Public Service Commission Amendment Bill: DPSA briefing

Premier & Constitutional Matters (WCPP)

18 April 2018
Chairperson: Mr D Mitchell (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Public Service Commission Act
B21-2015 - Public Service Commission Amendment Bill

The Department of Public Services and Administration briefed the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Public Service Commission Act. The first amendment sought to allow for a renewal of the term of the Commissioner on recommendation from the National Assembly or Provincial Legislatures. The second amendment sought to allow the President to appoint an Acting Commissioner in the absence of the Chair and the Deputy Chair.

The Committee agreed that public participation on the bill was required and agreed to hold a public meeting in a yet to be determined venue in Mitchells Plain. Members of the public who could not attend the hearing would be allowed to submit written input.

Meeting report

Briefing on Public Service Commission Amendment Bill
Ms Ranesh Naidoo, Head: Legal Services, Public Service Commission, gave a brief background on the role of the Office of the Public Service Commission and the history of the Bill.

Section 4 of principal Act

Ms Naidoo said that the amendment to Section 4 of the principal Act seeks to allow for continuity in terms of experience of the commissioners. The Constitution allows for a renewal of a Chairperson's term for a maximum of five further years. The Act in it its current form does not allow for a renewal process. The Bill seeks to fill the gap and create a renewal process. It seeks to allow the President to extend the term of the Commissioner on the recommendation of the National Assembly or the Provincial Legislature depending on which commissioner is being appointed or renewed. The Bill further seeks to allow the National Assembly or the Provincial Legislature to provide for the criteria which must be used in such renewals.  

Section 5 of principal Act

Ms Naidoo said the amendment to section 5 is to allow for the designation of an acting Chairperson in the absence of both the Chair and the Deputy Chair. It seeks to allow processes to unfold to assist the administrative gap that is created when a Chair is not present. The Act currently allows for the Deputy Chair to be appointed as the acting Chair in the absence of the Chair. It does not allow for a scenario where there is no Chair and no Deputy Chair. The Bill seeks to allow the President to appoint one Commissioner from the remaining Commissioners to act as the Chairperson in the absence of both the Chair and the Deputy Chair.

Discussion
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked what would happen if there is a commissioner who served previously who did not have the opportunity to be reappointed because there was no legislation in effect to provide for that. Will that person be eligible to serve a second term?

Ms Naidoo replied that section 196(10) of the constitution already places a limitation of a maximum of ten years which a Commissioner can serve over two terms. Even in a case of renewal or reappointment the limit stays at ten years.

Decisions on Actions to be taken
The Chairperson asked the Committee to decide between public hearings or written comments on these amendments. If public hearings are chosen a time and a place needs to be selected. He believed that as a Committee they do have an obligation to allow public participation.

Ms Wenger agreed that the Committee does have an obligation to allow for public participation. She suggested one public hearing at the Legislature due to the cost consideration but it should be widely advertised. The public should also be allowed to submit a written response if they are unable to attend the meeting.

Ms D Gopie (ANC) suggested that the Committee used the free community newspapers so that even people who could not afford to pay for a newspaper were made aware of the meeting.

Adv L Max (DA) agreed that public participation was very important. He asked the Committee to consider the time and the place in which public participation could occur.

Ms Gopie suggested the use of constituency offices to get submissions from the public.

Mr Mitchell asked if from a parliamentary process and legal perspective they were in order to proceed in the manner the Committee was suggesting.

Adv Max said if they do proceed in that manner they need to ensure they can amplify the message.

The Chairperson asked the Committee if it would suffice to have one public hearing in Cape Town and allow all written submission from across the province.

Mr K Magaxa (ANC) said he was uncomfortable with Cape Town as it will alienate people from poorer communities. He suggested any other venue outside of Cape Town.

The Chairperson proposed Mitchells Plain as a venue for the public meeting. He suggested 9 or 16 May, from 6pm to 8pm, pending the parliamentary programme due to the negotiating mandate on the 23rd of May.

The Members agreed.

The Chairperson said they will use community papers, advertised in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa as well as the use of constituency houses as advertising platforms.

The members agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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