Documents handed out:
Advert on PMG
The Portfolio Committee had invited further written comments as it wanted to propose amendments that extend beyond the scope of the Bill. These were advertised as follows:
▪ The inclusion in the proposed definition of “infringement” of “National Land Transport Act, 2009 (and Cross-Border Road Transport Act, 1998) after “road traffic legislation.”
▪ The inclusion of a clause that establishes and administers rehabilitation programmes for habitual infringers.
▪ The inclusion of a Chapter in the principal Act, after Chapter III, that will provide for the establishment of an Appeals Tribunal.
▪ The inclusion of a new clause on the apportionment of penalties including, but not limited to, considerations on prevention of duplication of penalties or alternative options.
A summary of the 14 submissions on the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill was presented. The Committee was concerned that some submissions complained about the lack of supporting explanation to the proposed amendments. Hearings will be held on 22 and 23 March 2017. SANTACO and other stakeholders will also be invited to comment.
The Chairperson indicated that in view of the challenges PRASA was experiencing, the Committee had agreed on the 8 March that a parliamentary inquiry be held. The Committee had agreed that it would have a follow-up discussion to finalise the proposal and terms of reference.
Members agreed that it had been correct that Parliament hold an inquiry. However, the Minister had responded quickly and removed the PRASA Board therefore it is not necessary to continue with the inquiry. As the PRASA Board had already been terminated, it was proposed that the Committee “abandon the idea” to pursue the inquiry.
The DA members pushed vigorously to continue with the inquiry as they said that the inquiry would be looking at not only the PRASA Board but also the corruption which involves billions, the secondment process and the salaries of both the previous CEO and Acting CEO. They were surprised by the change of heart.
The rest of the Committee felt that Treasury, Werkmans Attorneys and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) are busy investigating PRASA as an organisation and this did not need to be duplicated by Parliament.
The Chairperson decided that they summon the Minister to a meeting before the end of March to explain the way forward. They would wait for a response from the Speaker about the letter that was submitted by the former CEO, Lucky Montana, in November 2016 requesting a parliamentary inquiry.
AARTO Amendment Bill: summary of submissions
Adv A Nel, Parliamentary Content Advisor, presented the submissions on the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill. The first submission noted that the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments to the AARTO Amendment Bill means the Bill remains purely for revenue generation and will not affect the statistics for road fatalities. The use of AARTO and the AARTO Amendment Bill serve merely to assist the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) to enforce collection of e-tolls and outstanding e-tolls. Cross-reference was made for a requirement suggested between three longstanding Bills. The document is very technical in nature, therefore is not easily understandable to the public.
There was an indication that the new, advertised amendments did not contain a detailed clause-by-clause Memorandum as one would expect with new amendments to the Act. The view by the Commission as well as Justice Project South Africa is that the Memorandum would have assisted the public to provide greater commentary because members of the public would have understood reasoning for the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments.
The consultation process for the publication of the additional amendments was criticised.
There was an opinion that prosecution of speed limits might not be done correctly. Various examples were made indicating that the speed limit was in fact increased in other countries.
The comment was made that there have been several missed deadlines by the National Department in the rollout of AARTO nationally, and this is an indication that AARTO cannot possibly work because of its “unworkable nature on a national scale”. It was proposed that the Amendment Bill as well as the principal Act in its entirety, be withdrawn. There was consensus with the comments of Justice Project South Africa that the Department and the Committee do not take notice of the comments, nor did they include any of the previous comments made by Justice Project South Africa in the Amendment Bill.
The amendments to Section 30 were criticised regarding the abuse of electronic service procedures. A proposal was made for the development of a secure online payment system. Justice Project South Africa also made mention of a system which can be checked for up-to-date, real-time information on demerit points.
There was a proposal that the definition of “authorised officer” was poorly drafted. This submission also indicated that the proposal document was not properly presented.
The habitual offender programme was criticised. Several mentions were made in submissions that the programme is not clearly defined, there is no clear indication of what the budget will be for the programme, how the programmes will be established, and the consequences of whether the programme will actually bear fruit. Justice Project South Africa went so far as to say that introducing the programme only once a person has been regarded as a habitual offender, would not rehabilitate. Justice Project South Africa proposed that a rehabilitation programme should be established earlier so that the person is put through a programme before they lose their licence.
Several submissions disagreed with the amendments to the definition of ‘infringement’ removing the distinction between major and minor categories of infringement.
The deletion of “sheriff” in the definitions was criticised. There were several comments that propose that “sheriff” should still remain. Mention was made throughout submissions that there should be a fall-back allowing the old criminal procedure of processing these crimes.
The establishment of the Appeals Tribunal was criticised and rejected as “misguided and disturbing”. There was criticism of the establishment of the Representations Officer as well in several of the submissions.
The new clause dealing with the aspect of consultations with the Minister, as well as the roles and functions of the proposed Board, were criticised.
In other submissions there was a strong sense that the Minister should have input in the determination of remuneration of the employees that will be serving on the Board, as well.
The deletion of Section 17(1)(f)(iv) has been criticised as it affects the rights of infringers who would normally be able to go to court. The audi alteram partem rule is discussed in several of the submissions.
The new clause dealing with prescription was criticised as providing a condonation of the incompetence of officials. Various submissions indicated that the infringers should not be punished for this.
There was a request to retain and refine the original wording of Section 18(7) of the Act. Again, there was criticism of removing the person’s right to be tried in court in the new clause.
A Metro Officer at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) made the submission that the Bill was “toothless and useless”. This submission is derived from the officer’s experience having to deal with traffic violations and the frustration that once infringers are fined or arrested, nothing happens after that. Since the introduction of AARTO, there is no respect for the law. When persons are pulled over, the officials are told that they are wasting their time and their energy because the infringer will not pay the fine and nothing will happen to them. A request was made in the submission to bring back the use of Section 56 of the National Road Traffic Act in terms of which, traffic officials can arrest any person driving without a driver’s licence, arrest anyone that is driving recklessly and endangering other road users, arrest anyone who fails to pay a traffic fine, arrest pedestrians walking on highways and impound any vehicle driving contrary to the notice to discontinue operation of motor vehicle. Reference was also made to the court order of the Pretoria High Court against the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) about the manner in which they served AARTO infringement notices and the court ordering the withdrawal of hundreds of fines.
Adv Niel Lourens requested consideration given to the identification of a proxy for corporate bodies and the electronic service of data. He pointed out that it is pivotal to ensure that the administrative body dealing with the functions of adjudicating traffic offences must comply with the timeline of the relevant legislation as well.
The duty of the administrative body is to prove that the document or notice has been received and therefore imperative that “received” is defined. It was also suggested that the word “received” be removed as it will be virtually impossible to prove that the actual document was received by the relevant party, and be replaced with “sent” or “posted” as it will fit within the definition of ‘electronic service’ in terms of the Electronic Communications Act (ECA). Mention was also made that the use of the definition of electronic communications in the ECA may bring about unintended consequences, and in this regard the Committee was requested to take note of Section 35 and Section 36 of that Act.
Adv Bradley Smith, National Prosecuting Authority, who also made a submission in the previous round, commented that unnecessary administrative processes should be removed. His proposed amendments to the initial AARTO Act are substantial and require an update of the costing and social impact assessment of the AARTO Act.
It was noted that while AARTO required consultation between the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Finance about remuneration of the Board and Appeals Tribunal members, the requirements for consultation with the Minister of Finance have been deleted when it comes to determining remuneration and allowance.
On the definition of ‘electronic service’, it may be too wide to restrict it to a specific form of communication such as email. “Electronic service” was criticised as in his opinion electronic communications are not yet seen as reliable. On the insertion of clauses dealing with habitual offenders, it is not clear what the prescribed rehabilitation programme will be and how this would apply to juristic persons.
See document for the rest of the summary of submissions
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) referred to the omission of an Explanatory Memorandum of Objects for the Bill advertised for comment. Mr Ramatlakane requested clarity on why this had happened.
The Committee Secretary explained that there will still be further hearings and deliberations, and that there will also be a redrafting of the amendments.
Mr Ramatlakane said that his question was not being answered. He referred to the criticism by the public that in order for the public to sufficiently participate that there should have been an explanatory clause-by-clause memorandum which accompanied the Bill for the public. He asked why the norm was deviated from.
Ms Noluthando Mpikashe, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, explained that normally when the Portfolio Committee Amendments (or the A List) is drafted, an Explanatory Memorandum of the Objects is not included. The Bill was publicised for the first round of public submissions for the Committee to address. Normally the Committee would adopt the A List before the B Bill is considered. The Memorandum of the Objects usually accompanies the Bill and not the A List. Once the Committee adopts the A List, the B Bill will be drafted and the Memorandum of the Objects for the original Bill introduced to Parliament will be amended to cover all the changes. In her opinion, what the public missed to understand was that in order to understand the A List, one would have needed the amended Bill.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) asked what was offered for the general public to comment on, what did the advert say and what access did the public have to the relevant documents.
The Committee Secretary said that the A List was published and it should have been accompanied by the Bill. She would confirm this.
Mr Ramatlakane said that, according to the Legal Adviser, the public would not have had reference to the Bill on the advert. The public would have had to locate the Bill which was advertised previously.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser indicated that the original AARTO Amendment Bill was published in May 2016 and the public had made comments. The Committee Section then advertised the A List for public comment in February 2017. She explained that the public needed to have the Act as well as the Bill to understand the A List, as the A List amends the original Act as well. The reminded Members that the Committee had decided that further amendments needed to be made to the AARTO Act besides what the Amendment Bill had covered.
Mr Ramatlakane asked if it would have been illegal to publish the Bill/Act together with the A List.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser said that it would not have been illegal. Normally, the Memorandum of the Objects is not published with the A List. Once a Committee agrees to the A List, then it is sent it Creda Printers to produce the B Bill, and subsequently the Committee adopts the A List and the B Bill. In this instance, the Committee had only proposed Portfolio Committee Amendments but it has not adopted them yet as the A List. The B Bill could not be requested because the Committee has not yet adopted the A List.
Mr Hunsinger noted his disappointment. Once the AARTO Amendment Bill becomes an Act it will affect ordinary people, and Committee should facilitate input from the public by placing the public in the best possible position to make recommendations. It appeared as though there was selective decision making on the process, and the assumption that people would be able to understand that they need to locate a copy of the Act. Mr Hunsinger said that he himself struggles with aligning the A List to the principal Act, and repeated that it is not an easy endeavour. This Amendment Bill is going to affect every ordinary citizen with a vehicle. He emphasised his disappointment about how the relevant legislation was advertised. He had been enthusiastic that the process would make it convenient for the public to participate in commenting on AARTO. However, it appears that the process was made complicated. It was not done in a manner which the ordinary person could understand and be moved to engage and provide comments. When the Committee is required to respond with public participation about the Act, he wants it to be able to do so convincingly. He was not happy with what was happening.
Mr Ramatlakane indicated that what was expected was a comprehensive, consolidated document with the A List and the Bill and the Act to be provided to the public. He explained that the Committee would need to discuss its public participation process having heard the submissions on the Bill.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) asked about the "further hearings" on the Bill which was mentioned by the Committee Secretary. He was interested to hear the Department response to the public submissions next week on why certain proposals were accepted or rejected.
Mr Hunsinger asked for an indication on the process for AARTO, as it was decided that the Committee would deliberate on AARTO next week. He asked which aspect of AARTO will be under discussion. When is it planned to have a finalised A List and a finalised B Bill for approval? What steps are to be taken about a proposed second round of public participation?
Mr Hunsinger recommended that public participation is facilitated and concluded and then filtered through the Committee legal advisors for their legal opinion. Then a final AARTO document which includes the proposals accepted for final drafting, could be approved.
Mr Ramatlakane agreed that AARTO should be dealt with clause-by-clause in the next two weeks before recess, and that the Committee should finalise the proposed Portfolio Committee Amendments. As the committee whip, he promised that an agenda will follow. He noted that SANTACO has not made a submission. They would need to ensure that SANTACO comments on the proposed Portfolio Committee amendments to AARTO. He suggested that a schedule should be drafted with a list of stakeholders invited to appear and comment on the Portfolio Committee Amendments to the Bill in the next two weeks, which will then be incorporated into the programme.
Mr De Freitas asked it the procedure outlined by Mr Ramatlakane was correct.
The Chairperson indicated that it was the correct procedure.
Mr G Radebe (ANC) said that it was “improper” for one of the submissions to make the assertion that their earlier proposals were not considered. The Committee is still discussing the submissions, and the Committee had granted the public a second chance to make submissions. He said that the A List should be concluded, and published. Once the B Bill is produced, it could be debated in the House.
Mr M Maswanganyi (ANC) recommended that the Chairperson communicate with all of the identified stakeholders to make submissions on the proposed Portfolio Committee Amendments to the AARTO Amendment Bill.
The Chairperson repeated that the Committee has agreed to deal with the AARTO Amendment Bill in the next two weeks.
Mr Ramatlakane supported the proposal to request SANTACO to make a submission.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee Secretary would send a letter to that effect.
The Committee Secretary requested clarity about Wednesday and Thursday the following week which would be used for hearings and if SANTACO was the only stakeholder which needed to be requested to make a submission. She asked if one week was sufficient time for SANTACO to draft a submission if the Committee agrees to grant an extension if requested. She asked if the Chemical and Allied Industries Association would present on 23 March 2017.
The Chairperson indicated that her understanding was that the Committee would hold public hearings next week and consider the A List and B Bill the week after.
Mr Ramatlakane proposed that next week the Committee invites those people who have made submissions to give oral submissions. SANTACO would have to present its submission within the timeframe of the public hearings next week. In the week thereafter, the Bill will be agreed to clause-by-clause.
Mr De Freitas indicated that he fully supported the programme although he would not be available on the Friday as he will be in his constituency.
Mr Ramatlakane identified 14 stakeholders in total, including SANTACO. He proposed that seven stakeholders are seen by the Committee on Wednesday 22 March and seven stakeholders are Thursday 23 March in order for the Committee to conclude within two days.
Mr De Freitas said that it was an excellent proposal. In previous hearings the people heard in the morning session had more time to make their submission than people allocated to the afternoon. He emphasised that the Committee be strict on time, and notify the presenters in advance in the interest of fairness.
Mr Ramatlakane said that the advertisement for written submissions was a fairly formal process. He requested legal advice on the matter of “bending the rule” by identifying certain stakeholders and requesting them to make an oral submission. He asked what the consequences of this decision would be.
Mr De Freitas noted that Mr Ramatlakane had asked a valuable question. He believes that the process should be as inclusive and divergent as possible to ensure that the best version of the legislation is produced. He believes that the Committee will only be scrutinised if it limits the process by including only certain individuals.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) agreed. The invitation for oral submissions was open to everyone and that identifying specific stakeholders to come and present is another strategy to close the gap.
Mr M Maswanganyi (ANC) referred to Parliament’s public participation document and indicated that stakeholders are defined as having an interest in the outcomes of the legislation and are considered partners in its design. There is a reason why certain stakeholders need to be identified over and above the general public.
Mr Hunsinger echoed Mr De Freitas in saying that the Committee should have ample time to conduct the hearings. He reiterated that the extension for submissions should be as inclusive as possible, noting that the risk would be identifying which stakeholders to request to present to the Committee.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser explained that it would be unfair for the Committee to target specific stakeholders and not give the public an opportunity. The Committee has given the public an opportunity to make submissions, and it also feels that there are people whose views are very important and they could contribute meaningful submissions to the Bill.
In response to the Chairperson asking if there were other organisations which would need to be invited other than the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) and the South African Bus Operators Association (SABOA), the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) was mentioned.
Oversight tour during April
Mr Ramatlakane said that the Committee needs to programme its April oversight, particularly to the Northern Cape communities which have not yet been visited, about their roads.
Mr De Freitas raised a concern about the Eastern Cape petition and reiterated the need to prioritise oversight visits in those communities in this calendar year. He referred to the proposal for a study tour, and his expressed his sense that nothing is being done about it because of committee work on legislation. He recommended that the Committee receive a business proposal for a study tour in the meantime with the intention of discussing the proposal within the next two weeks.
Mr Radebe requested that the Committee addresses the “heavy issues” especially relating to PRASA and ACSA during oversight. He said that it would be appropriate to prioritise the oversight of PRASA. ACSA also requires urgent attention as there are major challenges within the entity which need to be addressed. He lobbied all Members to agree.
The Chairperson asked the Committee to respond to the proposal to focus on the critical matters of PRASA and ACSA as part of Committee oversight, in place of oversight on Northern Cape roads.
The Chairperson indicated that since 2015 the Committee has approached the House Chair for approval of a study tour to Brazil in order to have a working understanding of the manufacturing and training process prior to the establishment of the train manufacturing facility in Dunnottar near Nigel in South Africa. The proposal was turned down in 2015 and 2016. The proposal was to the effect that the Committee would travel to Brazil and France, however the Committee has continued to make submissions to the House Chair for the oversight tour. She had raised this with the House Chair, one-on-one, and submissions have been made on an annual basis. The purpose of the trip is to conduct oversight and to ensure that money granted to PRASA from the Republic of South Africa is being properly appropriated and utilised.
PRASA Inquiry: discussion
The Chairperson indicated that in view of the challenges which PRASA is experiencing, the Committee agreed to establish an ad hoc parliamentary committee to look into the PRASA Board challenges. The Committee agreed that it would discuss this to finalise the proposal agreed to on 8 March.
Mr Sibande said that it was correct that the Committee agreed on this initially. However, the Committee did not anticipate that the Minister would be so quick to respond about PRASA. Therefore it is not necessary as the PRASA Board has already been expelled. The PRASA Board cannot be compared to the SABC Board, as the SABC Board was still functional at the time of the inquiry. As the PRASA Board has already been terminated, he proposed that the Committee “abandons the idea” to pursue the inquiry.
Mr Maswanganyi said that the inquiry was going to address the functionality of the PRASA Board, which was dissolved on the same day that the Committee was proposing the inquiry. It would be difficult to go into an inquiry when the Board has been dissolved. He suggested that the Committee invite the Minister of Transport to present to the Committee on the plan for PRASA. According to the media, the Minister has appointed an interim Board and the former Board is taking her to Court. It was a matter of public interest, and that it would not be fair to invite the interim Board to present as its members are new to their positions.
Mr Maswanganyi requested that if possible the Chairperson writes to the Minister to request her to appear before the Committee. He suggested that the Committee goes through the budget vote with the Minister and then the Committee will make an evaluation on whether to pursue the inquiry.
Mr De Freitas reminded the Committee that after the Board had been fired last week, he specifically confirmed that the Committee would proceed with the inquiry. All Members had known that the Board had been dissolved, and were content with the decision about the inquiry.
Mr De Freitas said that the Committee had not discussed the Terms of Reference. He spoke to the matter of the CEO salary which had been increased. He has documents in his possession which prove that the salary increases were done fraudulently.
Mr De Freitas said that since the 8 March meeting, it appeared that ANC Members had been instructed to tow the line and keep quiet. He expressed his concern that the Committee wants to allow the Minister to tell it how to conduct oversight and therefore he did not support the proposal to abandon the inquiry.
Mr De Freitas expressed his disappointment that the Committee would not be acting as an independent body. He will speak to the media about the corruption which involves billions of rands at PRASA. It appeared as though the Committee has had a “change of heart” and is now a part of the cover-up.
Mr Radebe said that the Member should not make accusations; it is very wrong. He asked that Mr De Freitas refrains from behaving like a “lunatic”. The matters were initially raised because of the challenges in PRASA. He had suggested an inquiry to assess the functionality of the Board, and asked who the Committee will be engaging with as the Board has been dissolved.
Mr Radebe said that Members should not behave like “political-grandstanders”. If the inquiry relates to other PRASA matters then Mr De Freitas should submit a concrete proposal. The proposal made last week, which he also withdraws support for after reading the Minister's letter, arose because of the situation which presented itself. If Members want to popularise themselves then they should do so in their own space; and that it is wrong.
Mr Radebe said that the most important issue is the monitoring of progress at PRASA, unless it is decided that the Committee wants to waste time and hold hearings which are not of assistance. Issues at PRASA have been addressed, and the new Board has been given an opportunity. He agreed that the Minister should account to the Committee on several matters at PRASA. The Committee cannot hold hearings, wasting the resources of Parliament because the Committee wants to “embarrass people” and create television.
Mr Ramatlakane said that it was unfortunate that Mr De Freitas made the statement that the ANC is towing the line as it was an untested opinion which will only cause the Committee to degenerate. He agreed that the inquiry should be suspended, and that the Minister should account to the Committee on several issues about PRASA including the interim Board. Thereafter a determination can be made by the Portfolio Committee. The Minister was not present at the 8 March on PRASA as she was in hospital; however she still owes the Committee an explanation. The Members have been operating as a Committee of Parliament and that such accusations are not appropriate.
Mr Hunsinger indicated that last week the Committee accepted that an Ad Hoc Committee would be established. The intervention by the Minister to dissolve the Board was not anticipated at the time, however the decision does not alter the objectives of the Ad Hoc Committee which still have to be determined. He maintained that the Ad Hoc Committee should still be pursued as the Members still have a role and a function. The Ad Hoc Committee consisting of different parties would convey credibility, which is currently seriously lacking about PRASA.
Ms S Xego (ANC) said that the Committee was correct to propose the establishment of a commission of inquiry as the situation at PRASA was alarming at the time. However, now that action has been taken, it is no longer relevant to take the route of establishing a commission of inquiry. She commended the Minister for the decision to terminate the PRASA Board.
Mr Sibande indicated that there are a number of legal investigations into PRASA. Currently some individuals believe that they protect the Constitution more than others, however this appears contrary as some of the institutions utilised to enforce the Constitution are not being recognised. He expressed his belief that the due legal process should be left to continue.
Mr Maswanganyi said that the SABC inquiry looked into the fitness of the Board. The SABC Board deviated from its mandate, and did not adhere to governance rules and the correct decision making process of the Board. The Committee’s main point of reference was the Board, as the Committee has looked at the other concerns. He agreed that the Minister should present to the Committee, especially as the Board is dissolved. He believed that all channels should be exhausted, before an inquiry is initiated to. Treasury, Werkmans Attorneys and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) are busy investigating PRASA as an organisation.
The Chairperson said that it would be fair to invite the Minister to speak to the Committee. She agreed that there are issues within PRASA and specifically the Board. However, the Board has been terminated. She recommended that the Committee suspend the enquiry until Members have heard from the Minister on the detailed outcomes, issues and investigations at PRASA, as there is no longer a Board to assess.
The Chairperson said the Speaker of Parliament had received a letter from the former CEO, Mr Montana, asking her to investigate the entity. The Committee Chair was included in the email thread which contained the letter to the Speaker. The Committee Chair recommended that the Committee should wait to hear the outcome from the Speaker. The Minister will be required to present to the Committee before the April recess.
Mr Hunsinger said that the Chairperson is commissioned with handling two different proposals from the Committee. He repeated that the Ad Hoc Committee was agreed to by the Portfolio Committee and supported in full. The appearance of the Minister is irrespective of the fact that the Ad Hoc Committee was decided on with a particular intention given the facts exposed last week, without finalised Terms of Reference.
The Chairperson requested that the Committee holds its decision in abeyance awaiting the outcome of the decision by the Speaker who received the letter from the former CEO. That letter is no different from the issues identified in PRASA.
Mr De Freitas and Mr Hunsinger requested a vote on the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee.
The Chairperson spoke in her vernacular language saying that the proposal made in the previous meeting was now modified to include the investigation and that the Committee should elect Members to join the commission of inquiry and establish terms of reference. It was now proposed that the commission would not become an ad hoc committee, instead the Committee Members would decide on representatives to constitute that committee amongst themselves. The Chairperson said that the Committee does not need to vote, as the Minister's letter arrived after the Committee decision and has been submitted to the Speaker for further investigation. She recommended that the Committee await a decision from the Speaker.
Mr De Freitas requested that the Chairperson speak English since he was being disadvantaged as he could not understand her.
The Chairperson indicated that until the Speaker has guided the Committee, the proposal will be put on hold.
Mr Hunsinger said that he was sceptical as to whether guidance was needed from the Speaker. The Committee was unanimous in accepting Parliament Rule 227(1)(c) which allows the Committee a full mandate to unanimously call for an Ad Hoc Committee. The proposal which was agreed upon last week should not be subject to anything else. He requested that a vote be taken on the matter. He could not understand how the Speaker could determine the status after a decision was taken by the Committee.
The Chairperson said that in the meeting last week, the Committee agreed that the modalities of the proposal would be discussed during the current meeting. Members intend to finalise what was proposed last week, and these deliberations are to finalise the process.
Mr Sibande said that the material conditions were different when the decision was taken on the inquiry, as afterwards there was a development. The former Board members cannot be summoned to the inquiry as they have been expelled. It strengthens the point that there is no need to call an inquiry at the moment because the Board has been dissolved. The legal investigations into PRASA are underway and cannot be stopped. He repeated that the Board is not being defended.
Mr Ramatlakane said that ordinarily the letter submitted to the Speaker would be referred to the Committee for consideration. The Committee has not begun to deal with the Terms of Reference for the Committee to investigate PRASA. New issues contained in the letter to the Speaker will need to be identified for an inquiry. He did not see the need to vote, as there was no major disagreement. Instead it was established that the Committee requires greater information and input to make a decision on Terms of Reference. He agreed that the discussion should be suspended, until the letter is referred to the Committee by the Speaker.
Mr De Freitas asked if the letter arrived recently with new information, and why the Committee was only hearing about the letter now.
The Chairperson indicated that Mr De Freitas was also copied in the email containing the letter.
Mr De Freitas said the Chairperson should therefore know that the letter was dated 29 November 2016. He expressed his scepticism that “three months down the line, and the letter conveniently arrives”.
The Chairperson said that she was copied into the email containing the letter on Thursday.
Mr De Freitas said that he received the letter long before Thursday, and that the Speaker received the letter on 29 November 2016. The timing of the mention of the letter was convenient.
The Chairperson said she received the letter at 16:25 on Thursday.
Mr Hunsinger said that once the Committee began discussing the Ad Hoc Committee, there was a counter proposal not to go ahead with the Ad Hoc Committee but to rather summon the Minister. The third alternative was now the mention made of the November 2016 letter which the Speaker received. The inquiry is not solely on the Board but the other issues, such as the secondment process. Some of the issues are not criminal in nature, and should be looked at by the Portfolio Committee on Transport such as the existence of the memorandum of agreement for secondment, secondment acceptance letters and irregular expenditure.
Mr Hunsinger asked what the options for the Committee are, and whether the Committee is compromising. The existence of the Ad Hoc Committee is legitimate given that there are other matters that would fall under investigation. Procedurally, it would be wise to summon the Minister to provide explanations to the Committee. After that, the Terms of Reference for the Ad Hoc Committee would be established.
Mr Hunsinger said that at no stage should the compilation and existence of the Ad Hoc Committee be put in jeopardy as it was a firm decision taken by the Portfolio Committee to accept a committee of investigation.
Mr Maswanganyi asked what the Committee would be investigating as there is no longer a Board. The Members were only told of the dissolution of the Board toward the end of the previous meeting. The operational matters of PRASA are under investigation. The Minister will need to clarify the former Acting CEO salary and the secondment process.
Mr Radebe proposed closure of the meeting.
Mr De Freitas repeated that after the Minister's letter had been read to the Committee, that he had raised his hand to confirm that the inquiry would continue. He asked why the questions being raised by Members now, were not raised then. On that day, colleagues had agreed vehemently and emotionally that the commission of inquiry would proceed.
Ms Xego seconded the proposal for the closure of the meeting. She also proposed that the Committee list the issues it wishes the Minister to address when she is summoned.
The minutes for 14 and 28 February 2017 were considered and adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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