The Committee met to elect its Chairperson. Mr S Luzipo (ANC) was elected unopposed. He made a brief speech calling on everyone to work together in the Committee and called on the Committee staff to perform their duties diligently as the Committee was facing a huge challenge in respect of minerals, mining, energy and energy-related industries.
A programme of urgent meetings for the week was presented to the Members as the National Assembly would be debating the Budget Votes of the previous Department of Minerals Resources and the Department of Energy separately the following week.
Election of Chairperson
The Committee Secretary welcomed everyone to the meeting. She advised the purpose of the meeting was to elect the Chairperson of the Committee in terms of National Assembly Rule 158. She requested all Members and support staff to introduce themselves.
The Secretary called for nominations for the Chairperson.
Mr M Mahlaule (ANC) nominated Mr S Luzipo (ANC) for the position of Chairperson. Mr J Bilankulu (ANC) seconded the nomination.
The Secretary noted that Mr Luzipo had been nominated and asked if he accepted the nomination.
Mr Luzipo accepted the nomination.
The Secretary called for further nominations. In the absence of further nominations, she declared Mr Luzipho duly elected.
Comments by the newly elected Chairperson
The Chairperson extended his gratitude to the Secretary. He stated that his constituency was in KwaZulu-Natal and that he was a returning Member of Parliament.
He understood there was always tension in the first meeting of a Committee but he extended a word of appreciation to Members of the Committee as a whole. The Committee had a task, a duty, a responsibility that it could not abdicate to anyone else. The Committee would represent Parliament in relation to the challenge of the two or three industries, namely, minerals or mining, gas and petroleum, as well as other energy-related industries.
It was his duty as Chairperson to make it a point that each and every Member should feel that he or she belonged to the Committee. Members should feel free. If they could not speak to him, then they could not speak to any individual. He was not someone who liked to restrict views. Everyone had views and Committee Members should not simply ask a question but ask a question and then tell the Committee what he or she thought should happen. He was not a psychologist but he believed that everyone should have an idea of what should happen. In any meeting, there were views and opinions and Members should feel free to express their views. The Committee was small, not like the National Assembly with its 400 Members. He was looking forward to tapping into the wisdom of each one of the Members. There was a reason why, out of the 56 or 58 million South Africans, they had the privilege of being in Parliament. The Committee also had the privilege of being given such a very serious industry and he hoped that Members would understand the challenges ahead.
The Chairperson noted that, from the outset, the Committee did not have time and would have to hit the ground running. The media houses would tell Members the amount and extent of the challenges. The two Departments were so huge and would require not double or triple effort, but quadruple effort, because Mineral Resources on its own was a cumbersome task. Energy on its own was not just cumbersome, but volatile.
He hoped the Committee would understand that, whilst none of the Members were there by choice but as a result of the choices of the political parties, when they were in the Committee, Members had a duty to do what was best for the country and therefore, as much as he would like to say that Members should not politic, his plea was that Members would use their politicking to find solutions for the challenges facing them. The Committee did not have time. Time was of great essence.
To the Committee staff, the Chairperson stated that he had been in the Department of Mineral Resources so he could state that no one in the Committee responsible for Mineral Resources would feel like orphans. It was a single Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy. Everyone had to put their hands on deck. He was not a slave driver but he did not believe in laxity. If everyone was prepared to do the work, they would all be good friends. However, if staff were not prepared to do the work, regrettably, they would be enemies. He always said that no one should make people choose between the country and oneself. The choice was then easy. If he had to choose between the work of the Committee and an individual, his choice would be the work of the Committee. Any individual given a position of responsibility had to be sure the responsibility did not fail in one’s hands. He was not prepared to be responsible for the collapse of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy because there had been no performance on the administrative level. He urged the staff to make it a point that they worked with the Committee.
The Chairperson appealed to the two Departments not to make the work of the Committee difficult. The turnaround time of the Departments was quite problematic but there would not be time for the luxury of delays. When a deadline was agreed upon, it had to be met or the Committee would have to find ways to manage it. If there was no consequence management, the Committee would continue to lament. In his short stay in the Portfolio Committee, he had learnt a few things about getting things done.
The Chairperson addressed the media. He had learnt there were times when the media got so perturbed when it did not get the answers that it wanted or did not get the information it wanted, but that would be because the information the Committee was giving the media was what it should be giving the media. The Chairperson acknowledged he would never win a battle with the media and so he would not cross swords with the media. He requested that people respected the Committee and did not take documents before they had been handed to Members who were the ones who would be discussing the information on the documents.
Lastly, the Chairperson said that the ANC had 230 Members and it had identified people who would preside over the Committees and he was one of the people identified to be a Chairperson. He extended his appreciation to the ANC for that. He also extended his appreciation to all South Africans for ensuring the election process had been a smooth one.
In other areas there was a political overview but the agenda before him did not contain an item for responses to his remarks or for a political overview. He said the Committee had to be prepared to work like an octopus as the Committee had to complete the tasks given to it.
The Chairperson asked the Secretary to indicate the way forward, in respect of urgent matters, and he would come back with more details later.
The Committee Secretary stated that she had circulated the programme. The immediate meetings were as follows:
- Tuesday, 2 July 2019, 14:00 – presentation by the Committee Researcher which would contain an analysis of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget
- Wednesday, 3 July 2019 – presentation by the Department of Mineral Resources from 09:00 to 13:00 on the APP and budget and a presentation by the Department of Energy from 14:00 to 17:00, also on the APP and budget
- On Friday, 5 July 2019, 09:00 – 13:00 - the Committee would meet to adopt its Budget Vote Report
- The House debate on Mineral Resources would take place on 10 July 2019 and the debate on Energy would take place on 11 July 2019
The Chairperson put the programme to the Committee.
Mr V Zungula (ATM) congratulated the Chairperson on his election. He accepted the limited programme and was comfortable with getting the full programme for the term at a later date after the Budget Vote. Taking his cue from another Committee that he was sitting on, he wished to propose that the Committee also called for a political overview from the respective Ministers so that Members could be in a position to understand the work done by the respective Departments.
The Chairperson noted that he had a proposal for the adoption of the programme for the budget process, but with a rider. He informed Members that there was only one Minister for both Mineral Resources and Energy.
Ms C Phillips (DA) seconded the proposal for the adoption of the programme.
The Chairperson consulted the Secretary and then informed Mr Zungula that the Minister was part of the Department as a whole and the Committee did not view him as separate from the Department. What the Committee expected was that, on the day the Department reported, the Minister would be at the meeting to give his Executive remarks. The Department reported to the Minister and the Minister reported to the Committee. The Chairperson expected the Minister to be at the meeting the following day. He would make remarks as the Executive. If no one from the Executive was at the meeting, the Committee would deal with it at that stage but, usually, either the Minister attended or the Minister sent an apology and sent the Deputy Minister in his stead.
The Chairperson stated that the presentation by the Committee Researcher would make it clear to the Committee what it should be expecting from the Department and the Executive. The researchers would state the position exactly as it stood and not present it so that all seemed nice, as the Minister and Department might do. Hopefully, the Director-General would also give a clear account of what had to be done. The Chairperson noted the reports by the Department had been split because they had been separate Departments. The report was usually very thick but on Friday, the Committee would, at least, look at the observations and the recommendations in the Committee’s Budget Vote Report to Parliament. There would still be an opportunity to engage when the budget was presented.
The meeting was adjourned.
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