the executive undertakings has been implemented”. He was concerned about the phrase ‘time to time’ as it was not specific with regards to the time frame within which it had to be done.

The Chairperson explained that this was due to the fact that petitions were widely divergent and it was impossible to put the same timeframe on all petitions.

Mr Michalakis suggested that the words “from time to time” be changed to “once every quarter” in order to avoid the risk of the Committee only perhaps doing this at longer intervals.  He acknowledged the Chairperson’s point but suggested that even if the executive undertaking was not complete, an update and the status of the case could be submitted in the quarterly report.

Mr J Julius (DA, Gauteng) agreed with Mr Michalakis. He brought the Committee’s attention to point 7. II “Attach time-frames within which a member of the executive should report on the executive undertaking to the Committee”. He stated that the guidelines thus did offer the opportunity for the Committee to attach a time frame to the executive undertakings. He suggested that the Committee work in more specific language on that point.

Mr Michalakis explained to the Committee that he did not have a problem with 7. II, which refers to a Minister and their time frame, and understood that the time frame would be determined case by case. However, he did have a problem with 7. III and thus suggested that it be changed to “Scrutinise the executive undertaking quarterly to determine the extent to which the executive undertakings has been implemented.” He clarified that the time frame was for the Committee, and not for the Executive.

Mr Julius noted that 7.V covered a register, when it spoke to “Develop and keep a register of each executive undertaking in order to keep track thereof” and suggested that quarterly reports would help with this. He suggested that the register be attached to such reports.

Mr Michalakis drew the Committee’s attention to B. This stated: “The Committee must in terms of Rule 102 of the NCOP Rules submit a progress report to the Council on an executive undertaking referred to it”. He suggested that the Committee commit to submitting quarterly progress reports to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), in order to protect the Committee’s image and to show the NCOP that the Committee was doing its job. This would assist in getting the Executive to cooperate with the Committee, for in case of difficulties the NCOP could be asked to intervene.

The Chairperson stated that in terms of the NCOP rules, a report should be written, adopted, and sent to the NCOP after 21 days of a hearing.

Mr Michalakis acknowledged that but said the Committee might run into the same problem as it had with petitions, where the Committee did a lot of work but nothing was completed or finalised. Much of the work that this Committee would be doing on executive undertakings would be largely dependent on the executive. A progress report would help to show that the Committee was doing its job, especially if executives did not comply, and he repeated that it would protect the Committee’s image and give the Committee some teeth if the NCOP could help with holding the executive accountable.

Mr Julius agreed with Mr Michalakis, and also said that the requirement to submit a report to the NCOP was positive.

Mr D Ximbi (ANC, Western Cape) stated that the quarterly report should include a progress report on the matters under consideration.

Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked what would happen where there were no progress reports submitted by the Minister or department.

The Chairperson explained that in those cases a letter would be submitted to the relevant department or Minister, requesting a progress report, and if there was no reply the Committee would write a letter officially to the NCOP informing it of the non-compliance and suggest a way forward from the Committee.

Mr Michalakis supported the Chairperson, and pointed out that sometimes there was a problem if Ministers did not even come to the NCOP to answer oral questions. Ministers were not as reliable as they should be and the chances of Ministers being concerned with what an NCOP Committee said were small. He suggested that B be changed to “The Committee must in terms of the Rule 102 of the NCOP Rules submit a progress report to the Council 21 days after the report has been submitted as envisioned in 7. A. II due…”. The progress report from the Committee would state whether the Minister had acted or failed to act, and whether the NCOP needed to intervene.

Mr Michalakis also stated that it was important to include a section in the Guidelines that stipulated that the Committee could call in a Head of Department or member of the Executive to appear before the Committee if the Committee deemed this necessary.

The Committee agreed on this and point 7. A. VI. was added to the Guidelines.

Mr Michalakis was concerned about the time frame the executive had to respond to the Committee on information that had been requested. He suggested that, by default, that if the executive or department did not respond to the Committee within 21 days, the Committee should then immediately move to give the department or executive a time frame, which would be no more than three months.

The Chairperson questioned what Mr Michalakis was suggesting, because there were already 21 days stipulated by the Guidelines.

Mr Michalakis clarified his point through an example – that the Committee might ask the Minister how long it would take to implement the report, and the Minister might respond that this was not known – in which case the Committee could not determine 21 days from the unknown date.  There was a need for an alternative if Ministers did not know their time frame.

The Chairperson corrected Mr Michalakis on the word “Ministers”, pointing out that the word “executives” included  provincial Premiers, not just Ministers.

Mr Michalakis asked whether the Committee’s executive undertaking powers extended to provincial Ministers. He asked the legal advisors to come up with wording to fill a possible gap in that regard, and asked for clarity on whether the Committee’s jurisdiction was limited to national level or could it be extended to the Provincial level too. He asked whether the team who drafted these guidelines had looked at all parliaments that practiced executive undertakings and used that research and findings to inform the guidelines.

A member of the Committee Section explained that she did not know what informed the guidelines but she knew that the team had looked into the two parliaments that practiced executive undertakings. She also explained that there was still a problem that the terms ‘executive’ and ‘undertakings’ still needed to be defined.

Mr Julius made comments and questioned 6. A. and 6. B. Referring to the words “After an executive undertaking has been identified”, he asked when it would be identified and by whom, and suggested that these details must be included in the guidelines to fill the gap.

The Chairperson explained that the guidelines explicitly said that the Chairperson of the Council must draft a letter to the Minister/Deputy Minister concerned requesting extensive information. He explained that the Chairperson of the NCOP, within a particular time, should be able to establish executive undertakings. He stated that the Committee would need to assist in this process.

Mr Michalakis, supported by Mr Ximbi, stated that all members of the NCOP were free to write to the Chairperson or ask the Chairperson to write to the Committee.

The Chairperson asked whether 6. A. and 6. B. should be left as presently worded.

Mr Michalakis said that a provision should be included stating that if a member of the NCOP did not get a response from the Chairperson of Council, they should be able to write to the Committee and the Committee will follow up with the Chairperson of Council.

The Chairperson remarked that all members of Council indeed had the right to write to the Committee, it was not only the Chairperson of Council.

Mr Michalakis and Mr Ximbi stated that the members of the NCOP should be able to write to the Committee, and this should be stated.

Mr Ximbi felt that there was no need to include a paragraph stating this.

Mr Mhlanga felt that there was a need to include the paragraph.

The Chairperson noted that there was uncertainty around the roles of members of the NCOP in contributing to executive undertakings and asked that the legal team work on the matter.

Mr Michalakis asked that Members make written suggestions on the guidelines for the sake of time and effectiveness.

The Chairperson suggested that there be two different administrative teams for petitions and executive undertakings. He commented that the administrative part of the Committee was not satisfactory, especially with regards to petitions. It would be necessary to motivate why the Committee thought it necessary to have two administrative teams.

Mr Mhlanga agreed with the Chairperson’s suggestion.

Mr Julius suggested that the Committee move onto the next agenda item, and mark the Guidelines as a working document.

Consideration of the Fourth Term Committee Programme
Mr Michalakis asked whether “Taking Parliament to the People” was still continuing, as he had heard a rumour that it would only take place next year. He was very unhappy with the fact that the Committee was taking on four new petitions when the Committee had ten unfinished petitions, and the legacy this would create, urging the Committee to firstly finish what it had started. The Committee had not yet had the opportunity to go to the NCOP to report that the Committee had successfully completed a petition. He felt that the Committee was ineffective and had backlogs. For this reason, he wanted to reject the Committee’s fourth term programme on those grounds.

The Chairperson noted Mr Michalakis’ point and suggested that Members should go through the whole programme and make note of all the petitions that were outstanding.

Mr Michalakis stated that the Committee did not have enough time, in a two hour session, to finalise incomplete cases and complete hearings on the same day. He suggested that the hearing on the Petition on the alleged failure by the Western Cape Government to recognise a House of Traditional Leaders in the Western Cape should be moved to another day, and that the consideration and adoption of outstanding minutes and reports on the hearings of the Mkhize Petition, Paternity Leave Petition, Sehume Petition and Transnet – Mayibuye Petition should be the only agenda items for 14 October 2015.

Mr Mhlanga suggested that the hearing on the House of Traditional Leaders Petition be taken to “Taking Parliament to the People”. He also confirmed the rumour by stating that this had been moved to January 2016.

Mr M Chetty (DA, Kwa-Zulu Natal) stated that the Committee needed to follow up on the Mafukeng Petition. The officials had had more than enough time to prepare a report and that it should be submitted and tabled on 14 October 2015.

Mr Michalakis suggested that, if there was time left on 28 October 2015, anything not finalised on 14 October 2015 could be slotted in that day.

Mr Julius asked why there was only one agenda item for 30 October 2015.

The Chairperson explained that this was a joint Committee meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Health.

Mr Michalakis asked if the Committee would complete the hearing on the Embrace Dignity Petition (Petition calling for the end of all forms of oppression against women, prostitution and sex trafficking) scheduled for 4 November 2015. He asked if there was a second time slot allocated for this hearing, and if not, suggested it in the period between 17 November and 20 November 2015.

The Chairperson stated that that period should be left alone for the moment; specifics were unknown at the moment.

Mr Julius asked why the Committee could not handle all the Gauteng petitions from Monday to Thursday, since the Committee was going to be in Gauteng on 11 November 2015.

Mr Chetty stated that the Bokomiso Petition was still not finalised. He would not like this Committee to be guilty of not finalising issues, as had happened in the previous Parliament. He suggested that the Committee must check whether it would be viable to solve this issue while the Committee was in Gauteng, since it would be easier for the petitioners to travel to Gauteng. He asked where the reports were that should have been done by now, and informed the Committee that according to information he had received, people were still living in the fire station.

Mr Michalakis asked where the two petitions from Kwa-Zulu Natal were.

The Chairperson stated that the petitions had been tabled. He noted that the Bokomiso petition was scheduled for hearing between 20 October and 23 October 2015.

Mr Michalakis suggested that the hearing on the House of Traditional Leaders Petition be put on hold until the Committee returned next year.

The Committee decided that the Bokomiso report must be tabled on 14 October 2015.

Mr Michalakis asked that it be put on record that the Committee wanted the Committee Secretary and support staff to put the Committee in a position where Members could finalise petitions and reports to be dealt with on 14 October, on 20 October (the Bokomiso petition) and on 30 October (the Fuzane report). All information must be included, so that the Committee could finalise the petitions.

The Chairperson agreed. He asked that all documents pertaining to the hearings be sent a week before each meeting, so that the Committee could make sure that everything had been submitted.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC, Kwa-Zulu Natal) made the point that some Members might not be present on 14 or 20 October.

The Chairperson went through the programme one more time.

The Committee adopted the draft programme.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee did not have time to complete the agenda.

Mr Nzimande stated that he had been unable to attend the meeting earlier, because he was waiting for the Committee meeting he had attended prior to this one to get a quorum.

The Chairperson felt that Mr Nzimande was undermining the Committee.

Mr Nzimande explained that he was not undermining the Committee. He blamed poor planning, and explained that the people who scheduled these meetings needed to keep the need for a quorum in mind and structure them in such a way that it could be achieved.

The Chairperson repeated that this Committee was being undermined. He understood that other committees needed a quorum but the Committee also needed a quorum.

Mr Chetty asked that the issue of non-attendance of members and the effect it had on the performance of the Committee be noted, and asked for it to be put on record that the DA was uncomfortable with the fact that some Members who failed to attend were hindering the progress of Committee meetings.

The meeting was adjourned.


Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: