The meeting was called with the aim of electing a Committee Chairperson. Members however engaged in lengthy discussion over procedural matters relating to the election of a Chairperson as well as on the appointment of alternate members to attend meetings in place of full time Members that were absent from meetings. Some issues raised were about the attendance of Members at meetings, the rights of Alternate Members filling in for absent full time Members, and the right for them to vote on proceedings in meetings and as well as the manner in which voting took place. Many of these issues remained unresolved and the Committee agreed to defer the election of a Chairperson to a future meeting until the aforementioned issues were resolved.
Mr Hluhpeka Mtileni, Parliamentary Committee Secretary, in the interim acted as Chairperson for proceedings. He said a quorum of Members was required in order for a Chairperson to be elected. The voting for a Chairperson would be done by a showing of hands by Members.
Mr J Londt (DA, Western Cape) asked what constituted a quorum of Members and where did it say that voting should be done by a showing of hands.
Mr Mtileni explained that rule 96(1) of the rules of Parliament required that at least five Members must be present in order for a meeting to quorate. A showing of hands had been the norm in Parliament when voting took place. There was nothing in the rules about voting with a showing of hands.
Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) asked why the voting could not be done by secret ballot.
Mr B Nthebe (ANC. North West) said Members could decide whether they wished to vote by secret ballot or by a show of hands since the rules were silent in this regard.
Mr Londt referred to the presence of the Chief Whip of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in the meeting Ms H Mateme (ANC, Limpopo) and asked whether Ms Mateme had voting rights in the meeting.
Adv Mongana Tau, Unit Manager: Committee Section, pointed out that Members represented provinces. Where a Member representing a specific province was absent from a meeting an Alternate Member from that province could take such Member’s place in a meeting. Ms Mateme took the place of Ms M Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo) who had tendered an apology for not being able to attend the meeting. Hence Ms Mateme had voting rights just as any other Member did.
Mr Faber was not convinced about the explanation given. He pointed out that Ms Dikgale was a member of the Committee. Ms Mateme did not appear of the list of the Committee’s Alternate Members. If she were to stand in for Ms Dikgale, Ms Mateme should have been on the list of Alternate Members for the Committee.
Adv Tau responded that he understood that any Member of Parliament had participating rights just as any other Member of a committee. He stated that the voting rights of a full member from a particular province, if absent, was placed upon the alternate member from that province standing in for that full Member of the Committee.
Mr Londt asked whether it was any Member of Parliament from that particular province that had voting rights as that of the full time Member from that province. He felt it to be against the rules of Parliament. If the ruling party attended Committee meetings as they should the Committee’s business could go ahead. It was a problem when ruling party Members did not pitch up for meetings. Ms Mateme was not listed as an Alternate Member of the Committee and thus was not entitled to vote.
Mr S Mthimunye (ANC, Mpumalanga) read out a rule of Parliament which stated that Alternate Members could be appointed.
Mr Faber pointed out that Ms Mateme had not been appointed as an Alternate Member of the Committee. She was not an Alternate Member of the Committee. He asked to be shown where it was reflected that she was appointed as an Alternate Member of the Committee. He asked for proof and threatened to leave the meeting accompanied by Mr Londt.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) explained that where a Member had been appointed as an Alternate Member to a committee then the Member had to discuss his/her participation in that Committee with their political party. The political party would decide whether the member would be or not be an alternate of a committee. It was not up to the Committee to decide whether the Member would be an alternate or not.
Mr Faber pointed out that Ms E van Lingen (DA, Western Cape), who used to be a member of the Committee, had to apply to become an Alternate Member of the Committee on Finance when she was still a Member of Parliament. She was not allowed to sit in on meetings of the Committee on Finance. She also did not have voting rights in the Committee on Finance. He wanted the issue to be resolved or else he and Mr Londt would leave the meeting.
Mr Mthimunye said the DA had to attend meetings in order to fulfil their duty as Members of Parliament and had to do their work. The Committee would elect a Chairperson and the Chairperson would come from the ANC.
Adv Tau said that Committee Staff was there to provide support. Committee Staff did not get embroiled in political debates. He had discussed the matter with Ms Mateme and they had agreed that her presence in the meeting did not necessarily mean that she would vote. Ms Mateme would not vote but would only participate on discussions that might emanate.
Mr Mtileni stressed that the matter of electing a Chairperson needed to be finalised.
Mr Mthimunye said that Members of the majority party who were not present in the meeting had tendered apologies. He suggested that the matter of electing a Chairperson for the Committee be deferred to a future meeting.
Mr Londt said the attendance of Members at meetings needed to be discussed. It seemed as if the same five Members attended meetings of the Committee and for the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations. The Chief Whip of the Committee needed to address the issue. The Committees could not only function on the attendance of the same five members whilst seven or eight members got a free ride.
Ms Mateme stated the present Committee meeting was not the only one which she attended. She could not understand why there was such an issue with her attending the meeting. When Ms Dikgale notified her that she was unable to make the meeting she had agreed to stand in for her to represent the Limpopo Province. The issues raised by Members were taken seriously.
Mr Nthebe supported the suggestion made by Mr Mthimunye to defer the election of a Chairperson for the Committee to another time. He felt that Adv Tau should be of more assistance to the Committee. It was not good enough for Adv Tau to simply be a spectator to proceedings. He asked that Adv Tau come prepared in the next meeting of the Committee when a Chairperson was to be elected. What Mr Londt had raised was factually correct but it was not only Members of the ruling party that were absent from meetings but also Members of other political parties.
Mr Mtileni said a quorum of Members was present, and asked whether the Committee still wished to defer the election of a Chairperson to another time.
Mr Nthebe responded that Members had already agreed that the matter of electing a Chairperson of the Committee should be deferred. The Chief Whip of the Committee needed to sort out issues of Members’ attendance to meetings. Committee Section should sort out procedural matters.
Adv Tau said the issue of electing a Chairperson could continue as the meeting was quorating. If Members however felt it necessary to defer the matter to a future meeting it would be done.
Mr Nthebe once again responded that the Committee had already agreed to defer the matter.
Mr Mtileni stated that the matter of electing a Chairperson of the Committee was deferred to a future meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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