Acting Chairperson election

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

06 September 2017
Chairperson: Ms R Lesoma (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee elected Ms R Lesoma as Acting Chairperson of the Committee.

Some Members of the Committee brought up issues that were not on the agenda, to the disapproval of other Members. Such issues included the steps to be taken when removing a Chairperson of the Committee, the status of the investigation dealing with the letter that was circulating against Ms Khoza’s chairmanship on which the signature of the Acting Chairperson and other Members of the Committee were found, as well as the investigation into the matter of the expenditure by the Minister in inviting friends and family to the Budget Speech and then failing to appear for the meeting scheduled, thus also wasting the time of Members of Parliament and stopping the Committee from carrying out its role as an oversight over the Executive, as argued by some Members. Furthermore, it was raised that the issues affecting specific parties should not be allowed to interfere with the work of the Committee.

Other Members argued that such issues should be dealt with in a separate formal meeting and not in a meeting like this, to which the response was it was their right as Members of the Committee to bring up issues that affect the Committee and hence should not be stopped or told what to say and what not to say.

The Committee is three weeks behind schedule and thus might have to ask for permission to sit during the first week of the recess.

The Acting Chairperson welcomed two new members.

Meeting report

Election of Acting Chairperson
The Committee Secretary welcomed everyone and asked Members to nominate and elect an Acting Chairperson for the Committee.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) was elected unopposed as the Acting Chairperson of the Committee.

Opening Remarks
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for the responsibility given to her. The agenda item for the meeting was dealing with the nomination and election of the Acting Chairperson until further notice.

Ms D van der Walt (DA) raised a few issues and apologised to the Acting Chairperson for having to do this. Firstly, what exactly were the steps taken in accordance with the rules of Parliament on how to remove a Chairperson of the Committee?
Secondly, what was the status of the investigation into the letter that had the Acting Chairperson’s signature on it, which she had reported to the chief of the ANC as not being hers, as well as other Members of the Committee’s signatures? Because this Committee sets the example of ethical behaviour of government officials, Members serving on the Committee must abide by the same ethics.
Thirdly, the Acting Chairperson should continue with the investigation dealing with the expenditure by the Minister resulting from inviting friends and family to the Budget Speech, the cost thereof, as well as why she did not appear before the committee. This should be on the next meeting’s agenda so it can be dealt with.

An EFF Member said the EFF was not bothered about who chaired Committees in Parliament as the ANC is the Governing Party. However, the work of Parliament and Committees should not be disrupted by fights and factionalism within the ANC. Such issues must be dealt with from within and not involve Members of the Committee as the work of the Committee must continue. Committee work was halted for weeks because the ANC was fighting amongst itself and this manner of behaviour by the ruling party was unethical and unacceptable. The EFF owed it to those who voted it into Parliament to tell the ANC that this has to stop. The ANC should sort themselves out away from the works of Committees.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) raised a concern about the wasting of Members of Parliament’s (MP’s) time and public funds during the last meeting scheduled for the Committee in which MP’s used parliamentary flight entitlements to attend the meeting where the Minister was summoned to account for matters raised by Ms van der Walt, among other issues, but the meeting was subsequently not held as the Minister did not come. Public money was wasted in bringing Members of Parliament to Cape Town from their constituencies. The substantial business of the oversight functions of MP’s over the executive, regardless of what party they came from, was disposed of. Furthermore, this Committee was frozen for a couple of weeks and MP’s were unable to do their work. Hence this matter should be looked into as to the time and money of Parliament was not used efficiently, nor was the primary responsibility of oversight over the executive by MP’s in representing the people of South Africa carried out.

Mr B Mashile (ANC) said the ANC would support the Acting Chairperson in her position to lead the committee. The only item on the agenda was the election of the Acting Chairperson. Therefore, dealing with other matters that are supposed to be dealt with in an ordinary meeting should be avoided as the office of the House Chair was only aware the one agenda issue. The Committee should exercise a level of discipline to make sure that it only deals with the items that the sitting was intended to. Committee Members must avoid dealing with matters relating to specific parties and leave party issues to the relevant parties to deal with and not make them a Committee matter. The item on the agenda had already been dealt with and ordinarily the meeting should have been adjourned awaiting a formal meeting to deal with other matters.

Mr Ntombela congratulated the Acting Chairperson for taking the hot seat. It was not that the ANC did not have answers or responses to what has been hurled at it that morning, but the item of the day had been exhausted and the Committee should stick to that principle.  The ANC would respond at an appropriate time and day.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) addressed Mr Ntombela’s statement about responding to the issues raised some other time and hoped that the issue of the letter signed by the five members will at some stage be explained as to what happened and how the Acting Chairperson’s signature appeared on the letter that was against Ms Khoza’s Chairmanship in the Committee. Also, an explanation should be given as to why there was a lack of the report/speech introducing the two reports that were brought before Parliament the previous day.

The Acting Chairperson said she deliberately allowed everyone to speak but a conclusion should be reached with a clear understanding that the intention of the meeting was dealing with the election of the Acting Chairperson and this had been done. Ms van der Walt was commended for appreciating that today was not for other issues. Everyone would be allowed to speak so that the next meeting can deal with the other issues that concern the portfolios.

Ms Dlamini-Dubazana acknowledged the concerns raised by the EFF Member about focusing on Committee work to ensure that they account to the public. However, the Committee has a programme which was adopted and agreed to; hence the Committee should go back and do things according to the programme.

The Acting Chairperson asked that Members should not be tempted to respond to other members because that would delay the meeting. It would become an informal discussion of matters that are not the focus of the agenda.

Another Member thanked the Acting Chair and considered her to be a democrat, and appreciated that the Members had raised their issues. The Acting Chairperson should close the meeting as she has allowed the members to raise their points despite the fact that the only item on the agenda was the election of the Acting Chairperson and the matters that have been raised can be expressed in a formal meeting as Ms van der Walt had indicated.

Ms van der Walt responded with a correction that this was a transparent government in totality and every Member had the right to speak. When electing a Chairperson or Acting Chairperson you do not just elect the Chairperson and leave. Each Member has a right to speak and if she wanted she had the right to not nominate the Acting Chair. Members should be given the right to speak and not just come in there and then leave as that is not transparency in South Africa. Second correction was towards Ms Dlamini-Dubazana’s statement in which she implied that there is fixed programme and it cannot be changed. The Committee should keep things transparent.

The EFF Member thanked the Acting Chairperson for allowing Members to speak even though there was only one item on the agenda. As pointed out, the EFF had no problem with who chaired the Committee. However, the ruling party cannot come into the meeting and bulldoze Members and expect the Committee to just come in, elect and go. As MP’s and Members of the Committee, they had a constitutional mandate to discuss whatever they want. If party politics were disrupting works of the Committee and Parliament then it would be mentioned in Parliament and in the Committee and no one from the majority party can tell them what to say and what not to say. The point is Members of the Committee have the right to say whatever they want to as long as it relates to the work of the portfolio committee.

Mr Ntombela responded that the sentiments expressed by the EFF Member were reciprocal. No one can tell the ANC what to do. It was not a matter of how big or small a party is but a matter of principle and how meetings are run. You cannot decide to bring up issues and expect things to be done your way just because you so happen to be a smaller party or a party with a different shape. That is not how it works. The Committee should stick to the principle of how meetings are run and also stick to the decorum of the Committee. That was the principle.
 In response to Ms Jongbloed, it is not being said that the ANC will respond to the dictates of what she wants but the dictates of what has been said or what the ANC feels needs to be responded to. The ANC will not be dictated as to what to do. The Committee should not be selective with what it deals with because of particular interests.
Lastly, the Secretary mentioned that the Committee should elect the Acting Chairperson until a chairperson has been elected and hence it is suggested that the Acting Chairperson be elected until the Chairperson is appointed.

The Acting Chairperson responded to the latter part of Mr Ntombela’s suggestion and stated that that was the understanding and everyone concurred with that.
In preparation for the next meeting, as Acting Chairperson, she would meet with the House Chair so as to ensure that whenever decisions are made they are within the parameters and the laws of Parliament. This would also enable her to be guided on the issues of a political nature and committee issues that should be discussed so as to separate the two. The Committee will come back to have a proposal on how to deal with those issues regarding the workings of the Portfolio Committee. The Committee is three weeks behind in terms of its programme, which means more than one meeting a week is needed as Parliament will be going into recess in two weeks’ time hence it should be discussed how to manage that. Advice will be sought from the House Chair with regard to requesting permission to sit for the first week of recess. Hence there may not be time to agree on the dates but the programme will stay as it is. The Committee also needs to keep track of other issues and not just do the compliance part of the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson then introduced and welcomed the two new members of the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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