The Committee considered the draft Committee report on Vote 1: Premier, in the Schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill 2018.
The main concern raised was the delay in the appointment of a Children’s Commissioner, and the fact that no funds had been allocated or ring-fenced in anticipation of the appointment. The Chairperson indicated that when the Children’s Bill was introduced to Parliament in the first quarter of the 2018/19 financial year, funding for the appointment would probably be allocated through the adjustment budget process.
The draft Committee report on vote 1 was adopted with substantive amendments, and an objection from the ANC on the grounds that it believed that some of the funding for the broadband initiative in the Department of the Premier could have been utilised for additional teacher posts in the province.
Draft Committee report on Vote 1: Premier
The Chairperson asked Members to please indicate any changes the Committee would like to effect in the draft report, as he would be reading through it page by page.
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) reminded the Committee that the ANC had raised concerns about the Children’s Bill. Even though there had been a proposed amendment to the provincial constitution in 2016 which would have made discretionary the appointments of the Children’s Commissioner and the Environmental Commissioners, the public had been clear in their view during the public participation hearings that both Commissions could not be discretionary, but should be duly appointed. When the Premier had committed to appoint a Children’s Commission, the concern raised by the ANC then had been that the Premier had made the same commitment in 2009. The worry was that there would be further delays, and in the budget currently under review there was no ring-fenced and allocated amount in anticipation of the appointment of the Children’s Commissioner. The response had been that the budget for the Commission could be dealt with in the adjustments budget process. However, he was proposing inclusion in the report of the concerns of some Members regarding the delay in the appointment of the Children’s Commissioner, and the fact that there was no ring-fenced amount for the establishment of that Commission.
Ms D Gopie (ANC) added that there also had been no timeframe allocated for the process of concluding the establishment of the Children’s Commission.
The Chairperson said he believed there had been no delay in the appointment of the Children’s Commissioner. The process had been started in 2017, and public participation had been so extensive that it had been extended. Once the bill came to Parliament, the Committee would also have a public participation drive, so he was not convinced about a delay in the process. There were clear timeframes for all of that work, which was captured in the draft report. When the bill was introduced to Parliament in the first quarter of the 2018/19 financial year, funding for the appointment would probably be allocated through the adjustment budget process. He therefore felt that the appointment process was on track.
Mr Dugmore recalled that the Committee had asked for a commitment to a timeframe, not for the passing of the Children’s Bill, but for the actual establishment of the Commission, because it was generally known that the frustration came from the fact that in 2009 the Premier had made the undertaking, and this was nine years ago. As the Committee sat, there remained no Children’s Commission. The findings and concerns in the draft report of the Committee only noted the introduction of the Bill to Parliament in the first quarter of the new financial year without outlining a programme, how long the process was envisaged to take, when advertisements would go out and all other processes related to the appointment of a commissioner. Although all of those had been asked for, no commitment from the Premier’s department had been forthcoming.
The Chairperson proposed that the Department on the Premier be invited to brief the Committee on the process of the establishment of the office of the Children’s Commissioner, and said that the establishment could only be started after the bill had been assented to in Parliament. He asked Mr Dugmore to allow the Premier’s department to come and present to the Committee on that process at its next meeting.
Mr Dugmore proposed that the proposal by the Chairperson be captured under ‘resolutions,’ as he had just proposed including a programme of action leading up to the physical appointment of the Children’s Commissioner.
He added that regarding the Environmental Commissioner, the Department of the Premier was of the view that an environmental commissioner was not desirable, though that appointment was obligatory in terms of the provincial constitution. He asked that a distinction be made on the constitutional and policy positions, as had been outlined to the Committee in the draft report.
The Chairperson said that the Department had also noted that an Environmental Commissioner had not been appointed in the past 20 years. All of that would be verified from the record, so that it could be inserted in the Committee’s report correctly.
He asked for a motion on the draft report.
Mr Dugmore said that the objection of the ANC in not supporting the draft Committee report on Vote 1: Premier in the schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill 2018, was because it believed that some of the funding for the broadband initiative in the Department of the Premier could have been directed to the creation of additional posts for teachers in the provinces.
The Draft Committee report on Vote 1: Premier in the schedule to the Western Cape Appropriation Bill 2018 was adopted, with substantive amendments and an objection from the ANC, as captured above.
The Committee considered and adopted its minutes of the 9 March without any amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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