Documents handed out: Provincial Treasury on process leading to shortlisting of candidates to fill vacancies on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board [not available to the public]
The Committee was briefed by the Provincial Treasury (PT) on the process leading to the shortlisting of candidates to fill the vacancies on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board, and then considered the probity report involving the personal details of applicants behind closed doors. It also spent time discussing the Western Cape’s water plans to avert future drought challenges.
The Provincial Treasury referred to the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act to outline the process that needed to be followed in order to appoint board members, explaining the regulations concerning the composition of the board, and the criteria for appointment or disqualification. The Committee was told that the Act provided very little guidance for shortlisting, but section 3(2) indicated that members of the board should be eligible if they had appropriate knowledge or experience, provided that appointments should be made with gender sensitivity. These factors had been taken into account by the Treasury.
In the discussion, various concerns and questions were raised. For example, while the legislation prescribed minimum criteria when considering the most suitable candidates, one should also be considering other factors. Members wanted to know the meaning of “gender sensitivity” in real terms, and how it was measured, given that it was a very broad and ambiguous statement. They also queried the actual involvement of the Committee in the appointment process, as there was not much clarity in the regulations as to its role and responsibility. In addition, where did the shortlist of 13 candidates come from?
The resolution to interview the candidates was agreed to. It was decided that before the interview date, the Provincial Treasury should provide the Committee with the complete files of the candidates, and that it should provide the administration with the contact details of the candidates as soon as possible so that the procedural officer could move forward with the planning of the interviews.
The Committee received a proposal from a Member to consider the drought plan of the Western Cape, environmental matters and public participation relating to the drought, and the City of Cape Town’s desalination plant at the V & A Waterfront. It was agreed to invite the provincial Departments of Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism and Local Government to a joint meeting to discuss the drought plan of the province, and that the City of Cape Town could also be invited to present on their water measures. After consultation regarding procedural and legal mandates, a suitable date for such a meeting would be sought.
Opening remarks by Chairperson
The Chairperson said the Committee would be dealing with a briefing by the service providers on the outcomes of the probity report, as well as the process leading up to the shortlisting of the candidates to fill the vacancies on the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Board. Once the Committee came to the probity report -- whether it was done separately or together -- the Department could indicate this to the Chairperson, and then the Committee would be requested to close the meeting. The probity report contained the personal details of persons involved in the process.
Provincial Treasury briefing: Shortlisting of candidates for Gambling and Racing Board
Ms Claire Horton, Deputy Director: Fiscal Policy, Provincial Treasury (Western Cape), referred to the acts and regulations -- the Western Cape Gambling and Racing Act of 1996 -- that detailed the process that had to be followed when appointing board members. She outlined the regulations concerning the composition of the board, and the sections which deal with the eligibility for appointment of member or employee of the board, as well as the criteria for the disqualification of Members or employees of the board. She also described the process that needed to be followed for the nomination of candidates, as well as the procedure for appointment.
The Provincial Treasury (PT) had sought and received legal advice on two questions. The first question had been whether the Standing Committee was required or permitted to interview candidates as part of the process to fill vacancies on the board. The advice which was obtained from legal services was that both the Act and the regulations were silent with regard to the process employed by the Committee in evaluating candidates. Nevertheless, it was clear that the Committee was required to evaluate all candidates in respect of the suitability for appointment. The manner to be employed by the Committee in evaluating candidates was not proscribed. Neither the Act nor the regulations dictated that it must interview candidates, nor does it prohibit it from interviewing candidates. All that was required was that the Committee evaluate the candidates and submit a shortlist of no fewer names than the amount referred to in regulation 4(3), and within the timeframe referred to in regulation 4(3).
The second question was whether the recruitment and selection process may be undertaken prior to the expiry of a board member’s term of office. According to Chapter 2, section 7, of the Act, there was nothing in the Act or regulations that prescribed when the process of filling a vacant post should begin. While not all vacancies on the board could be foreseen, a vacancy as a result of a term of office expiring was predictable, as the date of termination was known. From an efficiency perspective, it would therefore make sense to commence with the process of filling the predicted vacancy prior to the post becoming vacant. The process of commencing with the filling of a predicted vacant position could commence prior to the position becoming vacant. The offer, however, could be made to the candidate only once the requirements in terms of the Act and regulations had been complied with, and the position was actually vacant.
Ms Horton took the Members through the current process in terms of the applicants that this Committee would need to make a decision on. The call for nominations had been placed, in accordance with regulation 3(1), in the Provincial Gazette, Vukani, the Mail and Guardian, Die Burger, and the Weekend Argus on 26, 27 and 28 July 2018. In addition, the call for nominations had been placed in the Provincial Government’s jobs portal. A total of 272 eligible nominations had been received. In accordance with regulation 3(3), application forms had been sent to all eligible nominees. 48 applications had been returned. Regulation 3(6) required the publication of the names of each nominee who had submitted a valid application form. The closing date for comment regarding the suitability for appointment was the 31 January 2019. No comments had been received.
Ms Horton explained that applicants who indicated an address outside of the Western Cape had been requested to respond to a number of questions. Provincial Treasury, having received on a previous occasion a legal opinion from Legal Services, had applied the criteria with which to determine “ordinarily resident.” The Standing Committee was requested to consider the answers provided by the applicants in determining their “ordinarily resident” status to the following questions:
- The nature and cause of the applicant’s physical presence within an area, business or employment;
- The average length of stay in an area outside the Western Cape;
- Whether the applicant’s family resided and/or children attended school in the Western Cape;
- Whether the applicant intended to return to the Western Cape after a short absence;
- Where the applicant considered their dwelling or residence, home and belongings to be.
The board was comprised of seven board members. Currently, five of the board positions were filled.
Ms Horton elaborated on the expiration dates of the terms of office of the current board members. The intention of this process was to fill four vacancies, and to complete this process earlier. Because of the term of office of the previous Parliament coming to an end, it had been thought useful for this Committee to make that determination. In terms of the legislation, a term of office could be extended for a period of up to 4 years. Typically, the process to date would be that Cabinet would appoint a board member generally for a period of three years. This option was made use of to extend the terms of office of certain board members.
When two of the board members’ terms of office expire in March 2020, this would alter the current board dynamics. Currently, two board members had financial and accounting qualifications. One board member had legal qualifications and experience. Two board members had public entity board and general administration experience. The reduction of the board by two board members would mean that there would be no body on the board with legal experience. This would also reduce the number of people with governance experience.
Regarding the shortlisting criteria to be applied, the act provided very little in terms of guidance. However, section 3(2) provides that members of the board that have appropriate knowledge or experience shall be eligible, provided that appointment to the board shall be made with gender sensitivity. PT had considered candidates with appropriate knowledge and experience, as well as gender representation and disability.
At this stage, the Committee should note that one applicant had indicated a potential indirect connection to the Limited Payout Machine operator industry. The Committee would need to consider whether this was a potential conflict of interest. Three applicants had indicated an address outside of the Western Cape. The Committee would similarly need to make a determination with regard to their status.
The Chairperson said that procedural questions would be asked first, after which the meeting would be closed to discuss confidential matters.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) suggested that it must be accepted that while the legislation prescribes minimum criteria when considering the most suitable candidates, one should also be considering other factors. When one read the legislation, one would also want people with the necessary knowledge who would promote the turnover of the national lotteries board. The Committee was looking for candidates with qualities such as general business acumen and experience. Other considerations would be deduced from the legislation and the aims and vision of the board. If two candidates both possessed the same qualification, there might be other considerations that might indicate which might be the preferred candidate. Could PT further enlighten the Committee? Furthermore, the Committee needed to submit a list after this meeting -- was there any indication as to whether this should be a ranked list? Should the Committee express an order of preference?
The Chairperson said that she had requested two opinions, one procedural and the other legal. One question had been whether the names should be ranked, and the legal opinion had been that they should not, and that there should only be a pool of names that the Committee wanted in its recommendations after the interviews. The executive council had the opportunity to choose who they wished to recommend, based on this pool of names.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) asked for clarification of the meaning of “gender sensitivity” in the referenced clause in real terms and how it was measured, given that it was a very broad and ambiguous statement. Moreover, concerning the gap that was indicated around the actual involvement of the Committee in the appointment process, there was not much clarity as to the roles and responsibilities that the Committee derived from the regulations. If there were particular responsibilities, how did the Committee try to close this gap in legislation? Finally, were the appointments not done at the same time? What was the rationale for the current model?
Mr D America (DA) referred to the return of 48 applications and the 13 shortlisted candidates, and asked for clarity on the criteria that were being applied in order to evaluate whether a candidate was a fit and proper person. Furthermore, how did the PT establish when to remove individuals from any office of trust on account of misconduct or dishonesty?
The Chairperson echoed Ms Nkondlo by asking why it was necessary to appoint the two board members now, and not appoint everyone from 2020 in the process. Additionally, why was it that the legislation prohibited more than two legally qualified members on the board? What was the intention behind this?
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if the nominees who were still on the shortlist were still interested in taking up these positions.
Ms Horton responded on the minimum criteria prescribed, saying that the relevant section of the Act was no longer in force and there was no detail, other than that which had been presented regarding suitable qualifications and experience. It did not unpack the legal experience requirements. This was being repealed from the Act and regulations. This did not mean that the Committee could not consider this in terms of how to go about shortlisting. What had just been described was the process followed by the PT, as opposed to what was legally required, because the regulations were silent on this. Furthermore, there was a board of five members that existed already. The PT knew the kind of skill set that the board needed in terms of its vision and purpose. Its annual performance plan (APP) was of some assistance in answering this question.
The vision of the Gambling Board included that it was to be the leading gambling and racing regulator authority in Africa. At a very high level, it gave some idea of what the board was supposed to do. Basically, the board was responsible for the renewal and awarding of gambling licences, taking into account the various probity investigations that were conducted by the office of the board. It also ensured that gambling was conducted within the regulatory framework of the province. The legislation was silent on what the board member should actually look like. Additionally, “gender sensitivity” was not defined in the legislation. If need be, the PT could obtain a legal opinion regarding the intention of “gender sensitivity.” What was taken into account was how people declared their demographic profile in the application form. The application form was currently contained in the regulations. The PT had to adhere to what the application form currently looked like.
Furthermore, the board was comprises of seven board members who came in and out at different times. It was important that there should be a spread of people in terms of their demographic profile, but also in respect of what they could bring in the form of experience. What was typically looked for was a representative from the social sector, such as a non-governmental organisation (NGO), someone with legal experience, somebody with finance experience, and a person with information technology (IT) experience. It was often quite difficult to attract all these kinds of skill sets among the people that applied. This was generally the scope of the criteria regarding the profile of the person that was looked for, based on those who had submitted an application form.
Concerning the 13 individuals that had been selected, the PT had cut the 48 applicants down to 13 individuals through the ranking criteria. Those individuals had been asked to verify that everything that they had declared about themselves was the truth and that there was nothing that the PT ought to be alerted to. It had been quite an expensive exercise to go through. This was why there had been an initial process to assess the suitability of candidates.
The legislation also indicated that the Committee must be given the names of three individuals for each vacancy that must be filled. The intention of this process was to fill four vacancies. Obviously, the Committee may interview the individuals and follow whatever process to identify a suitable candidate. The Committee may discover that there was nobody suitable. As to why all the vacancies were not filled at the same time, there were a number of reasons. Since board members had left at different times historically, there would be a staggered approach to appointing new ones.
Ms Horton said the practice had been that someone was appointed for three years with the option of extending for another year. This was in order to create some space in the system for the PT, but also to have a degree of continuity in the board. Given the nature of what they were regulating, it was important to have new blood in the system, but also experience. This helped provide continuity in the board regarding the decisions taken. From a practical perspective, it was vital not to have an entirely new board all at once. The decision that had been taken by the previous Minister was that because there were board vacancies arising, and the term of the previous Parliament was coming to an end, he did not want to impose that board on the new Committee or Cabinet. This was why the terms of office were for a shorter period than was normally the case. Because the vacancies could not be filled, the previous Committee had decided that it was better to hold the decision-making over to the new Committee, given that it was right at the end of their period in office. Two board members had had their membership extended so that the board was at least quorate, with at least five members.
Regarding who was a “fit and proper person,” the PT felt that it was important for this Committee make that determination. The Act did not provide a definition of “fit and proper,” and what could be construed as “misconduct” had to be read in terms of this Act. This Committee had to decide, within the application of this Act, what would be defined as “misconduct.” A probity report was to check. It was not just a matter of self-declaration.
Dr Ndodana Nleya, Director: Fiscal Policy, Provincial Treasury (Western Cape), explained that in respect of disqualification, section 5 of the Act covered “fit and proper.” The Act did not specify the term of office of the board, but referred to the term of office of a member, which was actually prescribed. The Committee would need to exercise its discretion as to what this meant in practice in so far as the appointment of a board for a term was concerned.
The Chairperson reiterated Mr America’s question about how to establish whether someone had been removed, based on a specific misconduct.
Mr Nleya explained that when the probity checks were conducted, they were supposed to determine the truth based on the responses that the applicants had actually provided, and to find out whether there were any red flags in this area.
Ms Nkondlo reiterated that the concept of “gender sensitivity” was a matter which the Committee had to consider. A legal opinion ought to be sought by the Committee from its own legal team, or that of the Department. The term must be clarified so that tomorrow the government was not seen as over-stretching that mandate. It could also be a quantitative measure. Currently, the notion was highly ambiguous and open to legal loopholes. Furthermore, the role of the Committee in appointment of boards had to be clarified somewhere -- for example, in the Act. In the appointment of boards, the notion of experience and ensuring succession was a noble thing, but the rationale was still not clear. Was this board in synchronisation with the approach which stated that a certain percentage of experience would be retained? Given the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for example, should the Committee not consider an amendment to the Act?
Mr van der Westhuizen added that one of the most important tasks of the board was to appoint a chief executive officer (CEO). One of the requirements for board members was that they should have management experience, having served either on another board or on a board in the business world, with experience of appointing senior people and overseeing the operations of a government department or a business.
Mr America asked why there were only 13 candidates, and so many others had been excluded from the list. Why could the Committee not be granted access to the candidates that had been excluded so that it could consider whether the 13 that had been presented were the most suitable? Proper contextualisation of the list that was being presented needed to be given.
The Chairperson clarified that the shortlisting of the candidates had been completed in the administration’s fifth term. Now they had the shortlisted candidates and they were continuing the process of the recommendation on who the Committee thought should be recommended by the House from the shortlist, through the Minister, to the Executive Council.
Ms Horton said that board membership or managerial experience was one of the criteria which the PT looked at when compiling a shortlist. It had provided the Committee with the full list of 48 candidates and how the PT had scored them. Section 4 of the regulations gave the power to shortlist to the accounting officer of the responsible department -- in this case, the Provincial Treasury. The shortlist had been compiled by the accounting officer.
The Chairperson commented on the two opinions that had been requested. The first opinion that had been requested was procedural. The second opinion was legal. The first question was whether the Sixth Parliament may continue with this process, and the opinion had indicated that the point at which the process ended was at the Department. The Committee at the time had essentially relieved itself of what it had to do at that stage. The formal referral had been received to go on with the business only in the Sixth Parliament, because it had been formally referred in the Sixth Parliament. In the legal opinion, the process had not been formally referred.
Another point in the legal opinion that should be highlighted was that the Department should provide the minimum requirements for candidates. The Committee had then raised questions as to whether there were any such requirements. The legal opinion that had been received concerning the meaning of ‘legally resident” was essentially the same as the opinion that had previously been given by the Department. There was a bit of discomfort concerning the fact that it had been suggested that the Committee should decide what was “ordinarily resident.” This must be part of the recommendations.
The legal opinion from the Western Cape also indicated that all four vacancies could be filled. Furthermore, sub-regulation 2 said that the Committee must submit a final shortlist to the responsible Minister for submission for consideration to the Executive Council. This essentially meant that the board was accountable to the Executive Council, which was the whole Cabinet. This could be discussed. Moreover, there were a lot of gaps in the legislation -- procedural, definitional etc. While this was not the Committee’s current exercise, if there were any questions that came up, it could consider them for possible future resolution in the recommendations to the House when it finalised the shortlist.
The meeting was closed to receive and consider a briefing on the probity report by the service provider. The meeting was subsequently reopened.
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that one of the problems was having a list for interviews that was too long. The current list complied with the basic regulations in the Act, but it was still not certain whether candidates possessed the necessary work experience in order to be able to fulfil such a responsible position. It would be a pity if a candidate arrived, only for the Committee to find out that he/she did not meet the requirements. It may be necessary to have one more selection process. If all 13 candidates complied with the minimum criteria, the Committee could reconsider. However, there could be further requirements from the side of the Committee. He proposed that other criteria be considered so that the Committee could make its own shortlist of candidates. For the two positions to be filled now, it could be problematic to invite people for an interview with the limited information at hand.
The Chairperson clarified that the Department would be giving the Committee a pack on each person.
Mr America made the correction, saying that the question was whether there would be interviews. Who would be interviewed would follow that discussion.
The Chairperson continued that if it was agreed that interviews would be taking place, the candidates would be invited and questions would be raised in that context. Based on the criteria in terms of where their experience lay with regard to the terms of reference, the candidates would be scored. The Committee would probe the questions around “ordinarily resident.” The Committee would subsequently discuss whether somebody was “ordinarily resident” at the discussions after the interviews. The Committee might, on paper, think that someone was not “ordinarily resident,” but the interview and discussion could result in a different outcome legally.
Mr Van der Westhuizen indicated that he supported the notion of interviews. Furthermore, the Committee ought to write to the candidates and ask if they were still interested in serving on the board, if they were ordinarily resident in the Western Cape as the Act provided and, if so, to provide the Committee with their Western Cape address.
The Chairperson responded that when the details invitations were sent out, the PT could be requested to still make sure if the people wanted to come for interviews. Regarding “ordinarily resident,” the Committee could not legally rely on people to confirm whether or not they were ‘”ordinarily resident.” This should be up to the Committee, based on the requirements in the Act.
Mr Van der Westhuizen argued, however, that the Committee had no issue about asking people to self-classify themselves in many respects, such as if they were male or female. Why should there be an issue for a candidate to say whether they were ordinarily resident in the Western Cape province?
The Chairperson responded that in terms of South African law, a person could self-classify in respect of race, gender and sex. However, different Acts (e.g. Tax Law) specifically ask about being “ordinarily resident.” Each Act did not necessarily have the same formula for determining ordinarily resident. The gambling legislation did not give specifications. She referred Mr Van der Westhuizen to the slide which addressed the nature and cause of the applicants’ physical presence in an area. The following factors needed to be considered -- the average length of stay within an area outside of the Western Cape, whether the applicant’s family reside and/or children attend school in the Western Cape, intend to return to the Western Cape after a short absence, and where the applicant considered their dwelling and residence, home and belongings to be.
Ms Nkondlo pointed out that the Chairperson’s guidance from the onset had been to take a resolution on the interviews. The notion or principle of interviews had been supported. It was not appropriate to discuss the nature of those interviews in this meeting. The process of determining what the Committee would like to ascertain could not be debated here. The meeting would not finish. Could the Committee move on this resolution, and the move on to the other resolutions?
The resolution to interview the candidates was agreed to.
The resolution that the PT provide the Committee before the interview date with the complete files of the candidates, in terms of the relevant regulations, was agreed to.
The motion that the PT provide the administration with the contact details of the candidates as soon as possible so that the procedural officer could move forward with the planning of the interviews, was agreed to.
The motion that Provincial Treasury provide the Committee with possible questions and an answering guide, was agreed to.
Mr van der Westhuizen requested that the Committee be allowed to amend or add what it liked to the list of questions.
The Chairperson explained that the PT would give the Committee questions that they thought would be appropriate to ask candidates. The Committee could deviate should it wish to do so.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked whether all 13 candidates which met all the minimum criteria would be invited?
The Chairperson said that her understanding was that if a certain number of candidates were shortlisted, all of these candidates should be invited.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked whether the Committee should not be allowed to compile its own shortlist?
The Chairperson stipulated that the shortlisted candidates had been chosen by the Fifth Parliament. These were the shortlisted candidates. What this Committee had to do with the 13 candidates was to decide how many names it had to send to the Minister, via the House, for the Executive Council to consider. The Committee must choose out of the 13 candidates, but in order to do so, it had to interview all of them.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked whether there was a resolution from the Fifth Parliament that out of the 48 candidates, only these 13 candidates would be shortlisted.
The Chairperson explained that in terms of the law, they had to submit a recommendation of who must be shortlisted. Then, through the Department, to the Accounting Officer, they indicate that they want a select pool of candidates as the shortlisted candidates. This had been finalised in the Fifth Parliament.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if there was a list of the 13 people that the Fifth Parliament had adopted?
Mr Nleya replied that section 4 of the regulations stipulated that the shortlisting was done by the accounting officer of the responsible department. In this instance, it was the Provincial Treasury. The shortlisting had been done by the accounting officer. It had been handed over to the Committee to evaluate as per its own rules. The shortlisting process had been completed at the Department.
Mr Van der Westhuizen reiterated his question as to where the 13 candidates had come from. Was it the Department’s decision that 13 was a manageable number? Were these the top 13 candidates?
Mr Nleya said that the 48 applications that had been returned to the Department had met the minimum requirements. The shortlisting had gone beyond the minimum requirements stated in the Act. Qualifications and degrees that were not in the minimum requirements had also been considered. Board experience was also considered in the shortlisting. Eight of the 13 candidates had board experience. Job experience in various areas had also been considered. The shortlisting sought to sift through applications. By and large, board experience had been taken into account. The Department was aware, however, that new members without board experience were required. Board membership should not be an excluding factor in the shortlisting.
Mr Van der Westhuizen supported the proposal that the interviews take place on 23 August 2019.
The Chairperson moved the final resolution -- that the PT provide the Committee with possible questions, and an answering guide as well.
Ms Nkondlo suggested that the Department, assuming that it had 48 applicants, should have reported on all 48 applicants. The Committee was relying now on the Department without any qualifying framework. It had become embroiled in a product that the Department had engaged in. By way of request, as part of that file, there should be a summary of the 48 applicants and how the Department had arrived at its decision to appoint or not appoint a candidate. As it stood, the Committee did not have any measurement tool to justify the appointment or non-appointment of a board member.
The Chairperson moved a resolution that the Department include a summary of the persons who had been excluded from the shortlist.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if the Chairperson could be mandated to meet the procedural officer and determine a programme for that day. The Committee should be allowed 30 minutes for Members to familiarise themselves with the questions, and what they would be looking for in the interviews.
The Chairperson moved the adoption of Mr Van der Westhuizen’s resolution. It was supported.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) asked whether it was possible, during the interviews, for the Committee to have someone on the panel who had a typical background regarding what the job entailed.
The Chairperson said that the Department would be present. It may not be appropriate for anyone other than the Department and the service provider to be present. The Committee would be dealing with personal information, and the meeting would likely be closed.
Drought plan proposal
The Chairperson advised the Committee that it had received a proposal from Ms Nkondlo to consider the drought plan of the Western Cape, environmental matters and public participation relating to the drought, and the City of Cape Town’s filtration services company. It was perhaps advisable to invite the Departments of Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism and Local Government to a joint meeting to discuss the drought plan of the province. The City of Cape Town could also be invited to present on their water measures. The proposal was that Department look for a date that the respective departments of Cape Town could come and brief a joint committee.
Ms Nkondlo thanked the Chairperson for bringing the matter before the Committee. The matter was about the V & A Waterfront desalination plant, which had been in the public domain since some time last year. Since the drought in 2017, part of the city’s response had been to build desalination plants. There seemed to be some challenges between the City and Quality Filtration Systems (QFS) at the Waterfront, to the extent that there had been a termination of contract and the desalination plant was unused. It was challenge because, while there was now water, one should not be irresponsible. It was important that there was some explanation and briefing about the matter. There was a need to find out what exactly was happening with the issue of desalination plants, in case another drought hit the province.
Mr America suggested that this matter fell outside the mandate of this Committee, and belonged under the mandate of the Local Government Standing Committee. Furthermore, this matter was being contested in court. It may not be advisable to engage on the matter until a court had adjudicated on it. It was not within the power of this Committee to summon the City of Cape Town, which was a local government entity, and explain to this Committee what the status of that particular contract was.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked that the Chairperson, taking into account that this matter was being addressed in court, be mandated to liaise with the other Standing Committee chairpersons in order to determine the most appropriate committee to deal with this issue and also to find a suitable date. At this point, the Committee’s first priority was filling the vacancies on the Gambling Board. All three desalination plants had been emergency measures during the drought.
The Chairperson said she had no problem with the mandate or the resolution. Upon this term commencing, after consultation with the Department and Minister, infrastructure in general, including energy and water, fell under this Committee. These were also the two top priorities in the Minister’s portfolio at the moment. Because of efficiency, it may be easier for Agriculture, Local Government and Finance to sit together to get a briefing on the drought plan from the various departments all together. The City of Cape Town had just adopted a new water plan.
After much deliberation, the Chairperson stressed that the particular matter on the table involved firstly the principle of calling for a briefing on the drought and, secondly, the proposal that the Chairperson liaise with the other chairpersons regarding a date and manner. Thirdly, the procedural and legal officers would have to advise the Committee on the appropriateness of whether this Committee could deal with the matter and under whose mandate this matter fell. In terms of rule 82 4b, the Chairperson of the Committee determines the agenda of each meeting. Because water infrastructure falls under this Committee, the suggestion was to bring the three departments and the three committees together, including the City of Cape Town, for a briefing on Cape Town’s recently adopted water plan. If people had questions on those respective matters, they could be raised with the Department and the City.
Other key priorities that were raised, especially by Mr Van der Westhuizen, were the energy crisis and the Eskom monopoly, both of which constituted a big risk for South Africa’s future economic growth. It had also recently been announced that the budgets of the Western Cape Province would be cut for the medium term. These were major issues which may lead to staff retrenchments, clinics unable to provide essential medicines, etc. Apart from the water crisis, there were numerous other major risks for this province. A think tank was needed at some point as to how the Committee’s priorities should be listed.
The Chairperson highlighted that on 2 October, the Committee had requested a briefing by the National Minister of Energy and Eskom on the energy strategy for the Western Cape, and on section 34 determinations on electricity generation for municipalities in the Western Cape for the specific reasons that Mr Van der Westhuizen had mentioned. The budget cuts fell under the Budget Committee, but a recommendation could be made for the Budget Committee to give a briefing to this Committee.
Ms Nkondlo stressed the need to address the matter of prioritisation in the Committee. There should be a tool that helped all the Members. There should be a process to adjudicate priorities. The prioritisation should not be a gentleman’s agreement. There should be one qualifying criterion which assisted in this process of funnelling priorities. It was worrying when certain issues that were brought to the Committee were dismissed by other Members because for them it was not a priority.
The Chairperson suggested that a date be found to sit and have a full briefing from the Department, specifically about their priorities within the Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism cluster. After that, the Committee could take time to discuss its priorities as a Committee. The reason why energy had been included was because energy had been the top priority in the Premier’s plan when he came to identifying risks for the Province.
The Chairperson said she would liaise with the respective chairpersons of the relevant committees, and after consultation with the procedural and legal officers regarding procedural and legal mandates, the Committee should invite the Department of Local Government, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism to a joint committee meeting to have a briefing on the drought plan of the Western Cape, as well as invite the City of Cape Town to present on their recently adopted water plan. This resolution was adopted.
The Committee suspended adoption of its draft programme until the next meeting, pending submissions from the Members based on the key issues that would need to appear in the programme.
The Minutes of the previous meeting were adopted
The meeting was adjourned.
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