The Committee had planned to review and adopt the Draft stakeholder Report and the Draft oversight Report to entities, but only managed to deliberate upon and adopt the Draft stakeholder report.
The deliberations on the Draft stakeholder report were fraught with conflict. The DA voiced their objection to an observation in the report which dealt with workers’ rights to refuse to do risky work. Other Members felt that that right should be afforded to them. Members felt that the only solution around compensation for health should be for health to now classify the different diseases for which compensation will be afforded.
The DA had initially objected to the adoption of the report. This situation desended into a debate about how and why the DA participated in the discussions but was only raising there objection now after the fact. Members other than the DA also did not see the point ‘‘in labouring endlessly and wasting so much time in amending reports only for someone to object after all the amendments‘‘.
The Chairperson had to consult the rules of Parliament to calm ANC Members. Rule 116:4b stated that: ‘‘the Committee must report and submit to the Assembly all issues presented to it except that of their internal affairs. The Committee stated that it would be better if anyone who objected stated exactly which part they objected to; however, they could not compel the DA to clarify their reasons for objecting if they did not want to do so. Amidst this debate accusations of bullying were also hurled around with Members appealing to the Chairperson to call opposing Members to order. The DA eventually relented and withdrew their opposition to the adoption of the report. The Chairperson admonished Members for their attitudes and their lack of focus on the issues in the report and for allowing their individual opinions to come in the way of moving forward with the meeting.
Members decided to go back and study the remaining report and minutes of meetings and come back to finalise the amendments and adoption. The Chairperson stated that that would also allow him enough time to find out more about the rule 116:4b.i on how the rules of Parliament worked.
The Chairperson stated that the agenda for the meeting was to look at the Draft stakeholder report and the Draft Oversight report to entities. He said that they need to reflect on what they have been doing for the past few months to ascertain how much understanding they had based on the stakeholder engagement and engagement with the situational matters regarding the environment. By now the Committee is expecting to hear financial reports from the various departments. The Committee might still be too far away from being able to account for and address social services. Though the journey has not been an easy one it has made the Committee better, more efficient and more aware of the expectations of the public and more importantly, more aware of the challenges ahead.
Briefing on the draft stakeholders report
The Chairperson stated that the Committee will be dealing with the reports starting from their first meeting after the annual plenary on the budget. The first meeting was the stakeholders meeting held on the 20 of August. This was the meeting with the unions, while the second day was on the 21 of August and this was the meeting with the employers. After dealing with this first report, the Committee would move on to the report on visits and that can be seen on the page of the report that is titled Oversight. This took place from the 26-30 August 2019. Some of the other activities were outcomes of those visits and as such the Committee will deal with some of them alongside the minutes because they do not necessarily reflect everything that happened. The Committee will relate to the CEF and NECSA as entities because of the urgency of the matters that were raised around them. They will deal with some of the matters as they are reflected upon in the minutes instead of how they are reflected upon in the reports. He hoped that Members had time to reflect on the issues in the reports and the minutes as that would make it easier for their deliberations. He requested that Members use the manual for the deliberations and based on that, pointed out pages 23:15 and 24 of the first batch of the report where it was stated that the Draft report of the Committee on Minerals and Energy presented to the Members of Parliament on the 20 and 21 August 2019 was on the observations. He urged Members to make contributions on what they think should be amended or adjusted.
Mr K Mileham (DA) indicated that he had two amendments on two observations made by the Members on page 23.
The Chairperson stated that if the statements are changed based on individual questions, it may change the meaning of the statements. One thing that the Committee was not sure of is whether they should make observations as a Committee or state what they think are the thoughts of the stakeholders.
Mr M Mahlaule (ANC) stated that there is a point on page 23:3 which he considered unnecessary. He proposed that the sentence be reconstructed to remove the unnecessary point and that the grammatical errors be corrected there as well
The Chairperson said he agrees with Mr Mahlaule and in his own opinion, the bullet point 3 should not be the only one reconstructed on page 23, but bullet points 1, 2 and 4 as well. The other Members indicated their support and the proposals were adopted.
Mr Mileham stated that his confusion with one of the observations was that he does not understand how an employee, who has been hired for a particular job and is being paid for that job can refuse to carry out any task given to him on the grounds of that task being dangerous. His confusion is based on what right the employee has to do so since he signed up for the job and gets paid for it.
The Chairperson responded that in the case of jobs that are risky, the employees only have to do the job when it is less risky and that is the essence of having risk assessments in organisations.
Mr Mahlaule expressed his surprise at Mr Mileham’s statement about an employee not having the right to refuse to do a job because he thought it was dangerous, because the previous day, the DA had made a statement about employees working in unsafe environments.
Mr Mileham responded to Mr Mahlaule saying that the Committee’s meeting for the day was not for ‘politicking‘.
Mr Mahlaule stated that someone can be employed for a job and get paid for it but that employee still reserves the right to say he cannot carry out a task when that job is risky, and as such there should be risk assessment in every workplace. The Members are not administrators but politicians and as such it is not abnormal for them to talk politics whenever they have a meeting. That is the reason for the recording of the meetings of the Committee; so that if someone makes a statement in one meeting and comes to another to say something contrary, that person can be held liable for what he/she had said previously.
The Chairperson called the attention of the Members to the fact that when they raise observations they should also have recommendations to speak to their observations. The rights of the employees are not being exercised fully because they were not afforded the right to reject risky jobs when they are assigned to them. He proposed that the Committee makes the observation that the rights of the employees were not being complied with fully in a responsible way.
Mr Mahlaule stated that he agrees with the Chairperson. If the politics of what he said earlier was ignored and the point taken, it will be seen that if someone is sent to do something risky at the workplace and that person states the risks involved in doing that job, it should not be seen as disrespectful rather it should be seen as the workers expressing their rights to refuse risking their lives by doing risky jobs. However, he did not agree with the skepticism expressed by Mr Mileham on the possibility of employees having these kinds of rights at the workplace.
Mr Mileham requested that the Chairperson call Mr Mahlaule to order because he was imputing motive to him unnecessarily by saying that he expressed sketicism on the issue when he did not do so. He merely asked a question for clarification and to know what is right or wrong with the report. He finds that action from Mr Mahlaule offensive and as such he requested that the Chairperson asks Mr Mahlaule to withdraw his statement.
The Chairperson pleaded with the Members to be focused on the report and stop taking statements personally.
Mr Mahlaule stated that when people talk in the Committee, the other Members listen carefully and so when someone says that he/she is skeptical about something, it is an expression of skepticism. Mr Mileham however insisted that he did not say that he was skeptical about anything; he also reiterated that the Chairperson should give a ruling that he (Mr Mahlaule) withdraws the statement because he was imputing a motive and that is unparliamentary. He indicated that he had accepted the explanation of the Chairperson on the rights of employees to refuse to do dangerous tasks at work but he would not accept Mr Mileham’s insistence about him being skeptical.
The Chairperson reiterated that the problem they were having was that the Members were taking the statements in the report personally or attributing them to other issues that did not have any connection with why they were here at the meeting. He again pleaded with the Members to focus on the report and help recommend how the sentence on the rights of employees should be reconstructed as that was the bone of contention that led to the misunderstandings.
Mr Mahlaule stated that he agrees witht the sentence being reconstructed as the Chairperson has proposed. He also proposed that the last bullet point on page 23 also be rephrased because there is something wrong there that makes the sentence meaningless. His proposition was seconded by Mr Mthenjane and Mr Mileham who said that he agreed with environmental sustainability being included in the sentence because illegal mining was threatening the sustainability of the environment.
The Chairperson said that he disagreed with them on that because they should always bear in mind that these things will be read and interpreted by other people who are not Members of the Committee and they may interprete it in another way and this may lead to misunderstandings.
The Chairperson raised the recommendations on page 24 and Mr Mahlaule said that the observations should be somehow connected to the recommendations as there were no major differences or separating lines between the two of them.
Mr Mahlaule stated that the Chairperson has made the issues as clear as can be. However the issues that have been brought up are issues that are very important with regard to the Committee, and as such must be covered in their own recommendations as a Committee. He reiterated that the points raised in the observations should find their way to the recommendations as they are closely linked.
The Chairperson proposed that bullets 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the recommendations which are the areas pertaining to such issues as the compensation within the sector be reconstructed.
Mr Mileham responded that the statements depended on the profitability of the different sections of the mining sector because some minerals may be higher than the others and therefore could afford to pay larger increases while others are lower and could not afford to pay as much; therefore saying that there be one compensation pattern for the entire sector may become problematic because the Committee cannot say that everybody must be paid the same amount. He suggested that the Committee allows the space for the business sector and the unions to do what they need to do which is to negotiate as this was part of their jobs.
The Chairperson explained that the compensation system is not about being paid the same, rather it is a reconciliation of three different pieces of legislation that separated the payment methods and the different areas such as disability etcetera, and these patterns are already there and as such all the Committee could do is recommend that the parties should try and finalise the process towards one compensation system. He explained that the compensation being referred to in this case is with regard to occupationally related diseases and on this note, Mr Mileham apologised stating that he had misunderstood what was meant earlier.
Ms V Malinga (ANC) stated that if the Committee says that the parties should finalise and arrive at one compensastion system, her fears are that health deals with some other diseases and since this particular type of compensation focuses only on certain diseases, it may cause some problems. She said that the only solution may be for health to now classify the different diseases for which compensation will be afforded.
The Chairperson reiterated that these processes with regard to compensation are already ongoing in the Departments of Health, Labour and Mineral resources and Energy, and all the Committee is expected to do is recommend what can be added or amended because it is not a process that has not been started as yet. All the Committee can do is to recommend that they move towards the finalisation into one system.
Ms C Philips (DA) stated that compensation should not be defined in a way that it will get misunderstood by the public. It would be better to define compensation in the exact context that it is being used here which is disability compensation so that it will not be misunderstood to be the annual salary compensation.
The Chairperson responded that that can be worked on so that such confusion does not arise.
Mr Mileham indicated that on page 24:34, the second “to“ in the last bullet point should be looked at because it is looking at two separate issues and putting them together as if they are one would be problematic. He was of the opinion that pushing for a long-stream term/plan by the DMREs is a major concern at the moment because that will help limit activities such as illegal mining. Part of the Committee’s recommendation should focus on ways of incorporating those illegal miners into the legal system and mainstream because although what they were doing is illegal, enforcement is failing. In that way, they will get to pay taxes and as such contribute in their own way to the development of the country.
The Chairperson responded that he was in agreement with him on the two things being discussed as they were two separate issues and he proposed that the issues be split into different bullets.
Mr Mahlaule at this point moved that the report on observations and recommendations be adopted and he was seconded by Ms Malinga. However, Mr Mileham objected to the adoption of the report on behalf of the DA.
Mr Mahlaule stated that he would need some clarifications on the rationale for a Member of the Committee to object to the adoption of the report after they had deliberated on and amended it. Even if there is an objection, he was of the opinion that the one objecting should state which part or parts of the report they were objecting to. He was of the opinion that the person could only object if he/she made a recommendation but it was not acknowledged.
Ms Malinga also supported his observations saying that she too did not see the reason for wasting so much time on amending reports if at the end people were still allowed to have objections to the report or the amendments.
The Chairperson responded that any member or party had the right to object to any report and the objection is for the entire report and some parts of the report. It is only the Rules Committee that has the answer to that because the rules allow people to have objections and as such the the Committee should not waste time on trying to change the rules.
Mr M Wolmarans (ANC) said that for the purposes of running the Committee, after amending the reports people should be specific about their objections in spite of what the rules said.
The Chairperson said that the rules can even nullify and object to things that have been amended and adopted by the Committee.
Mr Mahlaule requested to know the difference between rejection and the right to reserve or adopt.
Mr Mileham stated that the Committee must not agree on everything and that any party or Member has the right to adopt or object to a report as has been the practice since 1994, and on that note, the DA has the same right.
Mr D Mthenjane (EFF) stated that Members should not bully one another even as they disagree on points in the reports from the entities.
The Chairperson took the Committee to the rules of Parliament and it was seen that in rule 116:4b it was stated that the Committee must report and submit to the assembly all issues presented to it except that of their internal affairs.
Mr Mahlaule stated that since the majority were of the opinion that the report be adopted, the opinion of the majority should be followed and if anyone had an objection, he/she should state which part of the report he/she objects to.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mahlaule that it would be better if anyone who objects states exactly which part they objected to; however, he can not compel Mr Mileham to give that clarification if he does not want to do so.
Mr Mileham stated that he objected because the report has an undue weighting towards the unions rather than the stakeholders of the industries.
The Chairperson indicated that he does not think Mr Mileham’s response on why he objected to the report was specific enough for the Committee to work with.
Ms Malinga stated that the rules are clear and any member who objects to any report must state clearly as to why he objects. She does not see the point in labouring endlessly and wasting so much time in amending reports only for someone to object after all the amendments.
Mr J Bilankulu (ANC) suggested that a vote should be carried out so as to move forward with the meeting.
Mr Mahlaule stated that the rules should be made clearer to avoid the issue of bullying occuring in the Committee as Mr Mthenjane had observed.
Ms Philips at this point stated that on page 25:5 on ‘observations‘, the statement there is unclear and that is one of the reasons why the DA objects to the report.
Ms Malinga expressed her displeasure that the objections were not raised during the amendments but they are coming up during the adoption and after the amendments.
Mr Mahluale agreed with her on this expression of displeasure.
The Chairperson stated that the rules do not state that objections cannot be raised after the amendments. He reiterated that the rules do not state anytime for any objection to be given. Rather the rules stated that all the reason for the objection be clearly stated.
Ms Philips continued saying that on page 16:4 in the recommendations of the report, there was disagreement between Members and their party as the DA does not agree with Chapter three on Mining.
Mr Mahlaule recommended that the DA endeavours to raise issues they do not agree with during the amendments so that the Committee does not have to rescue objections for reports that have been amended.
Mr Mthenjane also expressed his displeasure at the objection being raised by Mr Mileham after the report had been adopted especially when he participated actively during the amendments of both the observations and recommendations. He said that the objection was just taking the Commitee round in circles because they had spent the whole day deliberating on issues and amending them only for someone to reject the report.
Mr Mileham responded that if there is indeed bullying going on in the House, it was the DA that was being bullied into accepting a report that they do not agree with because it is grossly worker-based rather than being industry-based. If the bullies in the house would allow him to speak, he wished to reiterate that the DA reserves the right to either adopt or object to a report, but in the interest of peace and for the meeting to continue, he withdrew his objection.
Mr Mahlaule stated his displeasure at Mr Mileham referreing to him as a bully and requested that the Chairperson calls him to order and asks him to withdraw the statement.
Mr Mileham however countered his complaint saying that the word bullying was thrown at him first and that as the case may be, he did not call Mr Mahlaule a bully rather he said “the bullies in the house“.
The Chairperson expressed his gross disappointment at the behaviour of the Members and advised that they look beyond their political parties and their work whenever they have a meeting so that they will be able to achieve the common good and goals of the Committee. He admonished them for their attitudes and their lack of focus on the issues in the report and for allowing their individual opinions to come in the way of moving forward with the meeting. He stated that as long as Members continue to carry their parties and work to meetings and do not look beyond them, they will be known as a Committee that creates more problems than they produce solutions.
He reminded the Committee that they still have one more report to deliberate upon and adopt as well as eleven or twelve minutes of previous meetings that needed to be adopted too. He stated that given that they had spent their allotted time arguing over the first report, he doubts if they will be able to finsh everything they had on the agenda. He therefore asked the opinions of the Members on this.
Mr Mileham responded that he has only a few corrections on the report and if everyone else feels the same way then it may not take too long to amend and adopt the second report; Mr Wolmarans and Ms Philips agreed with Mr Mileham and also proposed that the second report be attended to.
The Chairperson advised that the Members go back and study the remaining report and minutes of meetings and come back to finalise the amendments and adoption. He stated that that will also give him enough time to find out more about the rule 116:4b.i on how the rules of Parliament worked.
Mr Mahlaule however proposed that the meeting be adjourned to give Members some time to go through the remaining report and minutes of meetings thoroughly. He therefore moved the motion for the adjournment of the meeting. His motion was seconded by Ms Philips.
The Chairperson gave a closing remark, urging the Members to express their utmost respect for themselves, their colleagues in Parliament and Parliament as a whole.
The meeting was adjourned.
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