Administrative Adjudication Road Traffic Offences Bill: Motion of desirability, draft report on Bill; BRRR adopted

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16 November 2016
Chairperson: Ms D Magadzi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

2016 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The Committee adopted the motion of desirability of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill. They then turned to a discussion of the Committee's report on the Bill. Members asked whether there was anything in the report mentioning the double jeopardy and demerit system, on which several expressed their concerns, believing it to be quite draconian. It was explained that since this was not actually included in the current Bill it was not mentioned in the Report; this provision had been passed as part of the principal Act but never put into effect. However it was suggested that if Members felt strongly on the issue and would like that to be revisited, they should include their concerns in the Bill and request that it be looked at again. Several Members expressed their disquiet that the Department and its Agencies seemed to be using the Committee not so much as a forum for meaningful consultation, but as one that would merely be asked to rubber-stamp issues that were predetermined by the executive. One example of this was seen in the Road Traffic Infringement Agency having already placed advertisements for tenders to manage the AARTO processes, notwithstanding the fact that the Bill had not yet been passed. After discussion, Members agreed that they would write to the Minister and the Board expressing the Committee's dissatisfaction, and if necessary call in the responsible officials; one Member suggested that since the placing of adviertisements was premature this would be seen as an improper expense that the officials should be held personally liable to repay. Members adopted the report, as amended.

The Committee then adopted the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report, with the changes suggested at the last meeting.

Members noted that the Passenger Rail Agency South Africa (PRASA) had not yet responded to the Committee with the information that it had promised to send, and agreed that this should be put back on the agenda as a standing item until the questions had been answered.

Members also wondered why this Committee had not been briefed on the Border Management Authority Bill being handled by the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, since the Minister of Transport was a key role player and the taxi services would be directly affected. The implications would need to be fully understood, especially since taxi owners on the Free State / Lesotho route had not yet reached agreement on their methods of operating; the Chairperson had received several letters in this regard. Members agreed that they would call for a briefing on the Bill as soon as possible.

Meeting report

Administrative Adjudication Road Traffic Offences Bill: Motion of desirability, Committee's interim report on Bill
The Committee Secretary reminded Members that they had been emailed two documents; the Motion of Desirability on the Administrative Adjudication of road Traffic Offences Bill (the AARTO Bill) and the interim report of the Committee on the Bill. 

Members adopted the Motion of Desirability of the Bill.

Members then turned to consider the report

Mr M Maswanganyi (ANC) asked where, in the report, the double jeopardy demerit system was covered. He had issues with the taking away of a driver’s licence and license discs.

Adv Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said that the demerit system was already set out in the principal Act and was not part of the amendment Bill. Although it was in theory already in the Act, that particular section had not been put into effect as yet by the President's proclamation. If the Committee wanted the demerit system to be amended, it would have to raise that and give an instruction in the report and put it to the House.

Mr Maswanganyi expressed the view that taking away a driver’s license and disc would be draconian. This was an issue that had been raised several times. He said he had a problem with the Department of Transport (the Department) and with agencies who seemed to come to the Committee with predetermined decisions that they suggested the Committee should take.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) agreed that this issue should be included in the Committee's report for if nothing was said the status quo would be accepted. Raising it would allow the issue to be tested and canvassed. He agreed that some of the issues were controversial such as the immobilisation of vehicles.

Ms S Xego (ANC) said that the missing stakeholders should be canvassed.

The Chairperson asked the legal advisers to redraft the report in order to include these points just mentioned.

Adv Alma Nel, Director: Legal and Policy Research, Office of the MEC, Gauteng Department of Transport, said Members could probably expand on the last bullet point on the clause on apportionment of penalties in the report which would cover the issue of double jeopardy and immobilisation.

Mr C Hunsinger (DA) asked if the bullet points were specific to the amendments, or whether it would be possible to amend the main body of the report. He thought that the bullet points were merely examples.

The Committee Secretary confirmed that these were examples, and the points made were not limited to the bullet points.

Mr Ramatlakane asked if public consultation was implied in the report.

The Committee Secretary said that it was not implied and that it would be prudent to have public hearings to prevent constitutional challenges to the Bill later.

Mr Maswanganyi said it would be important to decide how the public participation was motivated. This Committee had to be careful not to infringe on the NCOP’s role. It was, however, important that key stakeholders were acknowledged.

Mr Ramatlakane said that one of the Committee's concerns was whether it could do public consultation outside of Cape Town. He suggested that a short sentence should be included in the report which indicated the need to reach out to the public. He would support a motion to have public participation.

Adv Mongameli Kweta, Office of the State Law Advisor, agreed that there should be public involvement and that it would be in line with the Constitution.

The Committee Secretary said it was not necessary for this point to be included in the report because public hearings could still be done by the Committee whether or not it was included.

Mr Maswanganyi pointed out that public participation would have financial implications.

The Chairperson said she had read a news item in which the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) were essentially pre-empting what the Committee was doing.

Mr Ramatlakane said the RTIA had already placed advertisements for tenders to manage the Amendment Act, although the Bill had not even been finalised yet.  This reinforced the view that the Agency appeared to be merely using the Committee as a sounding board and going ahead with its own decisions. The Committee had to make a statement to clarify the position, because money was being used for an Act that had not yet been promulgated. Those responsible for the advertisement also should be called in to explain their actions as this advertisement was inappropriate.

Mr Maswanganyi said the Committee had an oversight responsibility, and agreed that a letter should be written noting the tender advertisement and asking the Agency to explain themselves. Alternatively, he suggested that the Committee should write to the Minister and the Board Chairperson indicating that the Committee had noted and had taken issue on the tender.

The Chairperson said the issue needed to be highlighted with the Minister in any event.

Mr M Sibande (ANC) agreed that the placement of the advertisement was worrying. He supported the proposal that the Committee should write to the Minister, and asked if it was possible to call the Agency to a Committee meeting to account for its actions.

Mr Ramatlakane said a letter should be sent to the Minister and the Board Chairperson as a matter of urgency, since the closing date of the tender was 2 December 2016.

Mr G Radebe (ANC) agreed and said that the point being made applied not only to the RTIA, but also to several other entities. The Portfolio Committee was not a rubber stamp that would automatically support whatever the entities were doing, and they should be brought in line.

Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) also agreed that a letter must be written, adding that there had already been improper expenditure in placing an advertisement. He wanted those responsible for that decision to be held accountable for the monies spent, and suggested that they should be asked to repay from their own pockets. and that it be repaid from their pockets.

The meeting adjourned briefly for the additional suggestions to be included in the draft Report.

Members then adopted the Report, as amended.

Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR): adoption
The Chairperson said that proposals for changes to the BRRR made on the previous day had now been incorporated into the report.

Members adopted the BBR Report.

Other business
Mr Ramatlakane said the Committee had unfinished business regarding Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) and its Board. He asked how far the draft report had gone, which was dealing with the engagement of the Committee with PRASA and setting out the Committee's findings. He also asked whether PRASA had now forwarded the list of documents requested from it some months ago.  He asked that the matter should be put back on the Committee’s agenda, to avoid it falling by the wayside.

The Committee Secretary said no documents had been received from PRASA or the Department. The deadline had been 8 November 2016. She had sent a note to a director in the Office of the Director General to find out when the Committee would receive the documents.

The Chairperson proposed that the Committee write another letter to the Minister, saying that PRASA had been requested to provide the Committee with documents, and request her intervention in this matter.

Mr Hunsinger expressed concerns that the Border Management Authority Bill, being considered by the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs. Even though the Minister of Transport was regarded as a key stakeholder in coordination strategies, and the Bill had implications therefore for this Committee, nothing had been formally presented to the Committee. He wanted to voice his concerns on that and asked that the Bill must be officially presented to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that she would engage with the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs. She noted that she had been receiving intimidating calls from Ficksburg and Quaggas Nek, from cross border taxi associations. A letter from the Minister had noted that cross border licencing was to be opened between 1 August 2016 until 2017, and this was a bone of contention for the taxi associations. She had had an engagement with the Chief Executive Officer of the Cross Border Road Transport Agency (CBRTA) and with the Deputy Director General of the Department of Transport, Mr Hlabisa, to discuss the steps that the CBRTA was taking. The taxi association was saying that in the festive season there would not be licensed taxis going to Lesotho, without interacting with the taxi association in the Free State. She had tried meeting with the new Free State MEC for Transport, but had not managed to do that and so she had asked that the Minister engage with the MEC. This might ruffle the feathers of associations in the other border areas, which were currently quiet. The taxi associations wanted an urgent meeting with the Committee before the festive season. She pointed out that the Committee's programme was already very full.

The meeting was adjourned.

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