Although a number of items were on the agenda for consideration, including the adoption of the report on the Maluti-A-Phofung petition, adoption of minutes of meetings on 28 October and 4 November 2015 and consideration of the Committee programme for the first term 2016, the Committee was faced with logistical constraints. Not all Members had received the revised copy of the report. Strikes by Parliamentary staff had disrupted the starting time and not all Members had received notification of the time, which was delayed to 15:00, so there was no quorum to attend to proper consideration of the report.
Members had a useful discussion on how they felt the Committee should set agendas and priorities, and were agreed on the general principles of not prioritizing one province over another, but the need to take into consideration the matters that would need to be addressed at Taking Parliament to the People. It was agreed that the final programme would need to be presented again for adoption after conferring with the Cluster Secretary. One Member expressed his concern that some petitions had be queued up for considerably longer than others. Members also attended to discussion on, and adopted, with revisions, the minutes of 28 October and 4 November 2015.
First Term 2016 Draft Programme
The Chairperson tabled the first term 2016 draft programme.
Mr M Mohapi (ANC, Free State) proposed that the Committee should not discuss the programme point by point but highlight what needed to be prioritised – possibly based on urgency. He also suggested that Taking Parliament to the People should be prioritised as well, and this would help when the Committee went for reporting.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) said that he did not accept the draft programme. All the petitions that were being dealt with were new ones, and not the first which the Committee had received. He believed that the Committee should deal with the petitions in the order in which they were received. He was willing to accept the programme if there was a justifiable reason for the choice of petitions to be discussed, but this was not presented. If the draft programme could not be changed, then he needed the Content Advisors to explain why these issues were picked. He had no problem with the dates, but with the content. He also warned against focusing on just one province and delaying the handling of petitions from the others.
The Chairperson explained that there was a guideline given to the Committee because of the Taking Parliament to the People. He said that, for example, the Ratepayers’ Petitions set for discussion on 24 January and 24 February needed to be handled so that the Committee would have a report when it went to Taking Parliament to the People. He said that using the order or receipt as a means of prioritising was an instruction that he gave to the administrators when they drew the programme. However, of equal importance was the preparation for Taking Parliament to the people.
He said that the issue of Shawela, which had been brought up by Mr Mohapi earlier, was a key matter and he proposed that it should come to 17 February instead.
Mr Mohapi agreed that certain issues should be prioritised. He agreed with Mr Michalakis that the order of receipt as well as dealing with all provincial petitions should be taken into account. He pointed out that the Committee had never gone to the Northern Cape, for example. And other provinces were having issues as well. The Committee needed to try and spread out its priorities. However, he agreed that exceptional cases should be included on that list, regardless of when they were received. For example, any issues to be raised at the level of Taking Parliament to the People should be given priority. The previous commitments with recent interventions should also constitute part of the priority list.
Mr Michalakis asked for clarity on Oudtshoorn and it was explained to him that that both hearings would be in the same place. He then said that he fully supported what Mr Mohapi had said. The Committee could not dedicate an entire term to one province.
The Chairperson reiterated that the issues set to be discussed on 26 January and 24 February were in line with the guidelines of the NCOP’s Taking Government to the People. He said that he had suggested removing the issue scheduled for the afternoon of the 17th, which was a Western Cape matter, so that the Committee could have all day to address the Taking Parliament to the People.
Mr Mohapi said that he does not have a problem with the schedule if it addressed issues to be discussed at Taking Parliament to the People, and if the Committee was not placing over-emphasis on one province.
The Chairperson then proposed a change to the schedule for 17 February. The Committee could not change the agenda for 3 March, since that was a joint committee meeting.
Mr Michalakis said that the second issue scheduled for 17 February related to traditional leaders and had been before the Committee for some time. He asked where the petititioners were from. He asked if the Committee was asking them to travel from Oudtshoorn to somewhere else in the Western Cape, and why the Committee could not meet with them while it was in the area.
The Chairperson then clarified that the petitions were due to be heard in Cape Town. He suggested a replacement of the traditional leaders matter with another hearing on Chiawelo.
Mr Mohapi asked why the Ratepayers’ petition was scheduled for both 26 January and 24 February, and why it could not be heard on one day. He suggested handling another provincial matter on the remaining day, according to the sequence of priority.
The Chairperson clarified that 26 January was to be the hearing day, with the report to be considered by the Committee on 24 February.
Mr Michalakis expressed doubt that the Committee would be able to move from hearing to conclusion in less than a month, given the time taken to deal with such matters in the past.
The Chairperson took the point but suggested that this schedule be maintained so that Members would be able to learn from it.
Mr Mohapi suggested a wording change to clarify which would be the hearing and which the consideration, and requested clarity on the dates.
The Chairperson reminded him that the Committee was now looking at considering another petition on 17 February and it might be that the meeting was in Johannesburg.
Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) reminded the Chairperson that this had been agreed to because of time constraints. She asserted that the Committee could not afford to have two separate petitions set down for one day and the scheduling officers had to understand the circumstances and the impossibility of dealing with two matters on one day.
The Chairperson said that, in line with the directive, the Committee would handle one petition from Edeni on 26 January, and 17 January would be blocked off to deal with Chiawelo.
Members continued to discuss whether some hearings could be moved to 9 March, instead of the security hearings, or on 3 February, but the Chairperson reminded them of the joint meeting on 3 February, and the need to deal with Taking Parliament to the People. He suggested that the Committee focus on issues listed on the programme.
Mr D Ximbi (ANC, Western Cape) suggested that the Committee needed to accept the programme, in principle, as a framework but the Cluster Secretary would need to come up with a joint programme.
Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) agreed but still asked that 17 February be set aside for the Chiawelo petition.
Mr Michalakis said that he was still worried about the fact that some petitions had been queued up for much longer than others and he hoped that this was not an election strategy.
Mr Mohapi raised a point of order, reminding Mr Michalakis that they had both agreed about prioritising earlier and the principles, and he felt that the Committee was being open minded.
Mr Michalakis responded that Mr Mohapi’s comment could not properly be regarded as a point of order. He apologized if his remarks had touched a nerve and repeated that he hoped that this was not such a strategy; if it was, then he was very worried about the Committee’s priorities.
Committee Minutes 28 October 2015
The Chairperson tabled the minutes of the meeting on 28 October.
Mr Mohapi commented that the Committee had agreed previously to list those present or with apologies, but “absent” was still listed as an option.
The Chairperson thought the Committee had agreed upon Absent/Apology being listed but thought that this was not quite logical.
Mr Mhlanga was concerned because the minutes showed him as “absent” although an apology was supposed to be recorded, because he was attending to other parliamentary business.
Members agreed that this should be amended.
Mr Mohapi called the Committee’s attention to point 11.2, and said that this was incorrect; the Committee had never said that the evicted families should be consulted, but the Committee had suggested instead that they be put in order of preference, and had discussed the 39 beneficiaries.
The Chairperson said that the details for the beneficiaries would be included in the Committee Report, since the minutes were merely a summary.
Mr Mohapi disagreed and said that the minutes should be a true reflection of the discussion.
The Committee Secretary clarified that the procedure with petitions was that the minutes should summarise the discussions and the essence of the meeting, whilst the Committee Report would include all details.
Mr Mohapi still disagreed. He conceded that it was acceptable to summarise the discussions, but felt that the recommendations should be listed, because those recommendations were the Committee’s conclusions, and since the issue around the 39 beneficiaries were not included, it should be.
The Chairperson said that the recommendation would then be added, and Mr Mohapi suggested that it be included as point 11.5.
The minutes were adopted, subject to these changes.
Committee Minutes 4 November 2015
The Chairperson tabled the minutes from the meeting on 4 November.
Mr Mohapi said that the Maluti-A-Phofung petition consideration had appeared in the minutes for both 28 October and 4 November, and the Chairperson explained that the issue was discussed on both days.
Ms Wana also reminded the Committee that the minutes from 28 October had been discussed and sent back for correction on 4 November.
The Chairperson agreed.
Mr Mohapi said that the reflection of the Maluti-a Phofung petition consideration had been reversed, what was reflected in the minutes of 28 October had actually happened on 4 November, to his recollection.
The Chairperson said that the discussion on both days was similar and relevant.
Mr Mohapi said that even though some corrections had been made now to the minutes of 28 October, some of recommendations had been taken out of the report.
The Chairperson said that the real issues would be reflected in the report itself. He said that if there were issues that had been raised and needed amending, the members could review the report and if those issues were still not addressed, then they could have a discussion. This was simply a report on the meeting.
The minutes were adopted, subject to the amendments proposed on attendance.
Committee Report on Maluti-A-Phofung petition
Members decided that they would reschedule the Maluti-A-Phofung draft Committee Report consideration and adoption to another time. Some of the Members did not have a copy of the report and the Committee Secretary also did not have it. Because of the continuing strikes by the staff, the latest version of the Report had not been provided to the meeting. Consequently, the only copies available for discussion were in emails sent to some Members only.
Mr Michalakis thanked the Committee, on behalf of the DA representatives, for showing more progress in this year than previously. Whilst the Committee still had a lot of work to do, it had done well so far. He hoped for even better progress in the coming year. He expressed good wishes to the whole Committee for the festive season and a safe return next year.
Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu Natal) expressed his thanks to God for carrying the Committee and Parliament through the storms and expressed his wishes for a better year in 2016. He thanked the opposition party Members for working well together with the ANC Members. He expressed wishes for the festive season.
The Chairperson noted that this Committee had taught him much. He thanked everyone for their hard work and dedication in their representation of the people of South Africa and hoped this would continue.
The meeting was adjourned.
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