Committee Annual Report; Committee Programme first term 2018; Study Tour plans

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Defence and Military Veterans

29 November 2017
Chairperson: Mr D Gamede (ANC) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider outstanding minutes, its draft Annual Report and its Committee programme for the period 23 January to 29 March 2018 (first term). The Committee adopted all its minutes with technical amendments and also adopted its annual report for 2017.

Members resolved to make some changes to its first term programme to include a briefing by the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on its proposed visit to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Vietnam.

Meeting report

Consideration of draft Committee minutes

The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of the 25 October 2017 without any amendments.

Mr S Esau (DA) said the Committee support staff had compiled a report on all outstanding matters scheduled them for the Committee’s planning for 2018. He wanted clarity as to whether indeed that had been done

The Acting Chairperson said that the matter would be considered when the Committee considered the first term programme for 2018.

Ms B Dambuza (ANC) said she wanted an update on the resolutions the Committee had taken.

The Acting Chairperson said there were minutes after 25 October where the update appeared and was discussed and the update could also be considered when receiving the report form support staff.

The Committee adopted its minutes of the 8, 15 and 22 November without any amendments.  

Consideration of draft Annual Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans for the 2017 Parliamentary year

Mr S Marais (DA) said that the Committee seemed to have given very little attention to the South African Defence Force (SANDF), the South African Navy and the South African Air force. Article 200 of the Constitution detailed the obligations of all landward and ground forces. Even in the 2018 programme the DoD had not been prioritised when there were so many problems with SANDF.

The Committee would have to consider the implications of Article 200 of the Constitution and the impact that the Committee had been lacking on oversight of the ground forces. His plea was for the Committee to prioritise oversight of DoD. The Committee had not followed up on the equipment and vehicles for SANDF ground forces peacekeeping missions. If there was better serviceable equipment there would probably be a much bigger refund for SANDF from the United Nations (UN).

The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee had prioritised the DoD for 24 months previously and it had focused thereafter on the Department of Military Veterans (DMV). Certainly the Committee would consider and review the rotational prioritisation of the two departments.

Mr Esau said, on the strategic workshop planned for 2018, he would appreciate if the support staff also prepared a spreadsheet for an annual performance plan for each of the remaining years before the 2019 elections.  That would make it easy to collate the information of the last two and a half years in preparation for the five year report that Parliament normally had.

Mr Marais proposed adoption of the Committee report with the amendments that he had spoken to regarding the functioning of the Committee.

Ms Dambuza wanted clarity on oversight trips where there had been theft of weapons at one infantry battalion - she did not see the trip captured in the report.

Mr Esau said the cables had been stolen at Silvermine military base and some goods had been stolen somewhere else.

The Acting Chairperson said the report Ms Dambuza was referring to formed part of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence’s report.

The draft Annual Report of the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans for the 2017 Parliamentary year was adopted with amendments.

Consideration and adoption of the Committee programme for the period 23 January to 29 March 2018 (first term)

Mr Marais asked for the progress in terms of the application to Parliament for the study tour as party caucuses needed certainties regarding the logistics around travel arrangements. Members had to apply for approval from their political party principles. Would Members’ passports be needed by the support staff for logistics in preparation for the oversight tour?

The Acting Chairperson said that he was confident that the Speaker would be persuaded to sign the authorisation of the study tour.

Mr Marais asked what the proposed make-up was of the MPs who would be going.

The Acting Chairperson said the tour was for all Members since the Portfolio and Joint Committee each had their own budgets, and it would have savings to have a joint study tour.

Mr Esau said it was important for content advisors to do a proper briefing so that there would be common understanding of the purpose of the tour.

The Acting Chairperson said that certainly could be done and that indeed the Committee also had to leave their official passports with the support staff for logistical purposes. The tour was to Vietnam to see how that country took care of its military veterans.

Mr Esau said that the Committee’s oversight was sometimes hampered by the Joint Committee; was it necessary that the entire Joint Committee went together with the portfolio committee? Could it not send a delegated number of members to Vietnam as the portfolio had faced several challenges in the past few years when doing joint oversight with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence?   

The Acting Chairperson said indeed those issues would need to be dealt as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had a different programme from the National Assembly (NA). He said the proposed programme needed to be adopted.

Mr Marais moved for adoption of the draft programme and asked what the status of the proposed visit to Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was as the Committee always planned around that without that ever materialising.

Mr Esau asked whether the Committee had received a draft Annual Report.

The Acting Chairperson said the staff had informed him that it would be circulated before the meeting concluded.

Feedback on the intended study tour to Vietnam to be jointly undertaken with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence

Mr Peter Daniels, Content Advisor, said that the support staff had a discussion with Captain Jaco Theunissen of the South African Navy where it was made clear that the South African Navy needed at least six weeks prior preparation as the application to visit Goma had to go via the UN.At the first meeting of the Committee in 2018 the staff would have to try and get Capt Theunissen to brief the Committee about the visit and its requirements.

Mr Esau suggested that the Committee submit the application for the visit to Goma to Parliament before the House rose as Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had long approved the visit to Goma.

Mr Daniels said the application would need a full Committee and it would be better to submit the application in the New Year.

Mr Esau asked whether the application would require the Joint Standing Committee as well.

Mr Daniels replied in the affirmative.

Mr Marais suggested that the staff programme the joint meeting and briefing by Capt Theunissen for the 31 January 2018.

The Acting Chairperson said that the briefing with Captain Theunissen could only be programmed for a joint meeting with the Standing Committee.

Mr Daniels agreed and said it would be better for the briefing to be in the first week of February in 2018 as the support staff wanted to invite Adv Mashabane of DIRCO to explain DIRCO’s role when SANDF deployed peace keeping operations as the visit to Goma would be a joint visit.

Mr Esau said there was a solution because both departments would be on the flight to Vietnam.

The Acting Chairperson said the Committee would have to stick to the briefing as the officials probably would not be there.

Mr Marias requested that the staff ensure to follow the right procedure in arranging the joint briefing.

Ms Dambuza said she did not see the Department of Transport (DoT) as an invitee to another briefing as per the Committee draft programme. Had there been any progress regarding the appointment of the Director-General for the DoD?

She seconded the adoption of the draft programme for the first quarter of 2017

The Acting Chairperson said a letter had been written as per the Committee request to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula regarding the matter and the Committee was awaiting a response.

The Committee then said farewell speeches and reflected on its work for 2017.

The meeting was then adjourned.


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