The Committee considered the letters from the President dated 26 March and April 2018. The Committee adopted the letters; however, the DA objected due to the delay in the receipt of the letters because Members were not granted sufficient time to follow up on the issues outlined on the letters.
The Committee also adopted its Second Term Programme.
The Chairperson welcomed the Members and immediately dived into the two letters to be considered.
Consideration of the letter from the President dated 26th March 2018
Mr S Marais (DA) wanted to know the reasons that the guidelines in the prescripts were not communicated prior to making the decisions. Secondly, the 1170 troops mentioned in the letter was different from the number previously mentioned to the Committee. If there are more troops to authorise, how is the Committee going to deal with that.
Thirdly, on the budgeted outlined amount, he was uncertain whether the R989 million was adequate for the troops deployed in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) – he asked for a breakdown of what the number presented. If this amount was in line with the decrease in the budget, he expressed his concern about its inadequacy.
Mr D Gamede (ANC) said that members needed to be honest with themselves, and the process of how the letters were distributed to the Committee was discussed previously. The President writes to the Speaker and the Speaker refers the letters to the Committee. In the last meeting it was decided that the Committee would engage with the Speakers’ office about the expediency of the letters.
In responses to Mr Marais’ questions, he suggested the Committee should call the Minister to come and account and talk about these different numbers. It is the Minister that can provide effective answers to these questions.
Mr S Esau (DA) said that sometimes the problem is not with the President’s office; sometimes it is the Speakers’ office that delays sending the letters through. He indicated that it was high time the line was drawn, when the President sends a letter to the Speaker it must be stamped and when the Speaker receives it, her office must also stamp it so that it may be easier for the Committee to determine which office delayed the process.
The Chairperson welcomed the suggestion, he asked Members to move for the adoption of the letter.
The DA objected due the letter due to the fact that the Committee did not receive it on time, and Members were not able to interrogate its contents and follow up on them.
The letter was adopted by the majority.
Consideration of the letter from the President dated April 2018
Mr Marais stated his concerns about the purpose of the deployment because the piracy in the DRC had reduced, it was said that there was no threat, the budget is much lower and the SA Navy is also struggling to protect the sea borders due to financial constraints. He was uncertain what the deployment was based on.
The Chairperson said the threat is still imminent, but the Minister is in the best position to explain the level of the threat and to indicate that the country lacks capacity to fulfil protection on the sea boarders. He reiterated Mr Gamede’s point that the Minister was best suited to respond to the questions.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC) suggested that the Committee should not wait for the President to write these letters, but the Committee should get regular reports on the status of the deployment from the National Defence. The troops may need more resources but because the Committee is in the dark about what is going on, the troops were not able to be assisted.
The Chairperson proposed the adoption of the letter.
The letter was adopted.
Consideration on the Second Term Programme
Mr Marais wanted to know whether there was an extension on the third term Parliamentary programme, because he was informed by a colleague that Parliament oversight might sit right up until July. Thus, if that is the case, it may impact on the Committee’s programme.
The Chairperson welcomed the comment and informed Members that the Secretariat would follow up on that.
The Second Term Committee programme was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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