Department of Public Services and Administration briefing: meeting postponed; Application of NCOP Rule 91

NCOP Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements

07 November 2017
Chairperson: Mr M Mohapi (ANC, Free State)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was supposed to receive a briefing from the Department of Public Services and Administration on its performance. The Minister had indicated beforehand that she would be unavailable to attend the meeting but that the Deputy Minister would attend instead. However; the Committee decided not to proceed with the briefing when the Deputy Minister failed to attend as she was attending another parliamentary meeting at the same time.  The Committee explained that the Department officials would not be able to answer the questions posed by Committee Members. Furthermore, it emphasized that there is a constitutional obligation on the executive to appear before the Committee and that this displeasure would be communicated to the Minister.

The Committee also briefly discussed its planned oversight visits to North West and KwaZulu-Natal. The Committee adopted the application of NCOP Rule 91 to empower the Chairperson and a few other members to conduct a preliminary visit on behalf of the Committee. The adoption of the rule was important to address the lack of preparation of provinces during the Committee’s oversight visit. The rule will be applied for the oversight visits to the North West and KwaZulu-Natal.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed everyone. He indicated that the focus of the meeting would be to receive a briefing from the Department of Public Services and Administration on its performance. The Committee was expecting the Deputy Minister because the Minister would not be available for the meeting

In addition, he mentioned that the Committee would deliberate briefly about its planned oversight visits to KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

The Chairperson asked all Members and delegates to introduce themselves.

Ms G Oliphant (ANC, Northern Cape) noted that her name was not on the Committee’s membership list and that this needs to be corrected.

Mr S Mthimunye (ANC, Mpumalanga) agreed with Ms Oliphant that the list of members should be updated because the names of previous members still appeared on the list.

The Chairperson concurred. Furthermore, he explained that an apology was received from the Minister but she committed to send the Deputy Minister to represent the Department; however the Deputy Minister was attending another meeting, but there was an indication that she would attend because of the magnitude of the issue to be discussed.

Ms Oliphant stated that the meeting should be cancelled if the Deputy Minister did not turn up at the meeting because the delegates from the Department did not have sufficient authority to respond to issues that the Committee would address.

The Chairperson said there was a cause for concern about the non-appearance of Members of the Executive before Committees and Parliament. Section 66 of the constitution gives authority to the NCOP to request members of the cabinet and officials working for the executives to appear before it.  He pleaded that members should grant five minutes more for the Deputy Minister to arrive at the meeting, after which a decision would to be taken. 

The Deputy Minister did not arrive after the time allotted to wait.

In the course of waiting for the Deputy Minister’s arrival, the Chairperson relayed a condolence message to a member who lost his father the week before the meeting. 

The Deputy Minister did not arrive after the time allotted to wait.

Application of NCOP Rule 91

The Chairperson proceeded to discussing the planned oversight visit to Northwest and KwaZulu-Natal. The Committee decided that it should adopt a different approach in its oversight visits to the Provinces. Previous visits to the Provinces showed their lack of readiness for the visit and it was agreed that the application of NCOP Rule 91 should be adopted before an oversight visit by the Committee. The implication of the rule is that the Chairperson, with any member of the Committee that is within the Province to be visited, together with the Whip of the Committee would visit the area on a fact finding mission and would be report their findings, before the Committee makes a follow up with an oversight visit. This was to ensure that an assessment of the situation had been done prior to the oversight visit by the Committee. He requested a mover for the application of the rule.

Mr J Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) proposed the motion for the adoption of Rule 91.

Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) seconded the move.

The Chairperson said a framework will be developed to consolidate the decision made by the Committee on the issues. The rule will apply for both the Northwest and KwaZulu-Natal visits.

Ms Oliphant asked if before the visit, the Committee should write to inform the provincial COGTA and the Municipalities about the oversight visit because some questions can only be answered by the Provinces and others by the Municipalities. 

The Chairperson replied that the MECs and the Municipalities are often informed before a visit, so that whatever is said by the Municipalities can be verified from the Provinces. The Committee makes sure that the Principal Officer attends the meeting. This is to make sure that the provincial cabinet is held accountable to the Committee according to section 66 of the Constitution.

The Chairperson explained that the Minister was invited to today’s meeting but indicated that she would not be available because she was out of the country. However, it was promised that the Deputy Minister would be available at the meeting.

The Chairperson again asked the delegates if the Deputy Minister was ready for the meeting, and delegates from DPSA indicated that she was not ready.

The Chairperson said although the Committee was aware that the Deputy Minister would attend another meeting, it was expected that after 30 minutes of the commencement of the meeting the Deputy Minister should be ready. He registered the displeasure of the Committee with regards to this and said that it would write to the Minister on the issue. Also, he noted that the Department only appears before the Committee when invited while it ought to report on its quarterly activities. He stated that the Department should not wait for the Committee to invite it because it is accountable to the Committee. The response of the Department to the Committee’s call should not be considered a privilege but a constitutional right of the NCOP. The delegates should convey message the Committee’s displeasure to their principals.

The meeting was adjourned.

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