The Committee reviewed the draft of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (the Report) on the work of the Department of Cooperative Governance. Members were happy with the structure of the report, but made some recommendations to improve the wording. Members agreed that the work in Programme 5 was causing some problems, but agreed that the wording should refer to the Department rather than the programme, as it was the Department who had been unable to achieve targets. They wanted to tighten the wording to make it clear that there was room for improvement. Members discussed whether the Committee should call the provinces to account and agreed that it was desirable that the Department itself must engage with the provinces and obtain reports and try to achieve greater consistency and ensure that provinces were fulfilling the national aims and plans. Although the Committee would be within its rights to summon anyone to account, including the provincial MECs, practicalities meant that the Committee would be unable to engage with every provincial entity. They corrected the report on the audit results, noting that only the SA Local Government Association had achieved an unqualified report with no findings.
Members then discussed other business. The Committee and Department had been invited to a meeting with the Women in the Presidency, and the Department suggested that perhaps there was no point in attending since the matters on the agenda no longer fell directly under the purview of the Department. However, the Chairperson made it clear that Members dealt with a host of issues and that it was particularly important for all departments to recognise their general responsibilities to ensure that gender equality was achieved, and that traditional affairs had a direct impact on many of the issues on the agenda. Members noted that industry development workshops would also be very important. They then discussed whether the Committee would be able to visit all provinces, as was desirable, but concluded that budgetary limitations and no chance of obtaining extra funding meant that it would perforce have to confine its visits to the five provinces of Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State, for this financial year. Although the Committee had applied for extra funding it had already been told that it could not be made available. A suggestion that Members split their visits and visit provinces closest to them individually was not generally supported.
Department of Cooperative Governance 2016 Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson noted that Members had received a draft of the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR or the Report) for the Department of Cooperative Governance, for 2016, and commented that he thought the structure of the Report was fine. Members agreed.
He then referred Members to page 7 and said that he thought that Programme 5 was causing some difficulty in general.
Ms B Maluleke (ANC) referred to page 11. She suggested that the wording should refer to “the Department” (of Cooperative Governance) and not “the programme”, because it was the Department who was unable to achieve, and not the programme that was causing the problem.
The Chairperson agreed, and said that page 12 also referred to “the Department”.
Ms Maluleke suggested that on page 24, under point 4.2, the phrase ‘and Traditional Affairs’ should be removed, as it was repetitious.
The Chairperson did not agree and expressed the view that in fact the wording speaks to different issues, governance and challenges.
Mr N Masondo (ANC) referred to page 27. The wording was not quite correct and he suggested that it should be rephrased to suggest that there was still always room for improvement.
The Committee proposed that the wording on page 30 should be rather couched as a request.
Mr Masondo suggested that the Committee may need to change its approach, and look at calling the provinces also to account, and to that end he suggested that there should be consultation between the Committee and provinces. He further said the resolutions section should speak to linking the work in the provinces to the national plan, as many provinces had contradicting plans.
Mr Masondo added that in effect many issues were dealt with at provincial level, and that meant that not every entity in every province could be called upon to report to the Committee, as it would soon be overwhelmed. He suggested rather that the Committee should appoint a team to write recommendations and report that the matters would be looked into.
The Chairperson suggested that this point could be dealt with under the Committee's reporting request, as that would not cause a lot of problems. He reminded Members that the Committee has the legal power to call anyone to account, so it was possible to, for instance, call in the MEC for Cooperative Governance from any province; the Committee had already called the MEC from Limpopo to come to account to the Committee. However, he agreed also that the Department could do more at provincial level.
Mr C Matsepe (DA) agreed with the Chairperson and added that the MECs were usually called in under extreme circumstances.
The Chairperson further stated that whatever entity was corresponding with this Committee, it must give the information requested. However, should this Committee still feel the need to call someone in to account personally, they still had the right to do so, and that should be made clear.
Mr A Mudau (ANC) made the point that the choice of the title “cooperative”implied that the work must be done at and reach out to all spheres of government, not just the national Department.
Members noted that the BRRR referred to the audit result being “unqualified with no findings”. However, they agreed that the only entity that had achieved an unqualified report with no findings was the South African Local Government Association.
The Chairperson asked that this point must be corrected.
The Chairperson stated that the mandate of this Committee is to adopt the Report.
Mr Matsepe said the mandate was not to provide a comment on the Report.
Members agreed that they did not have any issue with adopting the Report.
The Committee adopted the report.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee of an invitation to attend a meeting with the Women in the Presidency Committee.
Mr Lebo Tekane, Representative, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) mentioned that the Women in the Presidency Committee had invited the Ministry to attend this meeting. However, the Directors-General had advised that the issues to be covered in that meeting no longer fell under the role of the Department and therefore a letter would be sent formally to the Chairperson noting that it did not seem to make sense for the Department to report back on issues for which it was no longer responsible.
Mr Masondo said that he did not want his comment to be regarded as controversial, but he did think that the gender emancipation issues that were being dealt with by the Women in the Presidency were very important and to that extent he did not think it correct for any other department or ministry to suggest that it had “nothing to do with” these issues. He believed that the Committee should honour the invitation and engage with the Women in Presidency on issues of gender emancipation.
The Chairperson added that all departments should be discussing gender issues. This Committee would attend and engage, even if responsibility for gender issues overall did not lie with Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Members of Parliament had a responsibility to deal with all issues and the Committee would attend. The Committee would be looking at issues relating to gender as raised by the South African Human Rights Commission, including giving bursaries to virgins, issues around treatment of rape victims and other issues. He urged Members to read around the topics that would be discussed in the following week and stressed that they were related to traditional affairs matters.
The Chairperson then referred to the issue of industry development workshops, saying that this was an important topic to which people must be invited to comment.
He noted that a budget of R5 million had been set aside for the public hearings but thought that this was excessive.
He suggested the Committee should try to visit all provinces, but there was insufficient budget to plan for this to happen by the end of the year. He suggested that as a contingency plan, the Committee should acknowledge the need to visit all the provinces, but recognise that there was insufficient funding and therefore begin with visits to the provinces that were originally budgeted for; namely Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State. Even if the Committee was invited to gala dinners or functions in other provinces, for which budget was not originally allocated, it should not confirm that it could attend as yet. He thought that a week should be set aside for the visits, which the Committee should try to complete before end November, and that R2.5 million had been budgeted.
Mr E Mthetwa (ANC) suggested that Members should confirm their attendance. He asked if the Committee could make application for funding and if so, how far that had gone.
The Chairperson said there had been a response from Parliament already, saying there was no more money, as the Committee had exhausted the available funding already. He suggested that the entire team should therefore visit the five provinces allocated originally, by end November and none of these should be excluded.
Mr Tekane commented that if there was no more money available, the Committee would not be able to do anything before April 2017 and the start of the new financial year. This was a tricky issue as the Committee was constitutionally obliged to try to reach out to all provinces.
Mr Mthethwa proposed that in order for the Committee to function effectively on its small budget, Members should try to visit the provinces close to them at any particular time.
The Chairperson thought that this would not work. Members were drawn from different provinces, and this would split the Committee. He suggested it would be better if Members concentrated on putting together a proposal very soon.
The meeting was adjourned.
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