The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings, together with the Portfolio Committee on Health, met to discuss a report on the Fuzane Petition, which had previously been the subject of hearings at three consecutive meetings during May and June. The hearings had dealt with a petition submitted by Ms Nobuntu Fuzane on behalf of her daughter, Tamara, who had allegedly been subjected to ill-treatment and assaulted during her hospitalization at both Groote Schuur and Khayelitsha hospitals.
The Members discussed how much information needed to be included in the report. Some felt that the report did not contain enough information about what had truly transpired at the hearings. It was proposed that the documents which had been submitted by the presenters at the hearings should be included with the report. Otherwise, the report should be changed to include all the missing details. After much deliberation, the Committee agreed that the report had definitely not captured all the details of what had been discussed at the hearings. The Chairperson asked the staff to go back and listen to the recordings of the hearings again, and to include all the important details. This would ensure that when the report was tabled again before the Committee, it reflected the issues which had been discussed previously.
The Select Committee also discussed the Maluti-A-Phofung petition, which had highlighted the plight of families which had been evicted to an area where conditions were unbearable, as well as the Committee’s progress report. In both discussions, the Committee expressed its displeasure at the quality of the work put into compiling these reports. Members agreed that it was unacceptable that the Committee was having to do the work of the officials. The officials needed to introspect and work properly. If they were not happy, they should go to a different Committee. An appeal was made for them to work harder and better.
After considering the options on how the reports could be corrected, the Committee decided not to adopt them at this meeting. They were all tabled to be edited for the next meeting.
The Chairperson said the meeting had been called to consider a joint report of the Portfolio Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings. The report took into consideration a hearing into the Fuzane Petition – a petition on alleged assaults on a child while in Groote Schuur and Khayelitsha hospitals -- that had taken place over three consecutive meetings on 6 and 13 May, and 3 of June. He immediately went straight into the report, giving a general summary of each page, after which he opened the floor up to questions and recommendations.
When there were no recommendations forthcoming, the Chairperson referred the Members to the findings section. There had been nine findings.
Mr G Michalakis (DA) asked if the supporting documents to the report could be submitted as part of the report. The report did not have sufficient information regarding the presentation given at the hearing. This would just help to make point eight complete.
Mr J Julius (DA) supported Mr Michalakis’s suggestion. He referred to observation 9.8, and said that the memorandum needed more information, and including the attachment would fulfil that purpose.
Ms G Manopole (ANC) said that the purpose of the report was to summarise the proceedings of the hearing and discussion and engagement therein. She wanted to know, from the Members’ suggestion above, if the attachment would be included as an addendum. The Committee had attended petitions before where presentations had been given, but they had never before submitted such a presentation as part of the report. Why should this one be treated any differently from the others, unless the suggestion was that what the stakeholders and others in other presentations had to say was not as important? She felt that the report was good as it was. They needed to stay consistent. The recommendation said that the Portfolio Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Petitions would deal with the report. She also wanted to suggest that the report be amended, as she thought it was outdated. She thought that the Committee should wait till next year to submit the report.
Mr D Ximbi (ANC) concurred with Ms Manopole. He thought that there were still a lot of things that needed to be discussed. For instance, in the report from the Deputy Director General, Dr Terence Carter, not all details were in the report. There had never been a completely clear report.
Mr Michalakis said he thought it was important that the Committee stayed consistent, and agreed that all the other reports were not very detailed. Details regarding all the parties in the Committee, not just one party, should be included. The Committee needed to remember that when they submitted a report, it was only that report that was under review. He wanted it to be as detailed as possible so that it was clear to everyone who had not been part of the Committee. If it was not ideal for an attachment to be included with the report, then the report needed to be redrafted so that all the information in the attachment could be included. Otherwise, the report would not be truly complete.
Mr Julius said that Ms Manopole had actually suggested the Committee include Dr Carter’s report. Therefore, she actually agreed with Mr Michalakis that the Committee needed a fuller report. He then suggested that the Committee attach the reports from both Dr Carter and Dr Beth Engelbrecht in the report.
Ms M Dunjwa (ANC), Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health (PC Health), reminded the Committee that her Committee had never dealt with petitions. They could not talk about the proceedings as if everyone understood. They needed to identify areas of weaknesses and strengths so that whoever was going to type it up could make a good report that was going to give a true reflection of what had truly transpired. The Chairperson of the Select Committee was putting her Committee in a difficult position, because they knew the process of petitions and they kept saying they needed to be kept consistent. They had to be clear for the purpose of reporting.
The Chairperson said his understanding was that they had included presentations by the stakeholders, the petitioners, and everybody who had presented at the hearing. He did not want to narrate word by word what every presenter had said, but the main ideas did need to be captured. These would lead to the Committee’s findings from all the presenters. If the Members were of the opinion that a presentation was not reflecting everything, they could highlight the information that they thought had been omitted. If the Committee decided to put the addendum as an attachment, then it would not be consistent with everything else. He thought that the important information needed to be included in the report.
Dr W James (DA, PC Health) reminded the Committee that the responsibility for writing the minutes rested with the staff, not the MPs. Members comment and reflect on whether the minutes were a true reflection of the proceedings. So if there was a feeling that the section that summarized the Western Cape was not adequate, then it was the Members’ responsibility to say what was missing and what changes needed to be made.
Ms Monolope said that she appreciated what Mr Michalakis was saying -- that the Committee needed to be consistent -- and she also agreed that an addendum should not be added to the report. The report was premature, as there were still outstanding reports which had not been included. If the observations were incomplete, then the Committee could not have a conclusion. She proposed that the officials go back and peruse the report and incorporate all the things that had been left out. She also said that sometimes the Members received these reports only two days before a meeting, and asked to have thm sent earlier so that the Members could submit their suggestions before the actual meeting.
Mr H Volmink (DA, PC Health) said that it was never a good idea to limit a source’s information. The task of eliminating information made it so that the report was biased. If any information was going to be excluded, it had to be done in Committee. He recommended that if possible, the Committee should ask the submitters to give a summary of their presentation, and to include that in the report. This would make it so that the information was coming from their perspective.
Mr Michalakis said that Ms Manopole’s statement was exactly what he had been trying to say for the past hour. The report was not complete and it kept referring to reports that were not included. If the information was included, then there would be no need for an addendum or anything at all like that. The report was not complete and did not report everything that happened during the hearing.
Dr P Maesela (ANC) said that he agreed with the points that had been brought up. The key person here was Dr Engelbrecht, who had given an extensive report. He suggested a fuller report of the presentation should be given so that when the Committee met again, they could have a better discussion of the presentation.
Ms Dunjwa reemphasized the importance of having all the documents so that Members knew what to discuss. All the documents needed to be available before the next meeting so that Members knew what they were discussing.
The Chairperson stressed that the report definitely had not captured everything that had happened at the hearing. He asked the staff to go back and listen again to the recording of the hearing and include all the important details so that when the report was tabled again before the Committee, it reflected all that had been discussed during the hearing. He wanted the report corrected and adopted by the first quarter of next year.
He thanked the Portfolio Committee members for their presence and attendance. He excused them from the meeting.
The Chairperson asked the staff to make sure they had the correct contact details for the Members so that they could get reports to the Members on time. He then asked the Committee to proceed with the discussion of the report.
He announced that the Maluti-A-Phofung report had gone back to be amended. The first amendment had been about the inspection in loco. It had been included. He asked if anyone disagreed with the report and amendments.
Mr M Mohapi (ANC, Free State) said that the report had not beena true reflection of what they had discussed. He wondered whether it was challenge of capacity, or if it had just been a case of people who had wanted to neglect what had been said. What had been written as point 12.2 was not what had been said in the meeting. What had actually been said was that beneficiaries should incorporate the people who had been removed from that land. This had been captured completely differently in the report. On point 12.3, the Committee had never spoken about resettlement. He remembered Mr Julius saying that they should make sure that the number of 39 people was verified. Instead, the staff had added what they had wanted to add, in addition what had been discussed. The phrasing of the minutes was important. He was the one who had tried to phrase it systemically, but it looked like that had not happened. It did not look like the report had been proof-read either. In point 12.5, they had talked about the Department of Water Affairs and the Department of Water and Sanitation – this had been mentioned twice. He was curious if someone was neglecting their responsibility, or was just not interested. They were creating twice the work for themselves, because they then had to go back and re-do the whole thing again. They also had not talked about rural development, only about resettlement. He asked if it was possible for the staff to explain what had happened. He lamented that it reflected badly on the Committee and Chairperson.
The Chairperson said that the staff would note that there were not adequate amendments in the report reflecting what Members had said the previous week. He reiterated to the secretary that this would need to be done correctly, because it was embarrassing to the Committee.
Mr Julius said that he could somehow agree with point 12.2. During their inspection, the Committee had seen that there was no water or electricity, and had not wanted people to be moved to that area. He thought that what Mr Mohapi was saying was that there needed to be a simpler way of recommending what had been discussed. Also, the line should read that evicted families from that area should get preference -- just that, and no more than that -- and the rest of the comments on that point should be removed.
Ms Manopole said that since it seemed like the whole Committee was in agreement that the report was not a true reflection of what happened, they should compile another report. For example, point 12.2 needed to be rephrased. Maybe the next report could just cross out what was wrong and rewrite the point again correctly.
Mr Mohapi said that he had earlier suggested that the Committee should get clarification from the staff on what the problem was. He did not just want to leave the matter in the hands of the Chairperson, because the Chairperson’s problems were equally the Committee’s problems. He was not trying to be personal, but perhaps the problem was something that the Committee could help with.
The Chairperson responded that he could not let them respond because it was their work. The staff should feel like what they were doing was not what the Committee was asking. If they needed help, they themselves could identify where that problem was. The Committee could not run around in circles every time because of administrative defects. They needed to represent the views of the Committee adequately, whatever they were.
Mr Julius wanted to find out if there had been a staff briefing before the Committee meeting. It looked like this had been the job of one person because if the team had worked together, then someone else might have been able to catch the mistakes. He asked the staff to please make sure that they worked as a group in writing their reports. It was clear that they were not working as a team but were doing things individually. This had been reflected in the staff’s past work as well.
Mr Mohapi said the rest of the Committee had background on this Committee’s staff. At some point, the secretariat had to be changed. At this point, it was no longer just the problem of the Chairperson but of the Committee as a whole. This was why he was saying that it had to be addressed collectively by the Committee because it reflected badly on the whole Committee now. He was recommending owning up to the issue, and finding out where the challenge lay. He referred to the previous meeting with PC Health, where even the regular members of that Committee had noticed that information had been missing. It was humiliating for the Committee to look like they were not prepared. He agreed with Mr Julius that the staff needed work more as a team. It was frustrating to have no resolutions or progress because the staff had not done their job properly.
Mr M Mhlanga (ANC) asked if there was not a team of chairpersons of the cluster who could sit down and discuss this issue. He thought that it should be discussed when the chairpersons sat down at a cluster meeting instead of the Committee taking a lot of time discussing it.
The Chairperson said that they would leave the discussion there and move on to the next issue. He said that the staff would also discuss what changes they would need to make to assist the Committee moving forward.
Committee Progress Report
The Chairperson went over the report page by page, as per the previous ones.
Mr Mhlanga said that he had not received the document being discussed, and if it had not been sent out to the rest of the Members, the Committee should not have to discuss a document that they had not received. However, he would politely his comments back if everyone else had received the document.
The Chairperson asked the rest of the Committee Members, and they had indeed received the document. He reiterated to the Committee staff the importance of making sure that they had the correct and up to date contact details for each Committee Member. He asked the secretary to please try and not reduce the work of the Committee to administrative work. He apologised to Mr Mhlanaga for his not receiving the document and the invitations.
Mr Julius said that the Committee had in fact had previous discussions about the document in front of them. Mr Mohapi had even made suggestions regarding it. He said that the report was in order.
Mr Michalakis commented that on page 2, points 2.4 and 2.5 with regard to the guidelines did not reflect completion. He said it had been his only request that these points reflect that they had already dealt with the guidelines. Right now, it read like it was still in progress. For the sake of completeness, he wanted to add on points 2.4 and 2.5 that the guidelines had already been completed.
Ms T Wana (ANC) commented about point 3.1. She said that they were not aware of the budgeting planning of the Committee, but the report had referred to the budget for the financial year. She was not saying it was right or wrong, but just wanted to understand whether it was in order to leave it that.
The Chairperson said that point 6.2 spoke to that particular issue, where they had done the five-year strategic planning. On top of that, there was an annual financial plan which was on a 12-month circuit. Instead of saying 12-month, they had just used the term financial year.
Ms Manopole referred to point 3.3. The committee was in the process facilitating the introduction of the bill. She said that they had already started the process, and proposed that the sentence be reconstructed. The information needed to be a true reflection of the work the Committee was doing. She was not going to agree to a report that was as apologetic as this one.
Mr Mhlanga asked for clarity on point 3.4, to establish when the Committee was expected to present the guidelines in the House.
The Committee secretary said that the guidelines were still not in the Announcements, Tablings and Committees (ATC). There was a process that still needed to be followed before they went to the ATC. They still needed to go the NCOP to be vetted and then they would be sent to the ATC.
The Chairperson asked how long that would take.
The Secretary said he did not know, but that he would check.
The Chairperson said that the Committee could not be held responsible for work that someone else was responsible for. If anything had been deducted by the vetting, they would have to bring it back to the Committee but if not, they would proceed with the document.
Ms Wana asked Ms Manopole to rephrase point 3.3, because she had been talking about it earlier.
The Chairperson said Ms Manopole had been saying that the Committee had resolved the route to go through on that memorandum.
Mr Mohapi reminded the Committee that he had had concerns about point 4.2.
Chairperson said that the uniqueness of the cluster was that it was the only one that had three committees in one, and they needed assistance from the authorities. He then continued with the report, asking if there were any disputes on each page.
Mr Ximbi then proposed the adoption of the report with the amendments and corrections.
Ms Wana wanted the Committee to highlight that they had requested that a study be made, but it had not been done.
The Chairperson said this was very relevant, particularly for point 5.3. It should be in the findings.
Ms Manopole said that it was unacceptable that the Committee was doing the work of the officials. The officials needed to introspect and work properly. If they were not happy, they could go to a different Committee. However, she wanted to appeal to them to work harder and better.
Mr Mohapi said that point 5.2 was a futile suggestion -- to say that Members should serve on only one Committee. It should not be put on paper, because if Members were to serve on only one Committee, there would be no one in the Petitions Committee. He offered to sit with the Chairperson and party whip to discuss a meeting schedule that did not interfere with other Committee meetings.
Ms Wana wanted to second Mr Mohapi on 5.2, because it was a Human Resource requirement. She said that she loved the Committee, but that 5.2 made it sound like they all wanted to leave.
The Chairperson said that the report would be tabled for the Members’ consideration at the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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