The scheduled briefing by the Department of Local Government on its first quarterly performance report for the period April to June 2019 was postponed for a week, after Members complained that the documentation had arrived only on the morning of the meeting, leaving them with inadequate time to study it and engage meaningfully on its contents. The Chairperson stressed that it was not acceptable to expect the Committee to perform proper oversight when it did not receive the necessary material timeously. With the support of the Members, he postponed the presentation to the following week.
The only other business conducted by the meeting was the adoption of Committee minutes, a decision to send a formal letter of condolences to the family of the late gospel music minister, Mr Jabu Nkabinde, and draft proposals for the Committee’s future programme.
The Chairperson said the meeting’s agenda indicated that the Committee would have a briefing on the Department’s first quarterly performance report (April 2019 – June 2019). However, up to this morning, he had not received any information regarding the presentation, nor any report. This situation would not enable the Committee Members to engage meaningfully with the content of the presentation. It was not acceptable that this Committee was expected to be exercise oversight, and then receives material that enables it to play that role only on the morning of the meeting. The Committee could not accept this. He asked why the report had not been received timeously, to meaningfully engage with the contents.
The Committee Secretary replied that he did not know why the Committee had received the report only now. The Department may be able to give an explanation. It was standard practice for the Committee to receive the presentation seven days before the meeting. The Department had been informed about the meeting on about 2 August, with a request that the names and presentations be forwarded.
Mr Graham Paulse, Chief Director, Municipal Performance Monitoring and Support: Department of Local Government, began by presenting an apology, and said full responsibility was accepted. The Committee’s directions would be followed in future. If the Committee required the documentation to be submitted prior to carrying out its oversight role, he asked it to give an indication of how many days before the time it would require the presentation. The Department would oblige and comply with that request.
Ms M Maseko (DA) said that the challenge faced by the Committee was that all its Members were new. They did not have the annual performance plan (APP) at hand so that they could follow the presentation. Was there a strategy that could be adopted to help the Committee in this regard?
The Committee Secretary explained that the APP had been distributed to the Members at the second meeting with the Department, which had been the overview of the Department.
Ms Maseko responded that the Members did not know the format of the presentation. If they knew the format, they would have come to the meeting with the APP.
Mr P Marran (ANC) asked for guidance as to how the Committee should proceed. It was problematic when the Committee received information only on the morning of a meeting. In other committees, meetings were postponed because of information that was not received. It was a big problem because Committee Members could not prepare themselves for a meeting. For information to be received, seven days prior could work. He had left at 4.30am to be on time for this meeting. He proposed they should proceed with the meeting.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) fully supported the sentiment being expressed. Going forward, things would hopefully improve.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) reiterated the opinion that it was unacceptable that the Committee should arrive for a presentation which they had not been given an opportunity to look at prior to their arrival. How was the Committee going to interrogate the report without having gone through the information and familiarising itself with what was expected from this meeting? She was uncertain as to whether this meeting should continue or not.
Mr D Smith (ANC) aligned himself with the sentiments expressed by other Members. The meeting should be postponed until further notice.
Having listened to all Committee members and Mr Paulse, and having regard for the sentiments expressed, the Chairperson suspended the presentation. The Committee would reconvene in a week’s time to deal with this presentation so that the Members had time to deal with its contents. The meeting would proceed, because the Committee had other business to conclude.
Mr Paulse asked how many days prior to the meeting the presentation should be forwarded to the Committee.
Ms Maseko responded that it should be seven days prior, but at least four working days.
Mr Paulse responded that the Department would comply.
The briefing by the Department of Local Government on its first quarterly performance report was postponed until the following week.
The Chairperson apologised to Members for the postponement, but said it was unacceptable -- if the Committee took its role as an oversight body seriously, it could not allow this to happen. He thanked them for their contribution in enabling him to make a decision. The Committee had given the Department notification that in future, reports needed to reach Members way before the time of meetings so that they could acquaint themselves with the contents, and engage critically and meaningfully. The Department had got the message now -- that the Committee would not entertain this kind of practice in the future.
After some deliberation, the Chairperson requested that an electronic copy of the macro design in the presentation on page 6 be forwarded to the Members for purposes of legibility.
Mr Marran agreed, saying that the illegibility seemed almost to be deliberate. The Department had to provide the Committee with the means to do its job.
There was a request by Ms Makamba-Botya for a moment of silence for the late gospel music minister, Mr Jabu Nkabinde.
The Chairperson expressed his condolences to all who knew him.
There was then a moment of silence.
Given that the Committee had the presentation before them, the Chairperson requested that if there was anything that needed further clarity or illustration, Members could liaise with him so that the Department could be requested to respond when came next week.
The minutes of 30 June were adopted.
Apart from the request that the Committee send a formal letter of condolences to the family of the late Mr Nkabinde, the Chairperson asked whether there were any other resolutions.
Ms Maseko proposed a second resolution -- that the Committee needed to receive a presentation or report from the Department at least four working days prior to the meeting. This was adopted.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if a visit to the provincial disaster management centre could be included in the Committee’s future programme.
The Committee Secretary said it could be included in the programme.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked if specific consideration could be given to what was being done to respond to, and prevent, veld fires from breaking out, and whether the Department saw it as part of its mandate to try and implement measures to promote fire safety among communities. Some of the biggest losses had taken place in informal settlements.
The Chairperson said that the Committee programme would be resubmitted at the next meeting so that it could be reviewed, in order to determine what matters needed to be dealt with urgently. The visit to the disaster management centre would be accommodated within the programme. A date and time must still be confirmed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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