NA portfolio & standing committees composition; Questions to President, Deputy President & Ministers guidelines; NA Whips; Subcommittee on Review of NA Rules
Rules of the National Assembly
05 June 2019
Chairperson: Ms T Modise (ANC)
The Speaker of the National Assembly chaired the meeting.
The Committee Secretary presented a document on the Establishment of Structures of the Sixth Parliament which formed the basis of discussion and decisions taken in the meeting.
In respect of the sequence for questions, the Administration proposed a continuation of the principle of proportional strength but included the principle of giving parties with 10 seats or more a full opportunity to participate in question sessions. The Committee agreed that a sequence of 17 opportunities would be followed, with the smaller parties grouped into three groups of three parties to share opportunities to ask questions. The Committee agreed to the ACDP’s request that the grouping of the smaller parties be addressed so that each group contained six Members of Parliament instead of three parties per group.
It was agreed to cluster government portfolios into five clusters as had been done in the Fifth Parliament.
The Committee agreed that, to give all parties an opportunity to put a motion without notice, the number of motions without notice be increased to 23. Some discussion took place around the time available for each party to speak. The Administration agreed to go away and crunch the numbers and come back with a proposal. However, it was agreed that no party would get less than three minutes to speak. The EFF asked that Ministers be treated as ANC speakers using ANC time during debates. The Chairperson agreed to consider the matter.
The Committee agreed to a formula of one whip to every 6.5 Members. The eight smallest parties of one or two Members would share two whips.
The composition of the Subcommittee on the Review of the National Assembly Rules would remain at eight Members with representatives from all parties with ten or more Members and one Member to represent all smaller parties. The ANC would nominate a Chairperson within 48 hours.
The composition of the Programme Committee was prescribed in the Rules and would include Members from all parties, with two Members from the five largest parties as well as the Chief Whip of the Opposition. Portfolio Committees would be composed of 11 Members, as in the Fifth Parliament.
The Speaker, acting in concurrence with the Rules Committee, had to determine the range of Committees in Parliament and assign a government portfolio to each Committee and determine a name for each Committee. The Committee agreed to the establishment of 29 Portfolio Committees, including the Standing Committees on Finance and Appropriations, and seven Committees that were required in terms of the Rules or legislation, such as the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, etc.
The workload of Committees was discussed. The Chairperson indicated that the Administration was not satisfied with Committees that met only once a week. Committees could meet every day of the week if necessary and programmed in advance. She also indicated that there would be comprehensive training for Members as there were so many new Members. The Administration would also address the support given to Committees to deal with the workload. The Committee discussed the need to either form a Committee for the oversight of Vote 1, the Presidency, or to include such oversight in the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Committee. A decision was deferred to the next meeting. There were concerns that Members had called for a smaller Cabinet but were demanding more and larger Committees.
The designation of Members to various bodies, including international parliamentary bodies, was deferred until the Secretary had determined which Committees were governed by the Constitution in respect of representatives.
The Chairperson welcomed returning Members returning as well as newcomers. She noted that there had been a slight delay in starting the meeting owing to the fact that the Chief Whip’s meeting had run late. While she understood that the Chief Whips had not concluded their business, she requested that they not delay the Committee’s business in future.
The agenda was accepted by all Members, without comment.
Presentation on the Establishment of Structures of the Sixth Parliament
The Committee Secretary referred to the document on the Establishment of Structures of the Sixth Parliament and read the introduction relating to the role of the Rules Committee.
Sequence for Questions
The document referred to the sequence of party rotation in terms of Rule 137(9) and what had pertained in the Fifth Parliament. The document listed several possibilities but the Secretary noted that there were so many parties that strict application of the rules would mean that some parties would never get an opportunity to pose questions or make statements. He proposed that in order to continue with the principle of proportional strength, as well as giving parties with 10 seats or more a full opportunity to participate in question sessions, that a sequence of 17 opportunities be followed, with the smaller parties grouped into three groups of three parties to share opportunities to ask questions.(Page 2 – 3 of the document).
Mr J Steenhuisen (DA) formally congratulated the Speaker on her appointment and noted that the Committee had to approve the option proposed in the document as the Constitution was clear in section 57(2)(b) that Parliament had to provide an opportunity for smaller parties to participate.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) also congratulated the Speaker. He asked the Committee to look at the number of Members in each of the parties included in each grouping of smaller parties. The proposed Group 1 had a total of eight Members of Parliament, whereas Groups 2 had six Members and Group 3 had four Members. He asked the Chairperson to consider whether it was equitable in terms of the numbers of Members representing the smaller parties. He suggested that if the first group contained only the ACDP and the UDM and that ATM dropped to Group 3, it would mean that each Group had six Members of Parliament. He believed that that would be more equitable.
Mr N Singh (IFP) supported Mr Swart’s proposal regarding the re-grouping of the smaller parties. In the previous Parliament, he had noted that some parties had a turn only every five or six weeks. The re-grouping made good sense to him.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) congratulated the Speaker. She stated that the ANC supported the sequence of seven opportunities for the ANC.
The Chairperson asked if Ms Dlakude was suggesting that the Committee not consider the regrouping as proposed by Mr Swart and seconded by Mr Singh.
Ms Dlakude responded that the ANC was not against looking at the proposal.
The Chairperson stated that the proposal would be considered, and a decision taken in the following meeting.
The Committee concurred.
Dr M Ndlozi (EFF) asked for confirmation of the proposal, i.e. that the ATM be moved to Group 2.
Dr C Mulder (FF+) explained that the ATM would drop to Group 3 and then each group would contain six Members of Parliament.
Mr Shivambu proposed the decision be taken immediately to adopt six, six, six per Group.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee agreed.
The Committee agreed that the three groups be re-organised according to the number of Members of Parliament, i.e. six Members of Parliament per group.
Clustering of Government Portfolios
The Secretary proposed the clustering of government portfolios into five clusters as was done in the Fifth Parliament. He noted that there would be fewer government portfolios than in the Fifth Parliament which would provide more opportunity for questioning. The clusters were: Cluster 1: Peace and Security; Cluster 2: Social Services; Cluster 3: Governance; Cluster 4: Economics; Cluster 5: Economics. There were two economic clusters as so many portfolios dealt with economic matters. The clusters were listed on pages 3 to 4 of the document.
Mr Singh asked if the clustering had been discussed with Cabinet and whether Cabinet was aware of the proposed clustering as he believed that there should be some meeting of Parliament and Cabinet on the matter.
The Chairperson responded that Parliament had not consulted Cabinet.
Dr Ndlozi stated that the question was wrong, and Parliament should not consult Cabinet. There had to be a separation of powers. Whatever way Cabinet was forming clusters did not concern Parliament, but Parliament had decided how it was going to hold the government portfolios accountable. He proposed adoption of the proposed five clusters.
The Committee agreed to adopt the proposal that government portfolios be organised into five clusters as proposed in the document on the Establishment of Structures.
Guidelines regarding Members’ Statements
The Secretary noted that the number of parties had increased from 13 to 14 and therefore proposed that 17 opportunities to make statements be allowed, one more than in the Fifth Parliament. The sequence would mean that opportunities be accorded as follows: ANC – 7; DA – 3, EFF -2; IFP – 1; FF+ - 1; all other parties to be grouped into three groups with one opportunity per group.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee agreed.
Members agreed to provide 17 opportunities for statements in the sequence as proposed in the document on the Establishment of Structures.
Guidelines regarding Notices of Motion
The Secretary stated that the principle was to give all parties an opportunity to put a motion without notice and to do that, the number of motions without notice be increased to 23. Each motion was not to exceed one and a half minutes. The number of opportunities would be ANC -7; DA – 3; EFF - 2 and all other parties one opportunity each. The slots were not transferable.
The Secretary noted that the number of notices of motion on any sitting day, and the period of time within which such motions should be concluded, was a matter to be decided upon by the Programme Committee, and added that the same principle would be proposed to that Committee.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee agreed with the move from 22 to 23 motions without notice be allowed as indicated in the document on the Establishment of Structures.
The Committee agreed that 23 motions without notice be allowed.
Dr Ndlozi requested a discussion about time allocation for debates as that point was missing from the document. There had to be a discussion about how long debates would be, etc., but the EFF insisted that it should be given 11% of the time available for debates.
The Chairperson stated that that the Rules Committee wanted to establish routine. Other matters should be taken to the Programme Committee because it might be dependent on the amount of time allocated for debate. She stated that the principle being proposed by the EFF in respect of the percentage of time to be allocated to each party was acceptable. Could the Committee agree to take it to the Programme Committee where they could bear that principle in mind?
The Chairperson added that it was necessary that smaller parties also had an opportunity to speak.
Mr Shivambu reminded the Chairperson that, in the Fifth Parliament, the EFF with 25 Members had had only one minute more than much smaller parties. For example, the EFF had been allocated four minutes but Themba Godi from the ACP, which had had only one Member in Parliament, had been allocated three minutes. That was not acceptable.
Ms Dlakude understood that Parliament was a multiparty Parliament and was aware that some parties had been given only one minute to speak. The ANC wanted each party to have at least three minutes which would allow all parties to express themselves. The ANC pleaded with all parties to allow all other parties to participate. She added that the ANC heard the point made by the EFF. The discussion could take place outside of the Committee meeting.
Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) agreed in principle with the EFF. As the Committee was discussing legacy issues, he reminded the Committee that towards the end of the Fifth Parliament, it had been agreed that the minimum speaking time would be changed to four minutes. That had been discussed but not concretised. However, it did mean that the EFF could not be on four minutes with its larger number of Members.
The Chairperson asked that it be noted that a decision had to be recorded in black and white as Parliament could not rely on people’s memories about what had been decided. In summary, she noted that it had been agreed that all parties, irrespective of size, would have a voice in the National Assembly (NA). It was agreed that that voice should be given reasonable time, and that, as per the recommendation by EFF, Parliament should re-look at the formula because the formula should not be cast in stone when it came to critical issues of national importance being discussed in the House. The principle would apply, but she accepted that EFF and the FF+ had grown and the issue would have to be looked at again. The administration would go away and crunch the numbers and come back with a proposal. However, no party would get less than three minutes.
Dr Mulder suggested extending the time for debates as it was a balancing act. The administration could perhaps consider extending the debating time which would create more possibilities for everyone.
The Chairperson agreed but noted that it would depend on what was being debated. In some debates, one minute might be sufficient but in others, parties might wish to use all the time allocated to them.
Dr Ndlozi agreed that the matter should be discussed in the Programme Committee meeting but asked that Ministers be treated as ANC speakers using ANC time. It had to be considered because it Ministers repeated each other. It had to be remembered that Ministers were, in fact, Members of Parliament.
The Chairperson agreed in principle and requested that the meeting move on with the agenda items.
Formula for the Appointment of Whips
The Secretary stated that three options had been indicated in the document on the Establishment of Structures. The Fifth Parliament had begun with a whip for every seven Members, but that formula had been adjusted to one whip for every 6.5 Members. The number of whips per party would be: ANC - 35; DA - 13; EFF – 7; IFP – 2; FF+ – 2; ACDP – 1. The principle had been to put together the numbers for smaller parties and that worked out to two whips for the smaller parties. He reminded Members that more whips had greater cost implications.
The Chairperson asked for the views of Members.
Ms Dlakude stated that the ANC supported the formula of one whip per 6.5 Members.
The Chairperson noted that the DA supported the proposal.
Mr Kwankwa supported the proposal on behalf of the UDM. He noted that, in the Fifth Parliament, Ms Dudley (ACDP) had been made the whip of the smallest parties because the ACDP was the largest of the small parties. That naturally meant that as the ACDP was no longer grouped with the smaller parties, one of the whips for the smaller parties would go to the UDM, which was one of the bigger parties in the grouping.
Dr Mulder supported the proposal of the ANC Deputy Chief Whip that the 6.5 ratio be accepted.
The Chairperson asked whether the Committee agreed.
There was general agreement that the ratio of one whip to 6.5 Members be accepted, but Dr Ndlozi said that the EFF did not agree as every party should have one whip.
Establishment of House Committees
Composition of the Subcommittee on Review of the National Assembly Rules and appointment of chairperson
The Secretary noted that the Rules Committee appointed one of its Members as the Chairperson of the Subcommittee. As the Subcommittee was mainly technical and made recommendations and not decisions, the administration recommended that there be eight persons on the subcommittee: representatives from all parties with ten or more Members and one Member to represent all smaller parties.
The Chairperson received general agreement from Committee Members on the composition of the Subcommittee. She asked the ANC who would chair the Committee but there was no response. She indicated that unless the ANC proposed someone, she would, herself, decide who would chair the Committee.
The ANC requested time to decide on a name for the Chairperson.
The Chairperson gave the ANC 48 hours to provide a name for the Chairperson, failing which, she would make the decision.
Composition of Programme Committee
The Secretary noted that the composition of the Programme Committee was prescribed in the Rules and listed on page 4 in the document on the Establishment of Structures. The proposal by the Administration was that the number of Members should be as follows: ANC – 2; Chief Whip of the Opposition; DA – 2; EFF – 2; IFP – 2; FF+ - 2; other parties in the NA – 1 per party. Each party would have representative on the Committee. He also noted that the Committee took decisions by consensus. A deadlock mechanism was provided for in the event that the Committee could not reach a decision.
The Chairperson asked if there was agreement by Members.
The Committee agreed to the proposed composition of the Programme Committee.
The Secretary requested names of representatives from parties by the following day because there was a Programme Committee meeting at 8:30.
The Chairperson agreed with Members that the meeting should commence at 9:00 the following day.
Establishment of Structures
Establishment of Portfolio Committees
The Secretary proposed two options for the composition of the Committees. The composition could remain with 11 Members as in the Fifth Parliament: ANC – 6; DA – 2; EFF – 1; other parties – 2. Alternatively, the Committee could decide to increase the number to 13 Members. He noted that anyone could sit in a Committee and that parties could appoint alternate Members. The number of Members per Committee should apply to all Portfolio Committees, as well as Standing Committees and the Powers and Privileges Committee.
The Chairperson asked for proposals on the composition of Committees.
Ms P Majodina (ANC) proposed Option 1, which was the same number of Members as in the Fifth Parliament.
Mr Steenhuisen supported Option 1 but requested that Alternate Members be included on the distribution list for documentation, including minutes, to Committee Members.
Mr Singh noted that it would be difficult for all parties to be accommodated where there was only space for two Members from the smaller parties and suggested that certain Committees that dealt with issues of national importance should have representation from all parties. An example of the situation occurred in the Fifth Parliament in respect of the land issue. There might be such issues in the Sixth Parliament and a decision could be taken at the time to include all parties. It was a decision that had been taken in principle in the Fifth Parliament and he suggested that the same in-principle decision be taken by the Sixth Parliament.
Dr Mulder stated that it would take time for the 11 smaller parties to determine on which Committees the 42 Members involved would serve, but he committed to resolving the matter as soon as possible.
Mr Kwankwa agreed with the point made by Mr Singh that an in-principle decision had to be taken to include Members from all parties where a matter of national importance was involved, in order to give credence to a multi-party South Africa.
The Chairperson explained that it had been agreed that all Members could sit in all Committees and participate. The only difference was when it came to the matter of a vote where only Members or their Alternates could exercise the right to vote. All business of Parliament was open to all Members. She noted that there was also agreement that, depending on the nature of business before Members, including in debates, Parliament might relook at how space and time might be re-allocated. She asked for approval of the principle.
The Committee agreed to the composition of Committees and the principle that all Members could sit in all Committees.
Establishment of Committees (Annexure 1(A))
The Secretary stated that in terms of Rule 225, the Speaker, acting in concurrence with the Rules Committee, had to determine the range of Committees, assign a government portfolio to each Committee and determine a name for each Committee. Certain Standing Committees had to be established in terms of the Rules, or legislation. Joint Committees would be dealt with in the Joint Rules Committee. The Administration proposed the establishment of 29 Portfolio Committees, including the Standing Committee on Appropriations. The Committees were listed in Annexure 1(A).
The Chairperson asked Members for comment.
Mr Singh noted that Members wished to include an additional Committee. It was an outstanding matter from the Rules Committee in the Fifth Parliament where the then Speaker ruled that parties had to decide on the matter. The Constitution and the ruling by Justice Mogoeng stated that Parliament had to conduct oversight over all Votes. Oversight of Vote 1, funding for the Presidency, had always been missing from the Parliamentary Committees. Noting that all provinces had a Committee conducting oversight on Vote 1, the Premier, he suggested that Parliament needed to conduct oversight of the spending in the Presidency.
The Chairperson asked for responses to the proposal by Mr Singh.
Mr Steenhuisen responded that the DA had always been in support of a Committee to maintain oversight of Vote 1 spending but there had been a discussion in the Chief Whip’s forum and there had been a decision that parties should enter into discussion on the matter. He believed that it should be done as there was both a need for such oversight and it was a constitutional imperative.
Mr Steenhuisen added that a matter of concern about the list of Committees was that, because of the workload of Justice, matters relating to Correctional Services had been squeezed out completely in the Fifth Parliament and it had led to a situation of complete imbalance to the extent that those matters relating to Correctional Services had not been discussed in meetings. If the Rules Committee was not separating that Committee, then when the House Chair was elected, it had to be made very clear to Committee Chairs that equal attention had to be paid to both sides and one side did not suffer because of the workload of the other. He believed that Parliament had dropped the ball on Correctional Services in the Fifth Parliament.
The Chairperson noted the second point made by Mr Steenhuisen.
Ms Dlakude agreed that the matter of oversight over Vote 1 had been discussed in the Chief Whip’s forum and requested that the matter be discussed outside the Committee. The ANC understood the need for oversight over Vote 1 and was not saying that it could or could not be done, but there had to be discussions about how to deal with it.
The Chairperson noted that parties needed time to caucus on the matter.
Mr Swart supported the need for a Committee to have oversight of Vote 1, especially in the light of the scathing judgement by the Chief Justice on Parliament’s lack of oversight over the Presidency and he was pleased that it was being considered. On the issue of the Justice Committee, he agreed that the workload was too great for one Committee and the Committee had suffered, especially in finding time for adequate oversight. He had served on the Justice Committee since 1999 and the workload made it almost impossible to deal with both Justice and Correctional Services. He had called for a splitting of the Committee, but his call had not been heeded. The Committee had suffered in respect of oversight and he asked for consideration of the matter.
The Chairperson agreed to relook at the matter. Members on the Justice Committee sometimes had to spend a week on other judicial fora and so there might be a need to relook at the composition of the Committee. She suggested the Chief Whips of the ANC and the DA had a relook at the numbers. In 1994, Defence had had one of the biggest Standing Committees because it had had a lot of work and the Committee had been able to split the work.
Mr R Dyantyi (ANC) noted that Justice was not the only Committee that might suffer an overload in the Sixth Parliament. There were four Committees facing a similar problem. Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation, which was a service delivery portfolio, might be even bigger than Justice. The best point might be that Chairs had to be very considerate in such a Portfolio Committee.
Ms Dlakude added that the Joint SC on Intelligence had to be re-looked at because it suffered a lot when the NCOP was outside Parliament. Some Members who served on the Intelligence Committee were Chairpersons of Committees and Whips and that caused the Committee to suffer a lot.
Mr Shivambu agreed that the matter should be discussed outside of the Committee, but it was not necessary to bloat Committees and to split them. It was not necessary. Instead of working only two days a week, Committees had to work three or four days a week. Even Vote 1 did not need a separate Committee: it should be part of the Committee on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. No substantial implementable issues were dealt with in that Committee and so it could deal with Vote 1. He believed that those issues were just grandstanding and should be dealt with in the next Committee meeting.
The Chairperson agreed that the matter would be dealt with at next meeting. She noted that there would be focused training for some Committees. There were many, many new people who were becoming public representatives for the first time and the Administration would have to give some grounding on issues, including tactics as to how one split the work in a Committee because if the focus was not split at the beginning of the term, work would fall between the cracks. It was also about a need to look at what support was being given to Committees.
The Chairperson stated that she did not know what had happened to Committees over the years. As long as a Portfolio Committee had worked out its programme, nothing said that it could not sit every day of the week. The business of sitting only once a week had to be kicked out. There was a need to look at that again, including how to support Committees and to enable them to do their work. Even the Administration had to look at what mitigated against a Committee doing its work. She would come back to the Committee on the matter and present the findings, as well as its recommendations, so that Parliament could push itself to do what Parliament was there to do.
Dr Ndlozi said that people could not demand a smaller Cabinet, and then demand more Committees in Parliament. It was a case of proper hypocrisy and grandstanding. The EFF was not even happy with Cabinet. It had to go further down, ultimately to 23 portfolios. The debate had to be cemented by reminding Members what they had told South Africans about a reduced Cabinet. They could not then ask for more and bigger Committees. That would not work.
Mr Steenhuisen said that, maybe with his Matric, he could give Dr Ndlozi a lesson in the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislative body. Parliament had a completely different role to play and that was oversight of the Executive and all organs of state. He had made the point that in the previous Parliament, some organs of state had got away without any oversight. He had not necessarily said that there was a need for separate Committees. He had asked that Committee Chairpersons be made accountable so that they did not let some organs of state off the hook.
The Chairperson stated that everyone was right, and she was not going to re-open the debate on the matter. Everyone was looking at the issue from a different perspective and when all of the points were put together, it meant that Parliament really had to look at how it was doing business and make sure that Parliament carried out its business to the best of its ability. She asked for consensus to move on with the agenda as the matter would be addressed in the following meeting.
The Committee agreed.
The Secretary noted that the proposal on the establishment of Committees had been adopted and would be ATC’d (included in Parliament’s Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports).
Designation of Members to Various Bodies
The Secretary mentioned, for purposes of information, that the National Assembly had representation on a number of bodies. The bodies were listed on pages 10 and 11 of the document on the Establishment of Structures. The NA would have to appoint Members to serve on the bodies.
Mr Shivambu asked what the point was of simply informing Members. He wanted to know if Parliament was going to adopt the same principle for appointing Members to those bodies as used in the Fifth Parliament so that Members could leave the meeting knowing that the same formula as used in the Fifth Parliament would apply. In principle, the EFF should have at least one representative on all the bodies mentioned, except Parmed and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It was the EFF’s principled position because it was the third biggest party in Parliament. Members had to go to their mandating platforms to determine which Members should be allocated to which Committees and bodies. He thought that the ANC would agree that it would not want to go back to its mandating platform once Parliament had commenced.
The Chairperson understood him to be saying that the Committee should either stick to the decisions of the Fifth Parliament regarding composition of representatives on the bodies, or re-look at the position.
Dr Mulder noted that the Constitution determined how many Members, and from which parties, would get representation on certain bodies. It was therefore not just a matter of formula that the Committee could decide upon.
The Chairperson, noting that the Secretary did not have that information to hand, asked for agreement that the matter would be attended to and that, by the following day, the details would be distributed. She noted that the SA component at the Pan-African Parliament had been removed from the SADC Parliamentary Forum because of its composition. Parties would be informed by the following day so that they could start making recommendations for Members to serve on all the bodies.
The Committee agreed that the matter would be decided by the following day
The Chairperson asked if the ANC had decided on a Subcommittee Chairperson.
The ANC indicated that it would inform the Chairperson as agreed.
The Chairperson noted that all business had been attended to and she thanked everyone for their attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
Modise, Ms T
August, Mr SN
Bongo, Adv BT
Boroto, Ms MG
Dikgale, Ms MC
Dlakude, Ms DE
Dyantyi, Mr QR
Frolick, Mr CT
Julius, Mr J
Koni, Ms NP
Koornhof, Dr GW
Kwankwa, Mr NL
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Majodina, Ms PC
Mashabela, Ms N
Mazzone, Ms NW
Mente, Ms NV
Mkhaliphi, Ms HO
Mokwele, Ms T
Mulder, Dr CP
Ndlozi, Dr MQ
Nyhontso, Mr M
Shivambu, Mr F
Sibisi, Mr CHM
Singh, Mr N
Steenhuisen, Mr JH
Zungula, Mr V
van der Merwe, Ms LL
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