Language Policy; Parliamentary Budget Report

Joint Rules

04 February 2003
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

First Draft

4 February 2002

These minutes prepared by NA Table Staff member, Mr M Xaso:


National Assembly National Council of Provinces

Speake Chairperson of the NCOP

Deputy Speaker Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP

Andrew, K M Botha, C S

Benjamin, J Kgoali, J L

Bhengu, F Lever, L G

Carrim, Y I Lubidla, E N

Cassim, M F Makoela, M I

Chauke, P Majodina, P M

Chohan-Khota, F Nkuna, C

De Lange, J H Setona, T S

De Lille, P Sulliman, M A

Doidge, G Q M Surty, M E

Durand, J Themba, M P

Ellis, M Vilakazi, J Na

Frolick, C T Van Niekerk, A E

George, M E

Gibson, D H M

Green, L M

Greyling, C H F

Jeffrey, J H


Landers, L T

Lee, D

Louw, S K

Mahlangu, M J

Maine, M S

Masutha, M T

Mbuyazi, L R

Modisenyane, L J


Mulder, C P

Nair, B

Nel, A C

Nhleko, N P

Njobe, M A A

Rajbally, S

Ripinga, S S

Sonjica, B P

Sosibo, J E

Seaton, S A

Thabethe, E

Van der Merwe, S C

Staff in attendance:
Mfenyana, S; Coetzee, M; Mbangula, M S; Matyolo, L L; Hahndiek, K; Klassen, L; Keswa, N; Charlton, H; Meyer, L.
Ackermann, C; Bakker, D M ; Durr, K; Dlulane, B N; Cariem, Y; Kolweni, Z S; Kota, Z; Mahlangu, G L; Mbuyazi, L R; Thompson, B; Van Wyk, A; Van der Merwe, J H.
The Agenda was adopted with the Speaker adding the item of the Parliamentary Gallery Association.
On the motion of the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, the minutes were adopted. Ms Seaton seconded the adoption.
3.1 Parliamentary Symbols Campaign
The Speaker indicated that the Presiding Officers and the Whips had had a preliminary meeting and that a follow-up meeting would be held to address specific proposals.
The Chairperson reported that the Whips and Presiding Officers arrived at an agreement at the meeting during the last session. She indicated that submissions had been received from the provincial Whips and parties of the various provinces. She said that the meeting would proceed to the draft design stage to incorporate the views that had been expressed. She added that it had been agreed at the meeting that once submissions had been received, there would be progress and that the meeting had acted accordingly.
The Speaker indicated that there would be another meeting to finalise the matter.
Presiding Officers to arrange another meeting with whips to finalise the matter.

3.2. The Language Policy of Parliament (Agenda Item 4.2.)
The Secretary to Parliament, as per request of the last JRC meeting, reported on the document entitled the Interim Language Policy Proposals.
He mentioned that this document had been received from the Legislation & Oversight Division. He referred the committee to the document and explained the two options discussed therein.
Option 1 provided for simultaneous interpretation and reflected a saving of R1.6 million with regard to the printing of daily papers and an approximate saving of R276 thousand, with regard to Human Resources.
Option 2 proposed that publishing would take place in the same way as Hansard, which meant that the original language would be used, whether written or spoken, and then published together with the English translation. He stated that this option would allow the use of original language by members and that the cost implication would be R1.3 million.
The Speaker referred members to paragraph 3.3. in the minutes of 29 October 2002 and said that the committee had discussed the matter and that party positions had been articulated.
The Deputy Speaker expressed concern that the committee was considering an interim policy. She said that it would be more cost effective if the committee decided on a comprehensive policy. She indicated that she had had discussions with Ms Keswa, who agreed with her, in this regard.
Mr Gibson agreed with the Deputy Speaker and proposed that the committee applied its mind to a final policy and implemented that. He said that the Constitution required equality and promotion of the languages. The committee would be untrue to the Constitution if it took decisions to the contrary. He said he would support the continuation of the present arrangements but proposed that the committee considered other steps to give effect to the constitutional principles. He further proposed that targets and timeframes be set for implementation of the final policy.
Mr Chauke stated that the ANC agreed with Mr Gibson and the Deputy Speaker on the matter.
The Chairperson stated that the committee had agreed to arrive at a decision at the present meeting. She urged the committee to either return to the original submission by Ms Keswa, or choose one of the new options. The original submission had been rejected at the last JRC, due to it not addressing the need to see all the languages, which were utilised, reflected in the records. The Chairperson suggested that Option 2 seemed to address this concern. Option 2 afforded the committee a policy that was cost effective, allowed for multi-lingualism and provided members with the opportunity to express themselves in the language of their choice. She said that a policy was needed to ensure that the documents were available in a language that was generally used all over. She added that option 1 did not fully address that concern, in that the language which members used, would not be available in the record of the daily papers. The Chairperson emphasised that a decision was required.
The Speaker expressed concern that different parties had delayed the process since 1997. She said that Parliament should not be seen to defer difficult decisions. She proposed that the Interim Policy be accepted but that deadlines be set to ensure finalisation of the matter. The Speaker urged parties to choose an option in order for the committee to progress on the matter.
Ms Seaton concurred with the Chairperson of the NCOP and proposed that Option 2 be accepted as it addressed most of the concerns which the committee had. She said that it should only be seen as an interim measures since the committee could develop it from there.
Mr van Niekerk said that he required clarity in regard to whether the daily papers referred to in the document referred to the order papers and the ATC's. In addition, whether it meant that if some of the papers were to be in a second language other than English, these would not be because most of the meetings were conducted mainly in English. He said that as he understood it, Option 2 did not promote multi-lingualism.
In response to the second concern, Ms Keswa stated that the documents would be produced in the language originally used and then translated into English.
The Speaker referred the committee to paragraph (d) on page 4 of the document that lists all the daily papers that were being referred to.
The Chairperson (NCOP) said that option 2 provided the opportunity to members to make full use of the spectrum of languages available to them and that members would therefore have to ensure that they were truly multi-lingual in their practice.
Mr Chauke said that the ANC would not be able to arrive at a decision at the meeting, but would do so at the next JRC.
The Speaker reminded Mr Chauke that the ANC had had since the 29th of October 2002 to arrive at a position.
Dr Benjamin said that the committee should distinguish between policy and implementation. She enquired what the implication of the policy would be if the original English document was not translated into any of the other languages. She mentioned that the problem with the policy was that it was guided towards English only. She said that she understood the cost implications but that clarity should be provided with regard to the problem that she had identified.
Mr Mulder said that the constitutional obligation had certain implications and that Parliament should set an example. He stated that an interim policy often became permanent policy. He supported the proposal of the Deputy-Speaker and said that there should be a permanent policy. He stated that he could not support the advancement of English.
Mr Green referred to the Constitution and said that it was clear that the underlying philosophy in terms of the language policy was the equitable treatment of the eleven languages. He agreed that the interim policy was not addressing the spirit of the Constitution in the equitable treatment of the eleven languages. He added that the committee should head towards a permanent solution. He affirmed that he had initially thought of supporting option 1 but that he had decided in favour of option 2, although savings would be less. He indicated that he had heard the concerns of the Freedom Front but felt that the history of the country and the treatment of Afrikaans until the present day should be understood. He proposed that the committee considered all eleven languages and urged it to afford equity to all eleven languages.
The Speaker indicated that the committee should recognise that the policy agreed upon should move towards the expanding of languages. She said that while this option was fine at the moment, the committee should adopt an option with an addendum. She tasked all parties to make submissions with a phased timescale within two weeks to the Secretary to Parliament. She tasked the Secretary with the costing of the document and with the circulation of a report thereafter. She indicated that there would be a full discussion at the next Joint Rules Committee meeting to look at the different options. The committee would then be able to establish what could be phased in, so that by the end of the year, there would be a plan to realise the constitutional obligations.
Mr van Niekerk enquired whether it meant that the policy would state that all languages would enjoy parity of esteem and be treated equitably and that the committee was working on a plan to get there. The Speaker indicated that would be the first step in a plan to expand the use of all eleven languages.
Mr van Niekerk said that the adoption of option 2 would cause some serious practical problems at this stage. He was concerned that it would mean that committees would use all eleven languages and that that would have to be reflected in the committee report. He said that that was not practical at the moment. He expressed difficulty in understanding how a saving could be made if the papers were not only printed in English.
Mr Jeffrey said that the ANC had considered the option of the interim policy but were of the view that it was important to move towards a final policy. He said that the option put forward by the Chairperson (NCOP) and the Speaker did not fully address the concerns of the ANC. He referred to the national language policy that was released by government in November 2002 and said that there had been no problem in moving speedily towards the adoption of a final policy. The ANC was not in a position to agree to any interim policy. He further reiterated the need to move toward the finalisation of the final policy.
The Speaker expressed concern with parties coming to the JRC with set positions and not being open to discussion and persuasion. She said that she had proposed that the interim policy move towards a final policy within a timeframe given that the process was already started in 1997.
Mr Gibson said the DP had made proposals on the language issue approximately 5 years ago. He stated that the committee needed to finalise the issue and that it would not be able to do so by adopting an interim policy. He expressed the DP's opposition to diminishing the role of Afrikaans in an attempt to save costs. He felt that the committee should not be saving money at the expense of one of the languages but should consider ways to promote all of the languages.
The Chairperson suggested that the committee agree that the parties should submit their proposed policy to the Secretary to Parliament within the next two weeks. The Presiding Officers would then within four weeks convene a special JRC meeting to discuss the issue of the language policy. The proposals would be costed and brought back for consideration by the JRC. She emphasized that there would not be a diminution of one language but development and enhancement of the presence of other languages. She requested that the committee deliberate on the proposal and reach an agreement in order to facilitate progress.
The Speaker indicated that parties should make submissions by the 18th of February 2003 with a phasing in of how the committee should reach a final policy. The costing would be done by the 28th of February 2003. All proposals would be circulated. The JRC would convene a meeting in the middle of March 2003 to exclusively discuss a language policy. In response to the issue of thr quality of interpretation, the Speaker said that parties should include this in their proposals as problems with simultaneous translations were common.
Mr Cassiem proposed that a clearinghouse such as a subcommittee or a task team be established to afford parties the opportunity to reach common ground to ensure that when the JRC had its meeting, a consensual position would prevail.
The Speaker indicated that the Chief Whips Forum would be the place for such a clearinghouse.
Mr Jeffrey suggested that a copy of the language policy released by the Minister of Arts and Culture be distributed to all parties and that the Secretary to Parliament include some comments on the relevance of implementing that policy for Parliament.
The Speaker stated that members should have looked at the policy and that the Secretary or staff should not be expected to give guidance.
The Speaker requested Mr Jeffrey to make his proposals at the ANC policy group. She repeated that by the 18th of February each party would submit proposals with some kind of phase in. By the 28th February, staff will arrive at a costing and on the basis of a feasibility framework, distribute original proposals and a costing document. She mandated the Whips Forum to consider it. She further indicated that a JRC meeting would be convened in mid-March to discuss specifically the matter of a language policy.
Parties to make submissions to the Secretary to Parliament by the 18th of February 2003 with phasing in proposals to arrive at the ultimate objectives in terms of the language policy for Parliament.

The Secretary to Parliament
to consolidate and cost it by the 28th of February 2003.
The Secretary to Parliament
to distribute to all parties all submissions and a document setting out the cost.
to have a special meeting in middle- March 2003 to finalise the issue of a language policy.
3.3 The Report on Airport Parking (Agenda Item 4.3)
The Speaker required clarity regarding which subcommittee was responsible for the report. Mr Mahlangu enquired whether it fell under the Members' Support Subcommittee. The Speaker requested the Secretary to indicate under which agenda item it fell. The Secretary indicated that it was a matter arising and that the Subcommittee on Members Support had discussed the matter. The Speaker requested the Chairperson of the subcommittee, Dr Benjamin, to provide a report to the meeting.
Mr Jeffrey indicated that there had been a report from the subcommittee to the JRC to the effect that it was involved in discussions with the Airports Company (ACSA) around parking for members.
The Speaker indicated that she had requested the Chairperson of the subcommittee to provide the report.
The Chairperson reported that the Secretary had been tasked with negotiating with ACSA and to report to the Presiding Officers. She indicated that the Presiding Officers had received the report. She said that the Presiding Officers still had to meet to finalise the proposal, due to the fact that there were cost implications.
The Speaker indicated that she had returned from leave only the previous day and was not aware of such report.
Ms Kgoali said that the position as set out by the Chairperson captured what Mr Jeffreys had tried to explain. She remarked on the manner in which the Speaker had dealt with Mr Jeffrey's input.
The Speaker said that she requested a report back from the Chairperson of the subcommittee, as she was the authorised person to provide input.
Ms Kgoali said that it was a matter arising and a matter which the Presiding Officers were to report back to the JRC on.
The Speaker said that she had explained that she had not seen the report which had been referred to. She requested the committee to proceed to the next item.
Mr Gibson asked what the offer from the ACSA was. The Deputy Speaker said that it was included in the report of the Internal Arrangements Subcommittee and that it would be dealt with under that item.
The Speaker deferred the matter until then.
Ms Seaton expressed concern with the manner in which things were dealt with in the JRC.
The Speaker said that the staff should have indicated that the matter fell under the Internal Arrangements subcommittee and that the staff should facilitate proceedings. She added that there were problems with the functioning of the subcommittees but that those should not be discussed at the present meeting.
Dr Benjamin said that the Members Support Subcommittee had initially dealt with the matter of airport parking and that the JRC had decided that the Presiding Officers would engage in negotiations with ACSA.
The Speaker said it was a substantive issue that would be discussed under the Report of the Internal Arrangements Subcommittee.
The Chairperson reported that there was a concern as to whether the current arrangements for airport parking were the most efficient. The Chairperson indicated that ACSA had proposed a flat rate to be paid on an annual basis and that members would be allocated an access card. She indicated that there were therefore cost implications. The Presiding Officers would consider the report as soon as possible and would report back to the JRC.
The Presiding Officers to report on the matter at the next JRC.
3.4. Placement of the Statute of Former President N Mandela
(Agenda Item 4.4.)
This matter was deferred until the Internal Arrangement subcommittee's report.
3.5. Report of the Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee
The matter was deferred until after the discussion on the Report of the Joint Subcommittee on the parliamentary budget.
(Agenda Item 8)
The Chairperson referred the committee to the document entitled Report to the Joint Rules Committee on meeting between Parliament and Finance Minister and his staff re: 2003/04 Budget of Parliament.
The Chairperson (NCOP) summarised the first three paragraphs of the report.
The Speaker said that the budget needed to be implemented from a zero baseline. She said that detailed figures would be given to the Joint Budget Subcommittee.
Ms Seaton said that the budget as well as the submission to Minister Manual should be submitted to the Joint Rules Committee so as to involve members in the process. She further stated that the Joint Rules Committee should be acknowledged as the executive authority. Ms Seaton said that the Joint Rues Committee needed to address all the issues before it was referred to the Joint Budget Subcommittee.
Mr Gibson said that considerable progress had been made and congratulated everyone who had been involved in the budget. He agreed that all members and parties should have an opportunity to consider the budget. He further urged the committee to apply their minds to the 2003/04 as well as to the 2004/5 budget. He suggested that the detailed figures be circulated electronically to save costs.
Mr de Lange expressed concern regarding the "critical issue" raised by Minister Manual in paragraph b of the Report which the Chairperson had referred to. He alleged that Minister Manual had not raised the point and said that it was common knowledge that that was the view held by the Presiding Officers. He continued by saying that he thought the point was factually and legally inaccurate.
The Speaker requested Mr de Lange to explain his statement.

Mr de Lange further stated that it was clear that the Presiding Officer's had raised the matter with Mr Manual, but it was being reported to the committee as if the Treasury wanted to raise the matter with the committee.
He repeatedly said that the committee was aware that the Presiding Officer's held that particular view. He indicated that the committee disagreed with that view and that it was the reason for the provision in the Rules, as Ms Seaton had indicated.
He said that the position as reflected in the report was factually and legally incorrect. He explained that, in terms of the Constitution, committees in Parliament did not have the power to make decisions. He added that the Speaker had constantly reminded committees of this point. He said that the Joint Rules Committee decided on matters, the ATC would then reflect that it was the report from the Joint Rules Committee and that the House would then adopt it and the report. If the House did not raise any issue, it would be regarded as the position of the House, not of the Rules Committee or of any committee of Parliament. He then emphasised that it was thus factually incorrect to say that any committee made decisions.
He also said that the legal position was also incorrectly stated. He said that the mandate of the Joint Rules Committee was to create a process whereby members could participate in the management of Parliament. He reiterated that the subcommittees did not have decision-making power but could only make recommendations to the Joint Rules Committee.
He added that the Rules did not change the position in the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act. He said that the legal situation was that according to the Act, the Secretary to Parliament is the Accounting Officer. However that this was subject to the Presiding Officers, and in particular to the Speaker. He reiterated that the legal situation reflected that the Accounting Officer remained the Secretary, with the Presiding Officers having the overruling power.
He emphasised that the Rules committee and the subcommittees are structures created to enable members to participate in the processes in Parliament but that the Speaker and Secretary to Parliament present the budget.
He stated that there was no problem in having differences of opinion but that
it should be addressed factually. He said that the Presiding Officers repeatedly said that the committee was not an executive authority. He acknowledged that this was the correct position until such time that the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act was changed.
He however indicated that the committee had changed the Rules to the effect that the Speaker would not be able to decide the policies of Parliament. He emphasized that the members had created a process whereby they could participate, but that the Presiding Officers ultimately had decision- making power.
He said that it was unfortunate that the issue had been raised with the Minister. He added that he wanted to point out that it was the view held by the Presiding Officers and that the Committee did not share it.

The Speaker said that Mr de Lange had made a very serious allegation that the Presiding Officers had raised the issue with Mr Manual. The Speaker requested Mr de Lange to either substantiate his statement or to withdraw it. She said that he was entitled to his opinion and that she did not have a problem with that. She however again requested him to either substantiate or withdraw.
Mr de Lange said that he would first speak to Mr Manual.
The Speaker reiterated that he withdraw or substantiate the statement.
Mr de Lange refused and said he would first have to speak to Mr Manual. He further said that he would not withdraw anything that he did not have proof of.
The Speaker said that she would not preside over a meeting in which such allegations were made and therefore adjourned the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 10:45.
…………………………… ………………………

F N Ginwala, M P G N M Pandor, MP
Speaker of the NA Chairperson of the NCOP


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