International Relations (PGIR) on recent activities; High Level Panel on Assessment of Key Legislation & Acceleration of Fundamental Change; HLP Report on Parliament’s Public Participation Model

Joint Rules

24 October 2018
Chairperson: Ms B Mbete (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Joint Rules Committee met to consider a report from the Parliamentary Group on International Relations (PGIR) on recent activities; a progress report from Committees on the Report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change (HLP); and the impact of HLP Report on Parliament’s Public Participation Model.

The Committee was provided with an overview of the formula for the composition of delegations which are based on the formula used in the Fourth Parliament (see attached), but adjusted in accordance with the current party representation in the National Assembly. The underlying principle was that the ANC was entitled to representation of 50% + 1 on each delegation. The aim was to create a formula without undermining proportionality and to ensure that smaller parties are accommodated in international delegations.

Members agreed that it was the principle of inclusive participation that needed to be looked at going forward, because Members did not go on these trips as members of a political party, but rather as a delegation of Parliament.

On the High level Panel Report, Members mentioned that a  committee was set up to look that the High Level Panel Report; a number of recommendations arose from that and it was agreed that it would form part of the legacy report. The concern was that the report will ‘fall between parliaments’, much like the Asmal report without a proper handover and ‘fall through the cracks’. The High Level Panel report was an excellent document that can guide Parliament and committees and the body of knowledge, information and the public participation that went into it should not be wasted. The legacy handover report needs to be comprehensive and directive on what should be done before the Sixth Parliament established itself.

A template has been prepared by the committee section that will be sent out to all the chairpersons – NA and NCOP to among others; report on the High Level Panel Report and to make the necessary recommendations on how to take the process forward. The legacy reports will be completed by committees by 28 November. There will be a follow-up with committees still in the process for those committees to comply.

On the consideration of impact of HLP Report on Parliament’s Public Participation Model, it was reiterated that it was no merely about a report that should be adopted, it was about the lessons that have been learnt and can be passed on to the Sixth Parliament. It should be a serious discussion, in particular about local government, consultation in the process of the public participation model; and consultation with the people.

Some Members did not have time to go through the documents and it was also mentioned that a lot of Members that would want to contribute were not present. Members agreed to a postponement, but also asked the drafters to investigate the cost implications of the recommendations for the next meeting.

 

Meeting report

The agenda of the meeting was adopted.

Consideration and adoption of minutes

Minutes dated 15 November 2017 was adopted.

On matters arising, the Committee Secretary said the joint rules are still before the sub-committee on joint rules.

Minutes dated 28 March 2018 was adopted.

On matters arising, Mr N Singh referred to item 5 of the draft minutes and the participation in the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC). He said it was practically implemented, but was not sure if there was a formal decision and he asked for comment by the Chair of Committees. Smaller parties were allowed to participate in the public hearing. But no formal letter has been received to that effect.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) said the contestation was the broad representation of political parties in the CRC, an specifically a request to review the membership of that committee. After political consultation, it was recognised that although the smaller political parties did not have representation on the CRC, it was not within the Committee’s powers to increase the membership of that committee. However, to accommodate smaller parties to participate meaningfully, one member from each of the smaller parties was allowed to be part of the public participation process. The Rules Committee has not considered the request in terms of the change I formula of representation on the CRC itself.

The Chairperson said she did not see that in the life of the Fifth Parliament, it would serve a purpose for this Committee, in addition to everything else of substance, to be ceased with the issue of the formula.

Mr J Mthembu (ANC) said participation was at the heart of the matter, whether at public hearings or in meetings. If that had been attended to, how their representation was configured can be left to the Sixth Parliament

The Chairperson welcomed everyone.

Report from Parliamentary Group on International Relations (PGIR) on recent activities

Ms G Boroto (ANC) gave an overview of the formula for the composition of delegations which are based on the formula used in the Fourth Parliament (see attached), but adjusted in accordance with the current party representation in the National Assembly. The underlying principle was that the ANC was entitled to representation of 50% + 1 on each delegation. The aim was to create a formula without undermining proportionality and to ensure that smaller parties are accommodated in international delegations.

Discussion

Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) said this matter was discussed in the Chief Whips Forum and she said she also raised this in the March meeting. The formula that was used was not accommodating the EFF since the EFF was not part of the Fourth Parliament. This matter was only being dealt with now and it meant that the EFF ‘was robbed’ all this time from participation in an international delegation.

Ms Boroto replied that Ms Mkhaliphi was ‘trying to confuse the Committee’ since she was the first person consulted and knew that the formula has been in use since 2015. The EFF has never been robbed and has always been included in five member delegations up to 10 members. Although not formally adopted, the formula has been revised and practised.

The Chairperson said everyone started mid-way through 2014 and the implementation of this formula started in 2015 so nobody has been robbed.

Mr M Khawula (IFP) said the NCOP was not mentioned, but was expected to comply. Parliament comprised of two Houses. For future references, he suggested that the NCOP should participate in the process and; not just take orders’.

Mr Singh said it was a principle of inclusive participation that need to be looked at going forward, because Members did not go on these trips as members of a political party, but rather as a delegation of Parliament.

Mr C Mulder (FF+) asked if it was necessary for the ruling party to have a 50% + 1 representation on a delegation that represented Parliament. He said there was no need for an agreement now, but should be looked at after the election.

Ms Boroto said the inclusion of smaller parties can be deliberated on in the Sixth Parliament. The document was in practice now and she doubted there will be any trips in the year.

Mr Mthembu said one of the responsibilities of chief whips ‘was to know who is where’ and therefore there must be consultation with chief whips.

The Chairperson said it was almost a moot point since the document was in practice and with the upcoming elections, it can be formally considered by the next Parliament.

Consideration of progress report from Committees on the Report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change (HLP)

Mr Steenhuisen (DA) said a committee was set up to look that the High Level Panel Report; a number of recommendations arose from that and it was agreed that it would form part of the legacy report. He said he would like time to go through the committee reports in the pack and the committees that have not yet reported should engage with the report and provide some sort of legacy document for the Sixth Parliament to unpack and engage with.  The concern was that the report will ‘fall between parliaments’, much like the Asmal report without a proper handover and ‘fall through the cracks’. The High Level Panel report was an excellent document that can guide Parliament and committees and the body of knowledge, information and the public participation that went into it should not be wasted. The legacy handover report needs to be comprehensive and directive on what should be done before the Sixth Parliament established itself.

Mr Frolick said a template has been prepared by the committee section that will be sent out to all the chairpersons – NA and NCOP to among others; report on the High Level Panel Report and to make the necessary recommendations on how to take the process forward. The legacy reports will be completed by committees by 28 November. There will be a follow-up with committees still in the process for those committees to comply.

Mr Singh asked if there was a document that showed which committees complied and if there was a timeframe for compliance.

Mr Tsenoli said the Speakers Forum should be congratulated for initiating this process. He suggested looking beyond the High Level Panel Report and said it should be in the character of committees to evaluate their work, in particular looking at time committees should spend on the work outsourced to the panel.

The Chairperson referred to Mr Steenhuisen’s comments and the Committee’s responsibility to ensure that the recommendations ‘are not shelved’. She said she had an opportunity to be part of the first three parliaments and to return for the fifth and did ask the staff to go through the records to see what happened to those recommendations that were supposed to be channelled for implementation. Members should be able to see what has been done with earlier recommendations.

The Committee Secretary said the document will be circulated.  

Ms T Mokwele (EFF) referred to a previous report tabled in Parliament on what specifically party representatives in the NCOP was supposed to do. In terms of the Constitution political parties are supposed to find expression in the running of the House, but the manner in which the rules and legislation are stipulated prohibited participation by other political parties. She asked if all recommendations, even those made before the High Level Panel was established, be included.  

The Chairperson said she will task the Chief Whip of the NCOP to address this with Ms Mokwele after the meeting.

Ms Mokwele said this was a joint sitting and it dealt with the issues of both Houses.

The Chairperson said the agenda was based on matters from both Houses – both NA and NCOP. It has long been identified and agreed upon as joint issues; some of which the Constitution spelled out as “joint interests”. She said she was not disregarding Ms Mokwele’s concern.

Consideration of impact of HLP Report on Parliament’s Public Participation Model

The Chairperson said when she read the document; a couple of issues were of great interest. It was not merely about a report that should be adopted, it was about the lessons that have been learnt and can be passed on to the Sixth Parliament. It should be a serious discussion, in particular about local government, consultation in the process of the public participation model; and consultation with the people.

Mr Mthembu said he only got the document now and had not had an opportunity to go through the document and therefore cannot make any input. He suggested Members be given some time to go through the document.

Mr Steenhuisen added that a lot of people were not present and he mentioned in particular Ms Thandi Modise (ANC) who would want to make contributions. He suggested convening next Wednesday.

Ms Mkhaliphi said this Committee took time to convene with the last meeting happening in March. She agreed that it was an important document and she asked what the timeframe and the expected contribution by political parties are in order to have a focused document.

The Chairperson said the High level Panel existed and did its work in 24 months, because it included public hearings and workshops with specialists.  The report will focus on the experiences in key focus areas with specific recommendations to the next Parliament. It was a recommendation of the Fourth Parliament that led to the formation of the High Level Panel. These things are not done as political parties, but rather as elected representatives.

Mr Singh agreed on the postponement and asked that the drafters also looked at the financial implications of the implementation of the recommendations for the next time the Committee met.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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