The briefing from the Department of Transport on its third quarter expenditure for 2015/16 was removed from the agenda after a proposal and recommendations from Members. Members strongly objected to receiving documents only at the start of the meeting. It was resolved to take up the matter with the Minister and the ANC Chief Whip. Although the Department submitted that it was the first time documents were late, the Committee did not agree with that at all. It was decided to hold the Department responsible in future to submit documents five working days in advance. Some Members felt that the officials should be held personally liable for the wasteful costs.
Minutes of 9 February 2016 were considered and adopted.
Appointment of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary announced that the permanent Chairperson, Ms D Magadzi (ANC) was ill, and that nominations for an acting Chairperson were awaited.
Ms S Xego (ANC) nominated Mr G Radebe (ANC).
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) seconded the nomination.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) nominated Mr Ramatlakane.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) seconded this nomination.
Mr Ramatlakane declined.
Mr Hunsinger nominated Ms Xego.
Ms Xego declined.
Mr Radebe was appointed as acting Chairperson.
Welcome, Apologies and Agenda
Welcome, Apologies and Agenda
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for the nomination. He welcomed all to the Committee’s first meeting for the year, and expressed hope that all would work together to better the lives of South Africans. Apologies were rendered for the permanent Chairperson and Mr M Mabika (NFP), who were both ill. Mr MP Sibande (ANC) would be joining the meeting later. Apologies were also received from The Minister and the Deputy Minister. He hoped that a letter would be received from the Minister. The agenda for the day consisted of a briefing on the third quarter report by the Department of transport, and the adoption of Committee minutes.
Ms D Carter (COPE) proposed that item 1 be removed from the agenda. Documents were only received at the start of the meeting at 9h30 that morning. Members had no time to read the document and prepare. The Department should therefore not be allowed to present, and the officials should be held personally responsible for the waste incurred.
Mr Hunsinger supported the proposal. As the document was only received that morning, Members had no time to align issues and to compare it to other documents.
Ms Xego asked that there first be an explanantion from the Committee Secretary.
Ms Valerie Carelse, Committee Secretary, explained that she had reminded the Department two weeks before, and had called the week before to follow up on the matter. An apology was only received on that morning.
The Acting Chairperson remarked that the Department knew way in advance about their obligation.
Ms Xego asked if the Chairperson or Secretary had received any prior warning that the document was going to be that late.
The Acting Chairperson noted that no such information was received.
Ms Xego said that in that case she would support the proposal that the item be removed from the agenda.
Mr De Freitas noted that the Committee norm was for documents to be received two days in advance. Wasteful expenditure was being incurred. It was unacceptable for the Department to arrive unprepared. Committee Members consequently also had no time to prepare. The fact that the agenda item was a third quarter expenditure review made it “all the more scary”. He proposed that the Department be reminded in writing that the Committee needed documents in advance. Disrespect was being shown.
Mr Ramatlakane remarked that he was not opposed to the proposal, but it was only fair to ask the Director-General to explain.
Mr Godfrey Selepe, Director-General, Department of Transport, rendered an unconditional apology. He asked that it not been taken to indicate disrespect. History could attest to the fact that the Department always tried to provide documentation on time. The Department had been caught up with other commitments. He could not be present because he had needed to prepare for the Cabinet Lekgotla. The Department would accept responsibility for the matter.
The Acting Chairperson responded that it was not in fact the first time it had happened. Other commitments was no excuse. The Department knew in advance that documents had to be submitted as it was a standing item.
Ms Xego welcomed the explanation but if communication between the Committee and the Department had been better, the meeting might have been postponed. The question was what the Committee was supposed to do when a document was only received on that very morning. Members had to analyse the document and compare it to prior documents.
The Acting Chairperson told the DG that it was not to happen again. The matter would be taken up with the Minister and the ANC Chief Whip. There was a delay in service delivery and wasteful expenditure. The Department had to tell the Committee when it would be ready to present. He awaited recommendations from Members, to take the matter further and ensure that such derelictions stop immediately.
Ms Carter said that the document had only been received that morning. Usually documents were received on Thursday or at the latest by Friday midday. Members of the Department had to be held personally liable for travel expenses.
Mr De Freitas suggested that the Minister be written to, to explain that it was not the first time, and that the Committee was concerned about that kind of behaviour.
Mr Hunsinger said that detail had to be added to the document received that morning. There had to be detailded explanantions as to why targets were not met, as for instance on page 26 of the report. The annual target was not met, and consultations were postponed. The Department had to tell the Committee why.
Mr M Maswanganyi (ANC) opined that the Minister could not get the benefit of what was discussed. There had to be a politician present. There was not much sense in the Committee interacting only with government officials.
Mr Ramatlakane said that he himself would be reluctant to prescribe to the Department how to write a report. The Department wrote and the Committee interrogated. With respect to recommendations, the issue of timely reception of documents had to be strengthened. In the Police Portfolio Committee the rule was that documents had to be received seven days before presentation. This Committee had been flexible in its demands. It was willing to accept documents on Friday, or even on Monday, so that it could be read on Monday night. It was reasonable to require documents five days in advance, or else the Committee would be reduced to passengers. If SAPS could keep to seven days in advance, then the Department could make documents available five days in advance. There were management and planning issues in the Department. The question was why the Department only met on the day before the presentation, to discuss it. The matter had to be reported to the Minister and the Chief Whip. It was not the first time it had happened. The Department was serial offender in this regard.
Ms Carter asked if it was to be five calendar days or five working days. Tuesday would be even better than Thursday.
The Acting Chairperson said that it had to be five working days. Recommendations had to be submitted to the permanent Chairperson.
Consideration and adoption of Committee minutes
Minutes of 9 February were presented for adoption. Items for the meeting had been consideration of the Committee report on the HNS Convention; consideration of oversight reports, and consideration of minutes of previous meetings.
Minutes of 9 February were adopted without comment.
Mr Ramatlakane appealed to the Committee Secretary to finalise the Committee programme for the first quarter.
The Acting Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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