The meeting began with the Content advisor going through the financial statements of the Committee’s 2018 annual report and its 5th Parliament Legacy Report (2014 - 2019). There were a few technical and grammatical changes, and the reports were duly adopted by the Members.
The Chairperson raised a concern arising from the previous Committee meeting which had dealt with issues in the horse racing industry. The Committee had engaged in a thorough discussion which had emphasised investigating outstanding issues and the importance of investing time, money and effort in this industry. The Members acknowledged that though they may hold opposing viewpoints on the subject, the manner and timing in which the opinions were addressed was important.
The Members proposed a few spelling and grammatical changes to the minutes, after which they were duly adopted. The Chairperson informed Committee that there would be no further meetings this year.
The Chairperson referred briefly mentioned the walkabout at the Cape Town Labour Centre before the meeting. He and a few Committee Members had been received by the Director General (DG) of the Department of Labour (DoL), the provincial manager and the Labour Centre manager. They had been informed that there had been an inspection on 9 November, and they were waiting for a report. The last inspection had been done on 2017, and they had tried to correct what had been identified. The Chairperson hoped that whenever maintenance issues were identified, they would be sorted out. As a labour centre, the building had two levels and the other floors were occupied by the South African Police Service (SAPS). There were challenges in terms of coordination and managing the building. They had issues with the Department of Public Works (DPW) servicing/maintaining the building. Since it was a government building, it was meant to be serviced by the DPW. Despite a few challenges, the Labour Centre seemed organised.
Adoption of Committee’s 2018 Report
The Committee Content Advisor went through the Annual Report, which had previously been distributed to all Committee Members, and advised of the few technical changes that were made. The financial expenditure for 2018 had been added on Page 13. The expenditure reflected from 1 April 2018 to 9 November 2018. The full year budget totalled R650 000 million, with actual expenditure standing at R280 456 million (43%). The report had two annexures attached. The first was the Committee’s strategic plan for 2014 to 2019, which had already been adopted. The second was the master attendance list, which captured details of attendance for all Committee meetings by Members since the beginning of the year until 9 November.
The Chairperson thanked the content advisor for the briefing on the report and asked the Members if they had any issues.
Mr D America (DA) said that he did not see any problem with the report and the financial expenditure. He was only curious to know more about the component on the financial report labelled “Entertainment – Domestic - MPs.”
Mr M Bagraim (DA) also remarked that he was happy with the report.
Ms S Van Schalkwyk (ANC) commented that the previously recommended inputs had been captured and proposed adoption of the report.
The Chairperson made reference to page 6 of the annual report on the first term section of Table 3: Legislation processed during the year 2018. He asked if the phrasing of ‘Not Applicable’ was appropriate and whether there was no legislation. If that was the case, the section was fine and could be left as it was.
The Content Advisor responded that there had been no legislation.
The Chairperson referred to page 8, where he noted a similar issue. He asked for confirmation if all the three bills were for 2017.
The Content Advisor confirmed that the bills were for 2017.
Ms L Theko (ANC) seconded the motion for adoption of the annual report.
They were no objections to the report.
The Chairperson declared the report formally adopted.
Adoption of Committee’s 5th Parliament Legacy Report (2014 - 2019)
The Content Advisor informed the Committee that the report had a few minor technical changes.
He went through the 2014/15 financial report, where the overall budget allocation was R4.5 million, and the total expenditure was R3.7 million (84%). In 2015/16, the total budget was R625 255, and actual expenditure was R583 201 (93%). The budget for 2016/17 was R880 811, and actual expenditure was R551 866 (63%). The Committee had overspent its R427 576 allocation for 2017/18 by R19 132 (4%).
Mr L Khoarai (ANC) asked for clarification on the budget for 2015/16 in terms of percentage of expenditure, and allocation for 2014/15.
The Content Advisor restated the figures for the 2014/15 and 2015/16.
The Chairperson asked about the attendance register, advising that it should be a true reflection of the Members’ attendance as contained in the approved minutes, and should also be revised to reflect the recently held meeting. He suggested a few technical changes to the format of the report in certain sections.
Ms Van Schalkwyk proposed adoption of the Legacy report.
Mr Bagraim seconded the proposal.
There were no objections from the Committee.
The report was adopted, subject to the few changes to be made.
Issues arising from 14 November Committee meeting
The Chairperson expressed his concern, stating that he had felt embarrassed at the previous meeting about how things had transpired during their discussions about the horse racing industry. He had not expected what had been said by one of the Committee Members. He said if Members had any reservations and problems with the agenda items for meetings, they should clearly state them beforehand. This was because the agenda was sent in advance, approved in the meetings and the delegations and visitors were announced well in advance, so that if there was anyone who had any different view or opinion they could raise and express it.
Unfortunately, even though the agenda was announced beforehand and the visitors announced, it was interesting to note that once the visitors had been announced at the meeting, their integrity and presence at the meeting was questioned. He had found it embarrassing, after having invited the Members of the public to the meeting, to have them mistreated or mishandled. He suggested that where there were differences of opinions, personal opinions should be raised in a humane manner. He commented that Mr Bagraim had written a letter to the media that seemed to paint a picture that the Committee had been confused. He asked Mr Bagraim to explain why he had acted in such manner.
Mr Bagraim said he had felt embarrassed by the Committee’s behaviour and the legal advice given to the guests. He felt that the advice was wrong. He would be happy to expand on that to the Committee in writing if they so wished. He reminded the Committee that he had raised the issue on the horse racing industry six months ago, or longer. He believed that the horse racing industry was not worth investing in. He felt that a lot of time, money and effort was wasted on this industry when there were so many other industries that could be invested in. He believed that it was his right to raise that issue publicly, as he had done in the press. He said that when giving legal advice to individuals in the public, it may be worthwhile to first check the advice before giving it. He was willing to discuss more on viable options where money, time and effort could have been used. He did not understand why there were nine DoL officials. If he had a different opinion, he should be free to express it.
Ms Van Schalkwyk commented that it was important that there must be allowance for people to express their views. However, in the process, the rights of other individuals should not be trampled. She did not have any particular objections to Mr Bagraim raising his issues, but the timing should just be careful, as whatever is said portrays a picture of the Committee. She believed that during in-house sessions the Committee could take the opportunity to express their views, as opposed to airing different viewpoints in public, which showed the Committee was in disagreement. She added that the horseracing industry was a multimillion industry, and the workers in the horseracing industry should be accorded the same right and protection as any other workers. She did not believe the industry was a waste of money.
The Chairperson clarified that it was not about freedom of speech, but rather the timing of the views as the Committee. He had found it embarrassing that it was only when the meeting started that the presence of the visitor was questioned. The unfortunate part was that Mr Bagraim had not been part of the oversight visit conducted, and he seemed to be missing the context of the visit. The context of that visit was what had made the Committee continue engaging, because when they got to the site they had noted a number of issues, such as:
- there were grooms who were paid in cash, and others who were paid with payslips;
- there were other deductions for some employees, and not for others;
- they were also informed that the trainers were employers of the grooms, but the very same trainers were not the people who were providing the accommodation for the grooms;
- Phumelela provided accommodation for the grooms and the trainers were not paying Phumelela for the accommodation of their grooms.
The question that needed to be asked was how Phumelela could spend accommodation money on people who were not their employees, and that there was no record that the trainers were renting. They had also been informed that the trainers had lease agreements for their stables, and that in the agreements, Phumelela expected the trainers to comply with labour laws.
When one looks at all these issues deeply, there was a need to get clarification on the responsibilities. There was an indication that Phumelela had responsibility over the grooms -- providing accommodation, security, stables and everything for trainers doing their work. It seemed as though other labour laws were already being breached. In the past, there were no unions for the grooms. These were the things that had happened at that time and it could not be said that money was being misused to follow up on these issues. There was a need to make follow up, as there were a number of issues outstanding. It was therefore very concerning that one Committee Member felt embarrassed by the Committee approving.
The Chairperson also clarified that he did not offer legal advice, but rather advice that they needed to be organised for them to enjoy the benefit of bargaining with the labour union and putting their issues to any department impacting on the horseracing. If they were organised, it was better for them to negotiate and lobby as opposed to the current situation, where the trainers did not have a formal association. The other advice was on the role Phumelela was playing.
Ms L Theko (ANC) commented that it seemed as if the Chairperson was giving Mr Bagraim a report, which she considered unfair as he would most likely quote the Chairperson again, based on what he was presenting to him now. Her understanding was that since a report had already been tabled on the oversight visit, recommendations had been presented. If Mr Bagraim had questions, the right procedure would have been to ask Mr America. She suggested if he intended to write a letter to the Chairperson as earlier indicated, it should be addressed to the whole Committee, as it affected every Member, as it had been the Committee that had carried out the visit.
The Chairperson said Mr Bagrain had already explained himself well and there was no need to write the letter anymore, as he believed the issue was closed.
Mr Bagraim acknowledged that there was indeed no need to explain any further, as all had been said. He would be more cautious on the timing when issues were raised.
The Chairperson proceeded with a page by page perusal of the minutes. A few grammatical changes were proposed.
The minutes were duly adopted.
The Chairperson informed the Committee on the issue of horseracing, he had received a call from Phumelela. They were preparing responses for a weekend newspaper which had sent questions. He had advised that they should speak to the Committee secretary if they wanted to seek an audience with the Committee, and if they had issues.
The meeting was adjourned.
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