Due to objections from the EFF (in particular), the DA and an ANC Member on matters of procedure, and the heated exchanges which ensued, the Committee could not continue with its meeting to consider the report on its oversight visit to the North West.
The meeting also noted a complaint from an EFF member on the Committee staff’s poor communication with some of the Committee members including herself.
A second report on the cancelled visit to the North West was deferred as it had not been circulated before the meeting.
The Committee managed to adopt the minutes of two previous meetings
The Chairperson welcomed members and briefly outlined the context regarding the content of the reports under consideration.
Adoption of minutes of previous meetings
Ms T Mokwele (EFF; North West) interrupted the Chairperson’s opening remarks and asked the meeting to first deal with the minutes of previous meetings ahead of deliberations on the Committee’s oversight visit report.
Ms T Motara (ANC; Gauteng) supported the motion, and the Committee then began a page by page perusal of the minutes of two previous meetings held on 6 September 2018 and 9 October 2018.
Before the adoption of the minutes for the first meeting, Ms Mokwele asked for permission to register a complaint regarding the poor state of communication between the Committee staff and some of the Committee members, including herself.
As evidence, she cited the failure of the Committee staff to inform her of the cancellation of a previously planned trip to North West province, until the “eleventh hour”, when she and others were already at the airport to board the scheduled flight.
Ms Mokwele said this was not the first time such poor communication had occurred and she therefore wanted to state her objection to what she called “an act of indiscipline” and urged that it should not happen again.
The Chairperson said Ms Mokwele’s comments were “serious” and had been noted. The minutes of 6 September 2018 were adopted with Ms T Wana (ANC) moving for adoption and Mr M Monakedi (ANC) supporting.
The Committee then adopted the minutes of 9 October 2018 with Mr T Motlashuping (ANC) moving to adopt and Ms Wana supporting.
Report on Cancelled Visit
The Chairperson said the next item was a report that had been put together by Parliament’s Legal Services to address the cancellation of a previously planned visit to North West Province. He said that since the report had not been circulated before the meeting, Members should decide whether to consider it then or at another meeting.
The Committee adopted Ms Motara’s motion that the matter be deferred to another time.
Discussion on the Oversight Visit Report
The Chairperson then asked members to begin a consideration of the main business of the day, which was the Oversight Report on the visit to the North West Province.
Ms Mokwele interrupted the Chairperson’s reading of the recommendations of the report. Her objection was two-fold:
- the Chairperson was reading out recommendations without the Committee having considered the content preceding the recommendations
- the report had only been circulated the previous day and she, including some of her colleagues, had not had sufficient time to interrogate the report
Ms Mokwele therefore moved that the meeting adjourn and that consideration of the report be scheduled for another meeting.
The Chairperson told Ms Mokwele not to blame the Committee for failing to “do your homework”.
Ms Mokwele replied that her understanding was that Members had already agreed to shelve the matter, and therefore could not understand why the Chairperson was continuing to read from the report.
Mr M Monakedi (ANC; Limpopo) pointed out that Ms Mokwele was confusing the report under consideration with the one deferred earlier, which had been about the cancellation of an oversight visit to the North West.
Ms Mokwele continued to insist that the report under consideration had only been circulated the previous day and therefore any deliberation on it with a view to adoption was unfair.
The Chairperson put it to Ms Mokwele that she was “totally confused”.
Ms Motara said “for different reasons”, she was in agreement with Ms Mokwele. Firstly, she pointed out that a draft report should be circulated with draft recommendations, which in this case had not been done. Secondly, the draft recommendations were “not Committee recommendations”. Therefore on procedural grounds Ms Mokwele was right.
Warning of the danger of the meeting “degenerating further” Mr A Nyambi (ANC; Mpumalanga) asked Members to weigh the pros and cons of Ms Mokwele’s concerns about lack of time, and said if Members agreed with her, then the matter was settled.
Mr M Chetty (DA; KZN) said this was reminiscent of the old apartheid government whose officials “gave us volumes of stuff” with a limited amount of time “so we could be abused”. He said the oversight visit had been divided into two groups and the meeting therefore would have to combine the experiences of the two groups and then come up with a collective position. It was not acceptable for him to sit in a meeting and have somebody else’s recommendations read out to him. Who came up with those recommendations?
Mr S Mohai (ANC; Free State) said he did not understand why discussion had become so heated merely over a procedural matter. If Members felt that procedure did not allow for the meeting to go on, then simply asking for a postponement should not be a big issue.
Mr Mohai added that Mr Chetty had “gone too far” in comparing a democratic government with a racist minority regime. It was “extremely out of order” and Mr Chetty should withdraw his comments.
At this stage the Chairperson had to call for order as the meeting became a shouting match between Mr Chetty, Mr Mohai and Ms Mokwele.
The Chairperson said he was disappointed with how things had turned out, and amidst heckling from Ms Mokwele and her EFF colleague (who were already on their feet and walking out), he adjourned the meeting.