The theme of the meeting was Citizen Surveillance, but no department was present to brief the Committee. The Procedural Officers of the Committee did its utmost over the last two weeks to get attendance confirmation from the National Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Communications, but to no avail.
The Health Minister’s office replied timeously, saying the Minister could not attend. The Director-General (DG) of Health did not confirm his attendance at the meeting. This is despite numerous follow-ups. According to the regulations the Committee is aware of, it is in fact the DG of Health to whom powers in the regulations related to citizen surveillance are delegated.
Regarding the Department of Communications, the Procedural Officers were in contact with the Acting Minister’s Office and Department. There was no reply until the previous day. The Department of Communication informed the Committee it was not the Department dealing with citizen surveillance because the paragraphs dealing with this in the regulations were deleted.
The Department of Home Affairs are now the custodians of the Covid-19 tracing database. The meeting was postponed, and the Department of Health and the Department of Home Affairs will be invited to come and present on the theme of citizen surveillance.
The Committee also said it had meetings with private care hospitals and may consider having meetings with entities such as businesses, nursing unions, health care forums in communities, non-governmental stakeholders, to get a broader of contributions, and input with a broader perspective.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee Members to the meeting. No apologies were noted.
The theme of the meeting was citizen surveillance. Citizen surveillance is also called contact tracing.
There was no department present to brief the Committee. Over the last two weeks, the Procedural Officers of the Committee did its utmost to get confirmation from the National Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Communications, but to no avail.
The Health Minister’s office replied timeously, saying the Minister could not attend. The Director-General (DG) of Health did not confirm his attendance at the meeting. This is despite numerous follow-ups.
According to the regulations the Committee is aware of, citizen surveillance is delegated to the DG of Health by virtue of the regulations.
Regarding the Department of Communications, the Procedural Officers were in contact with the Acting Minister’s Office and Department. There was no reply until the previous day. The reply said the Department of Communications was not the Department dealing with citizen surveillance.
The regulations prescribed citizen surveillance to the Department of Communications and from the end of March, follow-up correspondence about the regulations was sent. However, the electronic communications post on broadcasting directions published new regulations. The new regulations deleted the paragraphs related to contact tracing.
The Department of Home Affairs is now the custodians of the Covid-19 tracing database. It has the power to request location raised information from mobile operators/companies.
There was a proposal put forward to the Committee for the meeting to be rescheduled to on the same theme to next week Wednesday. The Department of Health and Department of Home Affairs will be invited to come and present on the theme of citizen surveillance. The Chairperson asked if there were any objections.
No objections were raised to the proposal.
The Chairperson suggested the Committee begin its discussion around the parameters of public participation. The Committee also dealt with some outstanding administration. There were also minutes to adopt.
Where public comments are invited, an element of public participation is added. This will include voices from the private and public sector. Members who gave thoughts must raise it then.
Ms D Baartman (DA) asked if the Committee could, as part of the public participation, invite various business chambers, sector associations, and businesses in general, to make representations or submissions in writing about any impact the Covid-19 pandemic had on its business. It could also address the impact on its employees. Given the impact within the provincial economy, a particular focus could be put on financial tourism and construction sectors.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked if the Committee should invite the private health sectors. The Committee could pose questions about how it saw its role, because this is a national pandemic affecting many South Africans. He said it is an ideal opportunity to develop a partnership and bridge between the private and public sector role players. At the same time, it would enlighten the Committee to the areas where the partnership was already cemented, and what could be expected from such co-operation.
Mr K Sayed (ANC) said, while the Committee had meetings with private care hospitals and various others on the list already, the Committee should extend invitations to :
- nursing unions,
- health care forums in communities,
- non-governmental stakeholders,
- governing body associations,
- teachers unions, and
- a variety of unions not only one,
- neighbourhood watch
He said all these contributions will only add to the diversity of input to create a broader perspective.
The Chairperson said the input was very helpful, and the intention was for the Committee to put the programme together for the next meeting. It would do this using the Constituency period to arrange all of those briefings while also giving time for public input on the Committee’s report itself.
Ms L Botha (DA) suggested inviting the Independent Schools Association of South Africa (ISASA). She said, as the country moved down to Level Three, many people were going back into the economy and workspaces. However, education was one sphere of importance needing diverse input.
Mr G Bosman (DA) said the umbrella bodies specifically managing privately run elderly, child, and youth care home facilities are also invited.
The Chairperson thanked the Members. She said the Committee needs a diversity of input to fully understand what was happening in each of those spaces.
The Committee’s attention was drawn to a press statement released by the Ministry of Health, confirming the whole country will be moving to alert Level Three from 1 June 2020.
The Procedural Officer, Ms Lizette Cloete, told the Committee the minutes will be adopted at the next meeting. This meeting will take place on 3 June 2020.
She noted the Chairperson incorrectly noted down the minutes for the current meeting, and not the next meeting.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Cloete and the Members for attendance. Members were advised to send any items the Members wanted to raise to the Procedural Officers before the next meeting. This was the shortest meeting of the Ad-hoc Committee to date.
Members were told to keep safe.
The meeting was adjourned.
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