The Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution met to discuss the extension of the mandate of the Committee.
The Ad Hoc Committee would have lapsed at the end of May 2020 although its work was not yet finalised. The Committee agreed that it should request its mandate be extended as the Committee has not completed its public hearings due to COVID19. The challenge with requesting the extension is that the Committee cannot establish a date for extension to it is dependent on when the Committee can proceed with public hearings.
It was agreed the Chairperson would write to the Speaker of the National Assembly asking her for the extension of the mandate of the Committee until such time that it will be appropriate.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee and applauded it for its hard work. The Committee has received positive feedback for the groundwork it was doing. It displayed admirable multiparty teamwork and co-operation. The Committee represented Parliament well and this spirit should prevail.
The mandate of Ad Hoc Committee will expire at end May 2020. The Chairperson required guidance from the Committee on potentially requesting an extension of the mandate of the Committee. The Committee was due to hold public hearings during May however, due to COVID19, it is unable to do so.
Prof A Lotriet (DA) agreed that the Committee should request an extension. The dilemma is that public hearings need to be completed however, with COVID19, it is difficult to predict when public participation will be allowed. Despite this, a request of extension of the mandate of the Ad Hoc Committee must be made.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) agreed that the Ad Hoc Committee should request an extension until it has completed its work including completion of public hearings in the three remaining provinces. The length of the extension would be dependent on the return to normality of operations in the country.
Dr C Mulder (FF+) stated that the Committee could request an extension from Parliament. The House has to adopt a resolution - this was discussed at the programming meeting on 21 May 2020. On 27 May 2020, Parliament is sitting to deal with these questions. Thus, if the Committee can agree on wording for the request in the meeting, then it can be put in front of the House at the next sitting. The difficulty with requesting an extension is determining the date the Committee will be extended to. Given the circumstances of COVID19, this is challenging. Alternatively, the Committee will lapse at the end of May. The work done in the Committee will not lapse and can still be used later on. Thus, once the circumstances are more stable, the Committee can request to be reinstated with all previous work taken into consideration.
Mr R Moroatshehla (ANC) believed the Committee should request an extension however, determining the date to which the Committee will be extended to is an issue. The best thing would be to indicate in the letter that it is dependent on the lockdown alert level that allows for public gatherings.
Adv B Bongo (ANC) said the request for an extension of the Committee should be until such a time that the lockdown levels will allow the Committee to complete the job of public hearings. Parliament and the nation understands the situation the Committee is in and thus, a date should not be stipulated. The Committee is close to finalising as there are only three provinces remaining for public hearings.
Nkosi ZM Mandela (ANC) supported the input of the Committee. The Committee should request to have its mandate extended. The date should not be stipulated but it should be informed by the situation at hand as the National Task Team deals with the lockdown situation. The request should not have a specific date but it should outline that it is depends on when the Committee can proceed with its work in accordance to lockdown regulations.
The Chairperson did not know if it is necessary to go back to the House. He asked the Committee if the request must be put to the House or if the request should be made to the Speaker in writing.
Ms Lesoma stated that the office of the Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson should write to the Speaker on behalf of the Committee. The Speaker has the responsibility to table it before the House as the Committee was instituted by Parliament. The ideal time is when Parliament is sitting on 27 May 2020.
Prof Lotriet asked if the proposal to extend the mandate of the Committee without an extension date will be approved by Parliament.
Adv Bongo said the Chairperson will write to the Speaker and the Speaker will table the matter in the House. Parliament understands the situation of the country and that it is a matter dependent on the schedules from the National Command Centre. For the purpose of writing to the Speaker, it will be cine die, until such a time that it is determined by the National COVID19 Council that will allow for the Committee to complete public consultations.
The Chairperson said that it is then assumed the Speaker will do so in line with the laws of Parliament. Thus, the Committee agrees that it will request for an extension of its mandate until such time that the situation allows for public gatherings.
The meeting was adjourned.
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