Cases before the Committee

Powers and Privileges of Parliament

15 November 2018
Chairperson: Mr B Mashile (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Relevant documents:
Matters and referrals to Committee
Letter from Secretary to Parliament
NA: Questions for Oral Reply; Deputy President Cluster 4: Economics 2. Consideration of request for approval of international agreements
NA: Consideration of Rental Housing Amendment Bill; Consideration of request for approval of Acceptance of the DOHA Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Draft Resolution (The Leader of the Opposition): Motion of no confidence in the Speaker of the National Assembly
NA: Consideration of Report of Ad Hoc Committee on report by the president regarding security upgrades at Nkandla, Private Residence of the PresidentNA: Plenary: Questions to the President

The Committee met to decide on which transgressions referred to it should be pursued or be withdrawn against various Members. Highlights of the deliberations were as follows:

On the two matters referred to the Committee on 10 December 2014, the first pertained to the conduct of the Leader of Opposition, Mr M Maimane on 13 November 2014. Mr Maimane was repeatedly informed by the Speaker that he was not recognised, and asked to take his seat, but refused. Similarly, Mr M Waters, on that same day, was repeatedly asked by the Speaker to take a seat, but refused. He was asked to withdraw from the House, and still refused. An ANC member suggested that these matters be referred to the disciplinary committee as new rules were now applicable, and the Committee agreed. The rules at the time were limited and not as substantive as they are now. The 30 January 2017 referral of an allegation of contempt regarding a statement made by Minister of State Security, Mr D Mahlobo in the National Assembly on 16 November 2016 was highlighted. It was alleged that he had deliberately misled the House when he made a statement that directly contradicted an earlier statement about his relationship with a student activist. The ANC study group felt that the matter would have to be considered in terms of the schedule, the rules, and how these matters are investigated. The matter could not just be taken off the list as the Committee had done with the other matters. A DA Member agreed and added that she believed this was a matter that falls squarely within the ambit of the Powers and Privileges Committee. The matter was recent enough and the Committee should look at the process and see how it could proceed with it. The Committee consequently took a resolution that the aforesaid referral be taken as a pending disciplinary case. The Committee would still have to decide on what procedure should be followed to process the case. On the 13 April 2017 referral on the allegation of breach of privilege raised by Mr J Steenhuisen on against former President Zuma on 9 March 2017, the Committee agreed that this matter was obsolete as the former President is no longer bound by the rules of the House.

Meeting report

Consideration of matters and referrals to Committee

The Chairperson welcomed everyone and took the Committee through matters and referrals from 30 October 2014 to 28 June 2018. The first referral was the 17 September 2014 incident involving Mr F Shivambu showing the middle finger to the Deputy President of the House. Subsequently, Mr Shivambu requested and was given an opportunity to make a personal explanation about the incident. He went on to apologise for showing the middle finger. The apology was tendered on 4 November 2014.

Ms J Kilian (ANC) suggested that the matter be considered to have been dealt with as Mr Shivambu had apologised for his conduct.

Members agreed with the proposal.

The Chairperson said the Committee would go with majority view. The aforesaid matter was considered finalised and closed.

The Chairperson said the second referral pertained to remarks by Ms B Mabe during remainder of her speech on 16 September 2014 when she referred to the Leader of the Opposition as the “bloody bastard”. Following this incident, a letter of apology dated 17 April 2015 from Ms Mabe was sent to the Office of the Speaker. The Chairperson was also copied in this letter wherein she withdrew the use of the derogatory terms.

Ms Kilian recommended that the matter involving Ms Mabe be considered closed as she had tendered her apology following the incident.

Members agreed.

The Chairperson highlighted two matters referred to the Committee on 10 December 2014. The first pertained to the conduct of the Leader of Opposition, Mr M Maimane on 13 November 2014. Mr Maimane was repeatedly informed by the Speaker that he was not recognised, and asked to take his seat, but refused. Similarly, Mr M Waters, on that same day, was repeatedly asked by the Speaker to take a seat, but refused. He was asked to withdraw from the House, and still refused.

Ms Kilian believed these matters should be referred to the disciplinary committee as new rules were now applicable. The rules at the time were limited and not as substantive as they are now. She thus suggested that the matters be taken off the list of the Committee’s pending cases as they should be dealt with by the disciplinary committee.

Members agreed.

The Chairperson said the 30 January 2017 referral was an allegation of contempt regarding a statement made by Minister of State Security, Mr D Mahlobo in the National Assembly on 16 November 2016. It was alleged that he had deliberately misled the House when he made a statement that directly contradicted an earlier statement about his relationship with a student activist.

Ms Kilian said the ANC study group felt that the matter would have to be considered in terms of the schedule, the rules, and how these matters are investigated. The matter could not just be taken off the list as the Committee had done with the other matters.

Prof A Lotriet (DA) agreed and added that she believed this was a matter that falls squarely within the ambit of the Powers and Privileges Committee. The matter was recent enough and the Committee should look at the process and see how it could proceed with it.

The Chairperson said the aforesaid referral would then be taken as a pending disciplinary case. The Committee would still have to decide on what procedure should be followed to process the case.

The Chairperson highlighted the 13 April 2017 referral on the allegation of breach of privilege raised by Mr J Steenhuisen against former President Zuma on 9 March 2017. He pointed out that this matter was obsolete as the former President is no longer bound by the rules of the House.

Members agreed that the matter be considered obsolete. 

The Chairperson noted the 24 July 2017 complaint by Secretary to Parliament (Mr Mgidlana). Mr Mgidlana believed Mr F Shivambu was in contempt of Parliament for alleging that the Secretary to Parliament was corrupt.

Ms Kilian said this matter would probably be resolved by having the Secretary to Parliament submitting his reply to the allegations during a House debate.

The Chairperson pointed out that Members could not cast aspersions on public office holders whose removal is dependent upon a decision of both Houses of Parliament. Any reflections on the integrity of such public office bearers could only be done through substantive motions. He noted that the Secretary to Parliament had submitted a statement pursuant to his complaint for perusal by the Committee. He suggested that the matter be closed as the Secretary had submitted his reply as requested. The Secretary’s reply would be ATC’d (announcements, tablings and committee reports).

Mr R Mdakane (ANC) felt the Chairperson’s proposal was appropriate. The matter should be considered closed following the Secretary being afforded the right of reply.

Members agreed.

The Chairperson highlighted the 4 September 2017, 1 June and 28 June 2018 referrals. First, Mr Dirks was alleged to have deliberately misled the House by denying when asked whether he had shown an inappropriate gesture in the House on 31 August 2017. The video footage showed that he had shown the middle finger. Second was a referral on DA Members’ conduct (Mr T Majola and Mr T Brauteseth). The two Members allegedly prevented Mr Shaik Emam (NFP) from returning to his seat after his declaration on 2nd reading of Appropriation Bill on 25 May 2018. Third was the allegation that Mr Dirks insulted and threatened to assault Ms T Mantashe in the House on 30 November 2017.

Mr Killian suggested that the Members in question be given an opportunity to make representations in terms of Rule 91(2) or alternatively send in written apologies. She pointed out that these were disciplinary matters.

Mr Mdakane said the matters could be referred to the disciplinary committee for adjudication, which would then determine the appropriate sanctions. He, however, wanted to know if it was procedural for the Committee to refer a matter to another parliamentary committee.

The Chairperson asked for legal guidance on whether parliamentary rules could be applied retrospectively in respect of incidents that took place prior to the establishment of the disciplinary committee.

Adv Frank Jenkins, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said the Rules, particularly those relating to the discipline of Members, could not be applied retrospectively as this would be problematic. Also, a committee of Parliament could not refer a matter to another committee- committees could only meet jointly for concurrence.

Mr Mdakane further suggested that the Committee report back to the Chamber and request that these three matters be taken to the disciplinary committee. He believed the Powers and Privileges Committee should only be dealing with serious violations of the Rules. Therefore, giving consideration to these matters would be an unfair way of dealing with Members.

Mr B Bongo (ANC) agreed with Mr Mdakane. He suggested the three matters be referred back to the Office of the Speaker, which will then consider redirecting it to the disciplinary committee.

Mr T Rawula (ANC) believed it was not the role of the Committee to make a determination about where matters and referrals belong to. The Committee could only refer to its terms of reference then notify the Speaker if it believes these three matters do not fall under its ambit.

Ms Kilian noted that Members were in agreement that these referrals were better placed as disciplinary committee matters and therefore the Committee would humbly suggest that they should be dealt with differently.

The Chairperson agreed with Members and the final determination was that the three referrals would be sent back to the Office of the Speaker.

Adoption of minutes

The Chairperson put the minutes of meetings held on 5 September and 8 November 2018 up for adoption.

The minutes were adopted by the Committee.

 

The meeting was adjourned.

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