Transkei Road Transport Corporation & Tolbati Petitions: Committee Reports

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

30 November 2016
Chairperson: Mr S Thobejani (ANC; Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary

Documents Handed Out:
Draft Committee Report on Transkei Road Transport Corporation Petition Report
Draft Committee Report on the Tolbati Petition Report
Draft Committee Minutes dated 23 November 2016
Interim Committee Programme: First Term 2017 
[All Committee Reports available under Tabled Committee Reports once published]

The Committee met to finalise a number of internal matters ahead of the rising of Parliament for the 2016 year. The Committee began by considering its Draft Report on the Transkei Road Transport Corporation Petition Report dated 30 November 2016. Looking at recommendations in the report, Members emphasised the role of the Departments of Labour, Transport, National Treasury and the Eastern Cape Province in the matter in terms of unfair labour practices and funds being tied up in financial institutions. Members were distressed that many of the workers were living and dying in poverty while their families were left destitute. The Committee wanted an investigation into the matter to be conducted involving the role players and for report back to be provided to the Committee within six months. Members also found that some of the responses provided were unacceptable and there was agreement that more information was required for the Committee to make more conclusive recommendations. The matter should also involve the Select Committees on Labour and Finance. The report of the Committee would be amended to reflect these discussions held today.

After considering the Draft Committee Report on the Tolbati Petition the Committee considered its draft minutes for 23 November 2016 where Members agreed that the minutes should be amended to reflect the fact that Mr T Mohapi (ANC) was nominated as Acting Chairperson of the meeting in line with the provisions of the rules. Members also felt that all actions taken by the Committee within its formal sitting and matters arising should also be included in the minutes and all minutes moving forward. The draft Committee minutes dated 23 November 2016 was adopted with amendments.

The Committee also adopted its interim programme for the first term of 2017 with amendments. Thereafter, the Committee discussed its pending study tour to India – Members were informed by staff that the Indian Parliament was experiencing challenges with disruptions in the House, widespread protests and a devalued currency resulting in the Indian Parliament falling behind with some of its work. Some Members felt it might be best to postpone the study tour to India due to the short amount of time left for the last parliamentary term of 2016 and out of consideration for domestic affairs in India. Other Members felt that if the Indian Parliament indicated its ability to host the Committee, Members should embark on the tour. The Committee would receive final status on the matter by the Chairperson on Friday. 

Meeting report

Committee Business
Apologies were noted from Mr G Michalakis (DA; Free State) and Ms G Manolope (ANC; Northern Cape).

Draft Committee Report on the Transkei Road Transport Corporation (TRTC) Petition Report dated 30 November 2016
The Committee perused the report page by page. On Committee observations and findings, Members engaged in discussion.

Mr T Mohapi (ANC; Free State) requested that one of the observations be amended noting that it was important that accrued interest from the funds be captured in the report.

Turning to recommendations, Mr Mohapi noted that there were very unfair labour practices – commitments made were not honoured but unfortunately nothing was dealt with. As this was a labour related matter, the role of the Department of Labour was important also with issues of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). Alignment of legislation was also key to ensure gaps were closed and that such a situation was not repeated again.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM; Eastern Cape) noted that he was involved with the workers in drafting the petition and was assisting them in getting their pension monies. Alexander Forbes, at the time, said the workers had received all their monies. At the same time the official at Alexander Forbes said there were some workers owed money and the question then was, why were these people not notified that there was money they were owed? It was very clear that they did not want to pay the workers their money. The other issue was that there were many assets in the TRTC with sizable properties, vehicles, machinery etc all over the former Transkei. What happened to these assets or the money received from these assets? If companies were liquidated, the first thing they did was to pay their workers – this was the norm. It was also quite true that these workers did not receive their UIF. His suggestion was that the matter be thoroughly investigated involving Labour, Transport and Treasury (because there were monies in financial institutions). Some of these workers had died in poverty without receiving their monies- he assisted in some funerals, financially and otherwise. There was also an amount of money invested in FNB, almost R30 million, sitting in the bank and gaining interest. He reiterated the suggestion that the matter be handed over to Treasury, the Finance Committee and other institutions to further investigate where the monies were.

The Chairperson thought the recommendations of the Committee in the report should be structured in a systematic way according to responsible government departments, including the Eastern Cape Province – these departments would be Labour, Finance and Transport along with the relevant Eastern Cape provincial department. A timeframe should also be provided for the investigation, perhaps six months. Time could not be wasted particularly because many of the workers had already passed on and their families were left in destitution.

Mr Mohapi felt the matter did not receive the necessary attention it deserved – the Committee should register its dissatisfaction with the manner in which the matter was handled and direct that there should be further investigation wherein a report should be tabled before the Committee within six months. The investigation should be inclusive of all relevant stakeholders. The Committee should also ascertain who should spearhead the process and spell out that an audit as required of all assets pre and post-insolvency. The Committee should also get a comprehensive indication of all employees in terms of benefits – this list should be inclusive of the employee’s names and ID number to assist the Committee in arriving at a particular conclusion. At this stage there were more questions than answers. All the relevant stakeholders should constitute a task team to investigate this matter – the team must appear before the Committee on the outcome. The impression was that people were trying to hide behind the provisions of the law.

The Chairperson added that there should also be explanation of how a company was liquidated or declared insolvent without ensuring all workers were paid. 

Ms B Engelbrecht (DA; Gauteng) found some glaring omissions in the report such as Labour which appeared to just wash its hands of the matter when at the end of the day the matter was a Labour related one. The Committee should be strong in its wording or submission to the Department of Labour. Some of the responses were unacceptable especially when these were workers living and dying in poverty because their funds were not being paid out. The Committee needed to ensure it was briefed properly by the Department of Labour as they were responsible at the end of the day. The Committee would also have to get information from Treasury on the sale of the assets – this was critical along with the fact that the beneficiaries were not contacted. The dire nature of the matter required for the Committee to prioritise this kind of petition – the Committee should hasten and fast track this petition as it was exceptionally sad.

Mr Gaehler pleaded that Treasury spearhead this investigation because the province had failed its people and most of the money was with financial institutions like Old Mutual, FNB and Alexander Forbes. It would be to the benefit of the Committee if Treasury spearheaded the matter.

Ms T Mokwele (EFF; North West) thought the Committee lacked more information from other institutions to enable the forming of conclusive recommendations. There were many questions which required clarity. The submission from Labour did not add any value and it seemed as if the Department was hiding behind legislation. The Committee should not rush into having recommendations but rather have another engagement to secure more and proper information especially from Labour and Treasury if it was needed.                                                                                                   

Mr D Ximbi (ANC; Western Cape) questioned whether the matter could not be tasked with another investigation unit within government as the Committee had information and some leads – the unit could then report back to the Committee.

Mr M Mhlanga (ANC; Eastern Cape) thought it would be too early for the Committee to task any investigation unit – all role players involved should appear before the Committee and then an investigation could be looked at.

Mr Mohapi agreed that beginning an investigation at this stage might be premature – the Committee had not yet made any determination. The role players involved should be afforded an opportunity to provide further clarity to questions the Committee still had.

The Chairperson felt all points raised by Members were important – all points now needed to be consolidated. It was also important to involve the Select Committees on Labour and Finance for oversight purposes and ensure the matter was not repeated moving forward. It was possible that other petitions could be stimulated from other provinces. The provisions of cooperative governance would be used while it was important that the six months timeframe suggested be emphasised.

Mr Mohapi asked when the other Select Committees would be engaged.

The Chairperson said it would be after the report was taken to the House.

Mr Ximbi emphasised that coordination was required.

The Chairperson was concerned about putting too much emphasis on Select Committees when the emphasis should instead be on the whole of Parliament to really enforce the six months timeframe suggested. The report would now be finalised as the Committee had agreed today. 

Draft Committee Report on the Tolbati Petition Report
Mr Mohapi requested the Committee take note of the house returned to Mr Tolbati. It was important for the Chairperson to make a press statement because people being dishonest to each other were a norm in the country. This was especially so with RDP houses – it was important to stipulate the pros and cons of dealing with issues of tenants to the public.

The Chairperson said such matters would be highlighted in a public statement.

Draft Committee Minutes dated 23 November 2016
Mr Mohapi suggested that the minutes reflect that he was the acting Chairperson of the meeting.

Ms Mokwele added it should be reflected that the Committee nominated Mr Mohapi to chair the meeting in terms of the rule applicable in the absence of the Chairperson. In future, all actions taken by the Committee within its formal sitting, and matters arising, should be captured in the minutes. The meeting with the Chief Whip should also be captured in terms of the delay with the study tour.

The draft Committee minutes dated 23 November 2016 were adopted with amendments by Mr J Mthethwa (ANC; KZN) and the motion was seconded Mr Mhlanga.

Interim Committee Programme: First Term 2017
The Chairperson noted that the first three weeks of the first parliamentary term of 2017 would be committee weeks. There was also a possibility of a study tour in these three weeks either led by the Justice or Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Committees.

Mr Mohapi felt that the Committee should look at developing its own Annual Performance Plan to enable Members to assess whether progress was being made with Committee work. This would be especially useful in terms of key performance areas, indicators and targets. This would enable the Committee to influence processes and outcomes.

The Chairperson said this could be arranged.

Mr Mohapi, looking at petitions and Executive undertakings, suggested the Committee officials also assist in looking at the nature of the petitions.

The Chairperson noted that a resolution of the House was taken with regards to the study tour. The date now needed to be finalised along with the necessary programming.

The interim Committee programme for the first term of 2017 was adopted with amendments by Ms T Wana (ANC; Eastern Cape) and the motion was seconded by Mr Mhlanga.

Committee Study Tour to India
Mr Gurshwyn Dixon, Secretary: Select Committee on Security and Justice, outlined to the Committee that the political application had been made. The financial application was being finalised. The Joint Secretary in the Indian Parliament had been contacted and had indicated that there were House disruptions, wide spread protests and the currency was being devalued. The Indian Parliament, as a result, was behind in its work including that of the processing of Bills. The mission indicated it was still hopeful so things on the side of the NCOP were still being put in place should the go-ahead from India be received – this was the current status. 

Mr Moses Manele: Secretary: Select Committee on COGTA, added that the managers in charge of the admin unit were also involved. A request was submitted to the unit via the service provider to provide quotations with regard to accommodation and transport for Members. It was hoped that proper communication would be made before the end of the day.

Ms Mokwele noting that sometimes when there were obstacles or hindrances with a trip, it was a sign that it should be cancelled. She suggested the trip be suspended for the year because there was now only a week left – the tour could be taken early next year during the Committee weeks.

Mr Mohapi was pleased that there were no internal challenges but that the challenges were on the side of the Indian Parliament. The state of affairs in India should not just be overlooked because protests raised concerns about issues of security. He felt the Committee should be considerate of Indian domestic matters and agreed that the trip be postponed to another date. A date could be selected within the Committee weeks of the first term of 2017.

Mr Dixon indicated that the Chief Whip also had specific dates proposed to the Indian Parliament – it might be difficult for India to host two delegations at the same time so coordination should be explored. The Chief Whips proposed dates were 23 – 27 January, 20 – 24 March and 27 – 31 March 2017.

Mr M Chetty (DA; KZN) reminded Members that the idea was to have petitions done and dusted this year so that next year the Committee could hit the floor running with backlogs. The Committee also had a study tour set for March so during the first term of 2017 the Committee would be out of the country twice. It would also be useful if the Committee visited parliaments who had similar experiences and challenges to SA.

Mr Mhlanga said the Committee also had the mandate of Executive undertakings – the more the tour was postponed, the chances of it being approved would also decrease. He felt the Committee should embark on the study tour to India regardless of the challenges and difficulties if the country was able to host the Committee. The trip was a study tour and not a leisurely one – the study tour would also assist the Committee in executing its duties next year.

Mr Gaehler highlighted that when he went on a study tour to Mexico, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) arranged the hotels and the meals – the dinner of Members were snacks so it was important that the Chairperson was hands-on with arrangements including that of the stipend - there was no policy in the NCOP for stipends.

Mr Ximbi concurred with Members that the Committee embark on the study tour to the Indian Parliament provided the country could host the Committee – the Committee had been ready to embark on the tour for a long time. The opportunity should not be missed.

Ms Wana thought this was a gap which needed to be closed – a policy on stipends needed to be in place because using discretion in this regard was not good. Chairpersons and the whippery should collectively monitor the trip in terms of financial management and ensure gaps were closed.

The Chairperson heard the views of Members and said it would all be noted. He would be working closely with the staff on the matter – a final status would be provided to Members by Friday.

Ms Mokwele noted that the item of international matters was tabled before the whippery yesterday but it was not discussed because the relevant person was absent. It was clear that the office of the Chief Whip was run by officials – she requested that the matter be debated. Dates of the Chief Whip for the trip were never agreed to and so she would reject those dates.

Mr Mohapi urged Members not to divert from the real purpose of the meeting – the Committee operated within the prescripts of the rules. Part of the trip was specifically based on the Committee studying the best practices and model of Executive Undertakings and not how India, or any other country, handled its protests and other domestic matters.

Mr Chetty noted that Members on study tours were ambassadors to SA.  

Mr Mohapi emphasised the Committee attended study tours on a particular mandate and motivation for the tour should be confined to that basis.

The Chairperson highlighted that the final status of the study tour to India would be made known to Members on Friday.

The meeting was adjourned.




 

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