Establishment and Clustering of NCOP Committees

NCOP Rules of the National Council of Provinces

12 June 2019
Chairperson: Mr N Masondo (ANC; Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

NCOP Rules Committee

The Chairperson of the National council of Provinces chaired the Committee. The Committee Secretary presented a document on the Establishment and Clustering of Committees.

The Chairperson noted the composition of the Rules Committee and added that Rule 116(2) stated that a political party in the National Council of Provinces not represented on the Committee may designate a Council Member to attend and that Member may speak but that Council Member might not vote. In terms of that rule, the EFF, FF+ and IFP each had a non-voting representative on the Rules Committee. The DA was concerned that it did not have such a representative, but the Deputy Chairperson explained that the DA had a voting representative in the whip for the Western Cape. The DA also expressed concern that there were two EFF Members in the meeting. After extensive discussion, the Chairperson clarified the matter by pointing to Rule 108 which allows any Council Member to attend and to speak, but not vote, at any Committee or Subcommittee meeting.

It was proposed that government departments would be clustered into 11 Select Committees.  The National Council of Provinces would also sit on six Joint Committees with Members of the National Assembly.

The Chief Whip informed the Committee that he was engaging with parties in terms of representation on the Committees. The Chairperson reminded everyone to adhere to the rule that women should be fairly represented on Committees.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Rules Committee.

The meeting briefly dealt with the matter of Members who had not received the agenda before unanimously adopting the agenda.

Rules Committee Membership
The Chairperson noted that according to Rule 116, the Rules Committee consisted of the Chairperson of the NCOP, the permanent Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, the Chief Whip of Council, the House Chairperson responsible for Committees and Oversight, the House Chairperson responsible for Members and International Relations, the Programming Whip, and two representatives from each provincial delegation, one of whom must be a permanent delegate.

He noted that the Programming Whip had not yet been appointed and the two House Chairpersons had not yet been elected but would be appointed or elected in due course.

The Chairperson added that in terms of Rule 116(2), a political party represented in the Council that is not represented in the Rules Committee, may designate a Council member to attend, and to speak in the Committee but that Council member may not vote. In terms of Rule 116(2), the parties were the EFF, represented by Ms N Koni; the FF+ represented by Mr A Cloete; the IFP represented by Mr S Mfayela.

The permanent representatives from the provinces nominated as provincial whips would be Members of the Rules Committee. They were as follows: Eastern Cape represented by Ms Z Ncitha; Free State – Ms M Mashodi; Gauteng – Ms W Ngwenya; KwaZulu-Natal – Mr E Mthethwa; Limpopo – Mr M Nchabeleng; Mpumalanga – Ms D Mahlangu; North West - Mr E Landsman; Northern Cape – Mr M Mmoiemang; Western Cape – Ms C Labuschagne.

The Chairperson noted that the names of Members of the Rules Committee and the provinces they represented would be published in the ATC (Parliamentary Announcements, Tabling and Committee Report).

Ms C Labuschagne (DA; Western Cape) noted that in the Rules Committee, there were party whips and representatives from the provinces, but the DA had no representative from the Western Cape. She was the Whip for the DA in the NCOP, so it could not be assumed that she represented the Western Cape. In the previous Parliament, the Committee had had an additional representative who had served as the DA’s representative. Could the Committee apply the same ruling?

The Committee Secretary replied that Rule 116(2), as read by the Chairperson, stated that a political party that was represented in the Council but not in the Rules Committee may designate a person, but that person may not vote in the Rules Committee. In his understanding of the Rules, the DA was not entitled to representation as it represented the Western Cape and therefore had a seat on the Committee.  The other parties were represented because they did not have a provincial whip.

Ms Labuschagne then asked for an explanation as to why the EFF had two representatives in the Committee.

Ms S Lucas (ANC; North West), Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, explained that if one looked at the matter in that light, one could also say that the ANC did not have a whip. She and the Chairperson were there in their positions as Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP while the Chief Whip was there in his position as Chief Whip of the NCOP. It had to be explained more carefully. Members were not in the meeting to represent their parties, but they had been sent, by their parties, to represent the provinces. The whips in the Committee were provincial whips. The EFF, FF+ and IFP did not have provincial whips so they had a voice in the Rules Committee by sending representatives. She believed that the situation was being skewed. The DA was represented in the Committee by virtue of it having a provincial whip for the Western Cape. There was a little bit of a misunderstanding.

Mr A Cloete (FF+; Free State) noted that Ms Labuschagne had a point as there were two EFF Members in the Chamber. He asked for clarification.

Mr S Mohai (ANC; Free State), Chief Whip of the NCOP, stated that the Rule as read out was very clear. The EFF had only one representative. It could be that Ms Mathevula (EFF; Limpopo) was present as the induction workshop would be held in the same venue immediately on completion of the meeting. He confirmed that she was not a Member of the Committee.

Ms Labuschagne referred to the Fifth Parliament in which the DA had a party whip who could sit in on the meetings but could not vote. She asked if the Rules had changed from the Fifth Parliament. As far as she knew, there had been no change to the Rules. George Michalakis had been the DA’s representative who had attended but could not vote. If there was only one EFF party representative, what was the other Member doing there and could she, Ms Labuschagne, bring an observer to the Rules Committee?

Ms Koni explained that Ms Mathevula was a full Member of the NCOP and so she had the right to attend, although she would not vote. She was not doing anything illegal. Ms Labuschagne was incorrect in saying that a Member of Parliament should be removed or excused from the meeting. Members were not dealing with voting.

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC; KwaZulu-Natal) suggested that it was the venue that was the problem. The structure was correct in terms of the Rules that had been read out. Members should not bring the culture of the Fifth Parliament into the Sixth Parliament; otherwise he would have to refer to what he had been doing in the National Assembly. If the issue of the additional Member of the EFF was being challenged, should the Chairperson remove all those in the room who were not Members of the Committee? That would take some time as they did not know who some of the people were. He proposed that the Committee move forward with its business.

Ms Labuschagne said that the Member was correct and that it was the Sixth Parliament but if the Sixth Parliament NCOP Rules Committee started by making exceptions to Rules, then the NCOP was not starting at the right point. She informed the office bearers that if the EFF Member, who was not a Member of the Rules Committee, continued to sit in that Committee, she would bring a representative from the DA to all the meetings.

Ms Labuschagne told Ms Koni, through the Chairperson, that she could not make the rules for one party. Members were there to determine the rules for Parliament and to uphold the rules of Parliament and starting with one party not upholding the rules was not a good way to start.

Ms D Mahlangu (ANC; Mpumalanga) began by asking other Members to accord her the same respect that she had accorded them and to listen to her contribution. She thought that there was an appetite for debating and politicizing and that was not a good start. She took it that the Members were working as a team and not as political parties. She was not in the meeting because of her political party; she was the whip for all representatives from Mpumalanga. Mr Mthethwa had explained that it was the venue for the induction workshop. She noted that a third person (from the EFF) had left the venue while the discussion was underway, but what was wrong with people observing? The Committee had clarified the situation regarding voting and suggested that after Members had read the list that showed who was a Member of the Committee, the meeting should go forward. She asked that people not fight as they had to work together for the next five years.

The Chairperson stated that there had been some discussion, but he was not taking further discussion as the Rules clarified the matter. Section 108 of the NCOP Rules related to the Presence of other Council members: “A Council member who is not a member of a committee or subcommittee –   (a) may be present at a meeting of the committee or subcommittee; and   (b) may speak on a matter before the committee or subcommittee subject to any reasonable restrictions the committee chairperson may impose, but may not vote except when the vote is cast as an alternate.”  That settled the issue.

The Secretary added that Rule 108 had to be read in conjunction with Rule 116 because notices and documents would only be distributed to those who were legitimate Members. Members who were not nominated Members would not receive the notices or documentation.

Establishment and Clustering of Structures
The Chairperson noted that in terms of NCOP Rule 86(2): “before any Council committee or other Council structure is established, the proposal must first be referred to the Rules Committee for a report and recommendation.”
He added that the provincial Whips’ Forum of the NCOP wished to make a proposal and he invited the Chief Whip, Mr Mohai, to make the proposal.

Mr Mohai confirmed that discussions had taken place in the Whips’ Forum the previous day and there had been an agreement on the proposed Committees and clusters. He mentioned that there was an urgent matter to be considered which was the amendment and updating of the Rules. The Rules allowed the Committee to set up Subcommittees to address those matters, which should be done at a future meeting. He requested the Secretary to present the proposal.

The Committee Secretary presented the following proposed Select Committees (SC):
- SC on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture
- SC on Health and Social Services
- SC on Transport, Public Service and Infrastructure, and Communications (Communications later moved)
- SC on Trade, Small Business Development and Tourism, Employment and Labour
- SC on Security and Justice
- SC on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Water and Sanitation, and Human Settlements
- SC on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy
- SC on Communications and Public Enterprises
- SC on Finance
- SC on Appropriations
-SC Committee on Petitions
The document, ‘Proposed NCOP Committees – 6th Parliament’, also noted the clustering of Government Departments.

The Secretary noted that there were also six Joint Committees:
- Constitutional Review Committee
- Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence
- Joint Standing Committee on Defence
- Committee on Multi-Party Women’s Caucus
- Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
- Joint Standing Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests

The Chairperson called for comments on the proposals.

Ms Labuschagne asked for clarity. The previous day, she had specifically asked where Public Service and Administration and Communications fitted in and had been told that they stayed with Public Enterprises. In the document presented to the Committee, Public Service and Administration and Communications was with Public Works and Infrastructure. She needed to know why it had been changed between the meeting the previous day and that morning’s meeting.  She also noted that Transport, Public Service and Infrastructure, Public Service Administration was a cluster that did not fit in with the rest of the clusters, so it would be difficult to get hold of the Ministers. There were so many entities in the Transport Committee that she did not see why Communications had been included there. Why did Communications not remain with Public Enterprises?

Mr Mohai agreed that a decision had been taken the previous that the Public Enterprise Committee would consist of Public Enterprises and Communications. That comment was in order.

Ms Labuschagne asked about the inclusion of Public Service and Administration in the Transport cluster.

Mr Mohai replied that there had been discussions, but it had been agreed to keep Public Service and Administration in the Transport Committee. He noted that the Committee on Labour, etc. was also a new Committee.

The Chairperson called for proposals for adoption of the proposed establishment and clustering of structures.

Mr Mthethwa proposed the adoption of the proposed establishment and clustering of structures.

Mr E Landsman (ANC; North West) seconded the proposal.

Ms Mahlangu stated that she would like to second the motion because there had to be a woman in the picture.

The proposal on the establishment and clustering of structures was approved unanimously. There were no objections.

The Chairperson noted that Members were allocated to Committees as per Rule 91 and reminded Members that delegations should be done bearing Rule 86(4) in mind: “When committee members are appointed, the need for women to be fairly represented on committees must be taken into account.  if women are not fairly represented on Council committees, the Chairperson and the delegation heads must consider methods of achieving fair representation.”

Ms Labuschagne informed the Chairperson that she had given proposals about the delegation of Members to the Committees but not received feedback until she had walked into the room. Was the Committee expected to simply agree to the names of Committee Members?

Mr Mohai said that the Committee membership would not be discussed in the meeting. The lists were part of his ongoing consultations with parties. He wanted parties to consider the lists and he would discuss Committee membership outside of the meeting.

The Chairperson reminded parties to ensure women were represented in the Committees.

Concluding remarks
The Chairperson noted that all business had been attended to and adjourned the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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