Annual Request for Public Submissions: planning

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Meeting report

CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE

CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
14 April 2003
ANNUAL REQUEST FOR PUBLIC SUBMISSIONS: PLANNING

Chairperson:
Adv SP Holomisa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Advert calling for Public Submissions in 2002 (Appendix 1)
Programme of the Review Committee for the Year 2003 (Appendix 2)
Joint Constitutional Review Committee Brief (Appendix 3)

SUMMARY
The Committee made preparations for a public notice calling for constitutional submissions from public members. In terms of Section 45(1)(c) of the Constitution and Rule 102 of the Parliament Joint Rules, Parliament is required to review the Constitution annually to ensure that it continues to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens and uphold the democratic government institutions.

MINUTES
The Chair noted that the advert used in 2002 needs to be rewritten since it is vague and ambiguous and does not state clearly what is required from the public nor does it provide a due date for submissions. The Committee should bear in mind that most South Africans have no access to newspapers and therefore the need to use other forms of media becomes imperative.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) asked whether radio stations had been used before for this purpose.

The Chair responded that as far as he knows such has never happened.

Mr P Smith (IFP) commented that the provision itself should be amended in the Constitution.

The Chair said that what Mr Smith is proposing is not relevant at the moment since the notice to be formulated would be inviting people to make their submission on the constitutional clauses they think should be considered for amendment. Therefore Mr Smith, just like any public member, could make a submission and propose the said amendment.

Mr C Ackermann (NNP) commented that the annual exercise is boring and is a waste of time since the Committee has been doing it for the last five years and only received a few submissions proposing an amendment to specific clauses in the Constitution.

Mr J Jeffrey (ANC) acknowledged the concern, he then said that the Committee should look at the matter and thereafter recommend to the Rules Committee whether it feels that the constitutional review process should be done annually or what. The Committee should design an advert, which would be accurate and user friendly and thus encourage the public to make those submissions. He proposed that the Committee should also ask the assistance of monitoring groups, especially those present in the meeting, in formulating this advert.

Ms M Smuts (DP) noted that the notice should make it clear that the submissions required must be genuine constitutional amendments proposing an amendment of a specific clause(s) of the Constitution and therefore the wording should be blunt and precise. She said she would be very disappointed if the response proposing a genuine review of the constitutional clauses would be as poor as had been the case before.

The Chair said that the notice would definitely tell the public what is expected of them other than telling them what is not expected. He thereafter called PMG, IDASA and the Parliamentary researcher to assist in the formulation of the notice.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
Text of 2002 Advert requesting public submissions

Parliament requires that the Constitution be reviewed annually to ensure that it affords adequate protection to our democratic institution and the right of South African citizens

Members of the public are therefore invited to study the constitution and then to make submission to the Constitutional Review Committee regarding matters which, in their opinion, should be reviewed by the Committee, such as among others, the Bill of Rights, accountability of public representatives, separation of power, etc.

Copies of the Constitution may be obtained from the region office of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, the Government Communication and Information Service(GCIS), and from any of their Multi-purpose Community Centers.

Enquiries, as well as written submissions, may be addressed to: Ms V van Huyssteen, Committees Section, P Box 15, Cape Town 8000, Tel: ( 021) 403 3774, Fax ( 021) 403 2880, email : vvanhuyssteen@parliament.gov.za

Issued by the Joint Constitutional Review Committee

Appendix 2:
PROGRAMME OF THE JOINT CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE FOR THE YEAR 2003

CHAIRPERSON: ADV SP HOLOMISA

1. PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES

Mission:

To ensure that the Committee invites the public to submit to it, within 30 days written representations on any constitutional matter. This should be done before the first day of May.

To ensure that all representations submitted to the committee are given necessary consideration so as to provide the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces with an informed recommendation, and intends to do this in the most efficient and effective manner and within the timeframe.

Vision:

To conduct a review of the Constitution annually and to report to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

2.LEGISLATIVE WORK

The Committee does not deal with the passing of legislation.

3.WRITTEN INSTRUMENTS REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE

N/A

4.OVERSIGHT

N/A

5.BRIEFINGS

Briefings with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development as well as with the Department of Provincial and Local Government.

6. COMMITTEE MEETINGS

28 /Jan/03

Sub Committee

Consideration of the 2002 Sub

Committee Report

05 Feb/03

CRC

Consideration of Committee's

Annual programme

19 Feb / 03

Sub Committee

Planning session

07 March/ 03

CRC

Briefings by various commissions and relevant state departments on Constitutional literacy Campaign

28 March/03

CRC

Briefing by the Minister of Arts,

Culture and technology

14 April 2003

Sub Committee

Notices to the public inviting public

 

7.PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

The Committee will invite the public to submit any representations on any constitutional matter that needs to be reviewed as well as other bodies, which the Committee may identify for purpose of its work.

8. TRIPS/TOURS TO BE UNDERTAKEN

Study tours will determined in the course of the year.

Appendix 3
JOINT CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE BRIEF

1 PURPOSE

The Committee's function, in terms of Joint Rule 102, is to review the Constitution annually and report to the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

In performing this function the Committee has to invite the public to make written Submissions, on any constitutional matter. It has to identify those constitutional matters that it intends to review and make a recommendation to adopt or reject the proposed amendments.

However it is not clear, how the Joint Constitutional Review Committee has to process such amendments. The current practice is that the Committee would scrutinize the proposed amendments and decide whether to reject or accept the proposed amendment. It is not clear whether the Committee should process acceptable constitutional amendments by itself or if it should refer the matter to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development.

The manner in which the Committee has to handle its reponses is, also, problematic. It is not clear in what way the Committee should respond to the submissions and if it has to spell out its responses and give reasons for the responses.

If parties have different opinions on a particular submission, then it becomes a problem for the Committee, whether it should highlight those differences and give reasons for those different opinions or not.

Most of the work regarding the Constitution is done in the Portfolio Committee on

Justice and Constitutional Review, thus it becomes unclear what the purpose of the

Joint Constitutional Review Committee really is.

All in all it is not clear what it really means to, review the Constitution.

 

2.COMPOSITION

In terms of Joint Rule 98 (1) the Joint Committee consist of 45 Assembly members and 24 Council members, this means that it should comprise 69 members. Whereas other Joint Committees have a lesser number of members. This number seems to be unrealistic, since the number does not make it easy for the Committee to make decisions on issues before it. It is hard to have the majority of the National Council of Provinces component and the majority of the National Assembly component attending, in one sitting of the Committee.

This Committee is composed of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Presiding Officers, Senior Whips, a Chief Whip and Chairpersons of other Committees and this, on the surface, gives an impression that it is a very powerful Committee. However, the busy schedules which these office bearers run lead to poor attendance amongst members.

Another problematic feature is how the Ministers and Deputy Ministers should be notified of the meetings of this Committee. It is not clear whether they should be sent notices the same as way as other members of the Committee or if they should be invited differently.

Ministers

Prof A K Asmal

Dr P M Maduna

Mr. M V Moosa

Mr. F S Mafumadi

Dr E G Pahad

Dr Z S T Skweyiya

Deputy Ministers

Ms N G W Botha

Mrs. B S Mabandla

Ms L B Hendricks

Mr. M A Mangena

Presiding Officers

Dr F N Ginwala

Ms B Mbete

Mrs. G N M Pandor

Chief Whip (NCOP)

Mr. M E Surty

Senior Whips

Dr C P Mulder

Mrs. P De Lille

Chairperson of Committees (NCOP)

Ms S N Ntlabati

Deputy Chairperson of Committees

Mr. M J Bhengu

Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees

Mr. Y I Carrim

Adv J H De Lange

Mr. M E George

Inkosi M W Hlengwa

FIXED DAYS

If particular days were set aside for meetings of this Committee, then maybe attendance might improve, Fridays are not conducive for meetings of this Committee, therefore cannot be set aside for meetings. And Wednesdays can only be in the morning between 09:00 and 11:00, because the Secretary is serving on another Committee, which meets only on Wednesdays between 12:30 and 14:00.

4.SUPPORT

The Committee has the following people as its support staff:

Committee Secretary: Mr. E Kgopa

Committee Assistant: Ms B Madikane

Control Committee Secretary: Ms H Salie

Secretary to Chairperson: Ms A Nortjie

5.OVERSEAS VISITS

The overseas study tours it is understood, are fact finding missions so that a Committee can learn how other Parliamentary Committees from other countries deal with similar duties before, it. However it is not clear whether they are necessary or not for this Committee.

 

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