Documents handed out: A-List of the Foreign Service Bill; Canadian Report [awaited]
The Committee continued with clause-to-clause discussion on the Foreign Service Bill. There were discussions under clause 6: Diplomatic Academy on whether there was any consideration that was given on the insertion of “any” in clause 6(1) (a) as this assumed that any other person could come to the Diplomatic Academy to be trained by the Department. The Department should perhaps request an official letter from a person who wanted to be trained in the Diplomatic Academy. The Committee Content Adviser responded that the concern that was raised by Members was that all people in the three spheres of government like mayors and councilors should be subjected to the training in the Diplomatic Academy. The State Law Adviser further explained that indeed the amended clause seemed a bit broad but the request to train the individual in the Diplomatic Academy would certainly come from the institution and not just an individual.
The Committee proposed an insertion of new clause 8 based from the Canadian report as the Committee would be borrowing from this report as this was good practice on the creation of the Inspection unit that is responsible to check the general state of the missions and whether people are working well and financial management was in place. Members said that the Canadian model was talking about the Inspector General and it was unclear if the Committee should also be talking about this Inspector General or there would be someone to be appointed by the Minister to play a similar role as the Inspector General. The State Law Adviser cautioned the Committee on the creation of another unit as this would have cost implications and further implications structurally. There should be a multidisciplinary team and the Department currently would send a team to inspect any challenges experienced in the missions. There should be action taken when a multidisciplinary team is sent by the Department to inspect the missions. The Committee supported the Canadian model that as it always ensured that the Inspector General office was working hand-in-hand with the office of the Auditor-General (AG) to address the risk areas. The AG always had a problem with this unqualified audit report from the Department and this is something that would need to be addressed.
The Committee decided that 15 August would be the date for formal adoption of the Bill and this would be communicated with programming Chairperson and the Speaker of Parliament.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and indicated that there had been apologies from Dr H Mkhize (ANC), Ms S Kaylan (DA), Mr D Bergman (DA) and Ms S Mashabela (EFF).
Mr S Makgalapa (DA) requested to be excused at 11:00 am.
The Chairperson noted the request that had been made and asked the Parliamentary Legal Adviser to take note of this when reading the added amendments from yesterday’s meeting so that the Member does not miss out on important amendments.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser mentioned that Members should have a proposed A-list in front of them together with amendments that had been made by Members yesterday and then the Bill as introduced. It must be stated that all the clauses had amendments.
Locally recruited personnel
The Chairperson asked for further clarification on the definition of “locally recruited personnel”.
Adv Sandea de Wet, Chief State Law Adviser clarified that the people that are being employed by the Department still needed to comply with the rules and regulations of the country they would be based in. the Department had cases where a South African employed but failed to comply with the requirements of that state like having a work permit. The missions need to make all country’s regulations including work permit, migration regulations and other measures.
The Chairperson appreciated the clarification that had been made.
There were no discussions by Members from clause 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11 ad 12.
Clause 6: Diplomatic Academy
The Chairperson wanted to know if there was any consideration that was given on the insertion of “any) in clause 6(1) (a) as this assumed that any other person could come to the Diplomatic Academy to be trained by the Department. The Department should perhaps request an official letter from a person who wanted to be trained in the Diplomatic Academy.
Ms Dineo Mosala, Committee Content Adviser, responded that the concern that was raised by Members was that all people in the three spheres of government like mayors and councilors should be subjected to the training in the Diplomatic Academy.
Adv de Wet explained that indeed the amended clause seemed a bit broad but the request to train the individual in the Diplomatic Academy would certainly come from the institution and not just an individual. The request would sometimes come from the premier’s office, mayor’s office or heads of departments or institutions. The Chairperson was perhaps right that this should be tightened up clause 6(1) (a)
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser noted the concern of the Chairperson and said that this would be tightened up to ensure that the training was not just for any individual.
Members agreed with the decision.
New clause 8
The Chairperson mentioned that Members were forwarded with a pager from the Canadian report as the Committee would be borrowing from this report as this was good practice that could be incorporated in the Bill. The Inspection Unit is in the Global Affairs Canada and this was equivalent to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). This unit can be unleashed into any of the 168 missions abroad of Canada and it can visit 10 up to 12 missions per year. The unit is responsible to check the general state of the mission and whether people are working well and financial management. The unit is also responsible to check risks and assets and all these things we are complaining about in the Committee. The unit in Canada is headed by the Inspector General. If the Committee were to borrow this then we would say the Department must create this specific unit.
Adv Sandea de Wet proposed the insertion of a clause to state that “the Department must on a regular basis conduct monitoring activity activities to assess the compliance of the South African missions with relevant law, prescripts and take the necessary steps to mitigate which had been identified”. The law applicable to the missions included the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Foreign Service Bill. Therefore, there would those checks and balances and incorporate the Canadian model and prescripts in terms of how the Canadian model had been set up in relation to its missions.
The Chairperson said that the Canadian model was talking about the Inspector General and it was unclear if the Committee should also be talking about this Inspector General or there would be someone to be appointed by the Minister to play a similar role as that of the Inspector General.
Adv Sandea de Wet commented that we should be cautious not to create another unit as this would have cost implications and further implications structurally. There should be a multidisciplinary team and the Department currently would send a team to inspect any challenges experienced in the missions. There should be action taken when a multidisciplinary team is sent by the Department to inspect the missions. The Department would really caution the Committee against creating a total separate structure to deal with this inspection as you would need an experience to conduct this activity.
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) supported the Canadian model that as it always ensured that the Inspector General office was working hand-in-hand with the office of the Auditor-General (AG) to address the risk areas. The AG always had a problem with this unqualified audit report from the Department and this is something that would need to be addressed. The qualified audit opinion by the Department was linked to the documents that are not accounted for between the Department and the Department of Home Affairs. The issue of financial management of the missions was the problem within the Department and this was also linked to the unqualified audit opinion and the Canadian model could be able to address the risk areas.
Ms T Kenye (ANC) asked the Committee to be specific when it comes to this issue of inspection as this was an important unit in Canada. The Inspector General office is not in the Risk Management Office. The Risk Management Office would be the one responsible to enforce compliance.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) said that she was aware of the concerns that had been flagged by the Department especially on the fact that our Human Resource (HR) is bloated. The Department was generally not doing well despite having the Risk Management Committee and there are challenges in terms of human resources.
The Chairperson mentioned that the Committee cannot conduct unannounced visits to these missions and the AG randomly identifies problematic areas within the Department and then come up with recommendations. The Risk and Audit Committee also does not visit the foreign missions and this was properly not part of their mandates. The Risk and Audit Committee had been to the Committee and they indicated that they are not being listened by the Director-General (DG) of the Department. The Committee had meetings with the Risk and Audit Committee and they would tell the Committee that in some instances the DG and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Department would not be present in some meetings and these are the people to enforce and implement recommendations. In some cases the meetings are postponed at the last hour and we do not know what the Department was hiding. The Committee could say that the existing structure within the Department could conduct this inspection but we do not know who is going to carry out this mandate and whether it would be the DG that would constitute a multidisciplinary team. The Department in its current state could not carry out this mandate. The Committee should include what the multidisciplinary team would do.
Mr Makgalapa said that we really needed this Inspectorate as we cannot leave things to the Risk and Audit Committee including the multidisciplinary team as they were not yielding results. The Department created the Chief Operating (COO) to assist the DG in monitoring of the work of the missions. It must be made clear that putting this under DG would be a futile exercise and we need to create that Inspectorate that conducts that particular exercise. The Committee should also indicate that the reporting by the Inspectorate should be coming to the Committee so as to be abreast about what was happening in these missions.
The Chairperson admitted that he was still in support of the creation of this Inspectorate.
Adv Sandea de Wet suggested that we should list all the issues that the deal multidisciplinary team should be dealing with so that we do not have an exhaustive list. There should also be an obligation from the Department to take necessary steps that would flow from the assessment that had been made by the team.
Mr Makgalapa wanted to make it clear that there should be an Inspectorate that would ensure that there is compliance, oversight and early warning system from the Department.
Ms Kenye asked if there was any particular reason why we cannot take this Canadian model as is.
The Chairperson clarified that the Canadian model included the Ethics Bureau and that Bureau is headed by the Inspector General and what we are saying is that we are not going to create a new section in South Africa. We are not going to have the Inspector General within the Department as there would be no new people hired. The Minster would constitute people within the Department and these would not be new people. The money to be spent by the Department would only be on travelling.
Members appreciated this clarification from the Chairperson.
The Chairperson indicated that the possible date for the formal adoption of the Bill is on 15 August 2018. The programming Chairperson would need to be briefed to brief the Speaker that the Bill would be completed by 15 August 2018.
Committee Tour to Namibia
The Chairperson said that it was still unclear if the Committee would be going to Namibia but if this visit was still to take place then it would happen between now and the 15 August. The visit should happen midweek as it is the Committee work.
The Committee Secretary mentioned that the proposed date is for Members to travel on 18 July, work on 19 July and 20 July and this was before Parliament reopened from Constituency period.
Ms Mosala noted that the Committee would have only two meetings in August in terms of the process to be followed.
The Parliamentary Legal Adviser stated that it would be very tight for the Committee to only have 1 meeting in August considering that we still needed to deal with the issue of proposed clause 8 and the issue of the Inspector still needed to be clarified.
The Chairperson said that the Committee should meet on 15 August and see the progress that would be made in that meeting before scheduling another meeting. He then thanked everyone in the meeting including the legal drafting team on the work that had been done. The Committee would also like to thank all the officials who are working with us.
The meeting was adjourned.
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