The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs met with the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) on a virtual platform to discuss preparations for the Local Government Elections in 2021. The Deputy Minister was in attendance.
The IEC informed the Committee that it was already in process of preparing for the 2021 elections. Elections had to take place within 90 days of expiry of the current term. The earliest possible date for Local Government Elections (LGE) 2021 would be 04 August 2021 and the latest date would be 01 November 2021. The date of the election would be proclaimed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs after consultation with the IEC. Voting day would be preceded by special voting days. The IEC was targeting registration and would arrange two voter registration weekends ahead of the election. The IEC would also facilitate online voter registration and look at other ways of registering voters. There were no changes to outer municipal boundaries; the only changes were to ward boundaries. A new voting device would work in real time and therefore ensure that there were no duplicate votes.
The IEC had made huge progress in obtaining the addresses of voters. There were 26,5 million registered voters. 24.1 million or 91% had complete addresses; 4% had a potentially incomplete address but could be rural addresses; 5% had no address at all and those people were largely in informal settlements in high density provinces and former Homeland areas. The great unknown risk ahead of the elections was the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA) had implications for the IEC which would have to remove certain information when the voters’ roll was made public. Legislation would have to be amended to protect the personal information of voters by requiring the CEO to redact certain personal information of voters on the roll before it was made available to contestants and also to remove entitlement of any person to a segment of the voters’ roll. The Bill had been finalised with the Department of House Affairs and would soon begin the parliamentary process.
Members were unhappy that there were 1.1 million voters with partial address and 1.2 million voters with no address The noted that the recruitment process was expected to start in January and asked why only start in January in the new normal of Covid-19.
Members asked about the new voting device, if the IEC collaborated with other state institutions such as the Department of Social Services, the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Basic Education and the SA Revenue Service, how voting would take place during the pandemic, how the IEC intend dealing with voter apathy, especially among the youth, the impact of the recent constitutional court ruling and the work being undertaken by the Municipal Demarcation Board.
Members asked the IEC for its view on the combining of the national and provincial elections with the local government elections. Was it possible? What was the main issue in not postponing the 2021 elections? The cost was about R1.6 billion an election. Would there not be a cost saving if the two elections were conducted at the same time?
The Committee considered and adopted its report on the Department’s special adjustments budget.
The Chairperson welcomed Members and guests to the meeting. The meeting was intended to look into the state of readiness of the IEC to run the Local Government Elections in 2021.
He commended the National Command Council on the work that it was doing. It was first time that the country had had to deal with such a virus and he thought that the Command Council was doing extremely well in a very difficult situation. He welcomed the ban on alcohol as the hospitals were full and that decision would go a long way to making hospitals more manageable.
The Chairperson noted that an apology had been received from the Minister of Home Affairs but he had sent the Deputy Minister in his place, which meant that the Deputy was in attendance as the representative of the Minister. He thanked the Minister for his responsible attitude towards the Committee.
Regarding the matter about the remarks made by Ms A Khanyile (DA), the Chairperson had obtained an opinion on the matter from the Parliamentary Legal Services. He had been told that it was her right to express an opinion about what she had seen on the day in question if she expressed an opinion and not a fact. In his view that closed the matter, but he had received an email from Ms T Legwase (ANC) stating that she had taken the matter to the Ethics Committee. He did not think that it was necessary but it was the right of Ms Legwase to approach the Ethics Committee. He would leave the matter in their hands because as far as the Committee was concerned, he believed that it was the end of the matter. Ms Khanyile was entitled to express her opinion and the matter had received attention. The management committee of the Portfolio Committee had also discussed this and the committee expressed its satisfaction with the process and that Ms Khanyile was entitled to say what she had as she had expressed an opinion and not a fact. That matter was closed.
He was aware that the DA had written to the Ethics Committee asking about the matter involving himself. He welcomed the intervention and thanked the DA for raising it as it had been dragging on since 2017 and it was in the best instance of all to have the matter finalised promptly.
Mr M Lekota (COPE) informed the Chairperson that, in previous meeting, he had intended to say that his party would be submitting a report on the matter of the Independents Bill in Parliament. The document would be submitted that day so that the Committee and relevant structures could review the document.
The Chairperson thanked him and said that he would receive the document after the meeting and proceed with it. He would call a management committee meeting and he would invite Mr Lekota to attend the meeting so that the matter could be discussed, but he also requested any advice Members wanted to offer in respect of proceeding with that matter in the light of the roadmap.
Mr R Dyantyi (ANC) asked that Mr Lekota provide the management meeting with the document.
The Chairperson stated that Mr Lekota had already sent the document. He would call a management meeting to deal with the matter.
Mr C Roos (DA) stated that he had been attempting to catch the attention of the Chairperson but the hand raising button had not worked. He referred to the matter regarding Ms Khanyile and the intention of Ms Legwase to approach the Ethics Committee. Seeing as advice had been received that Ms Khanyile was entitled to express her opinion, he suggested that Ms Legwase be requested to withdraw her complaint to the Ethics Committee. It would be a waste of the Committee’s time.
Mr M Chabane (ANC) suggested that the matter could be addressed after the IEC had presented and left the meeting.
The Chairperson indicated that he would not be discussing that matter any further as it had been resolved in respect of the Committee and what he was able to do.
He was aware that the IEC was a Chapter 9 institution but the Department of Home Affairs was the body to which any court ruling referred when there was an issue and hence the Committee always required the Ministry of Home Affairs to attend meetings where the IEC was presenting so that the ministry could be privy to the discussions.
Opening remarks by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs
Mr Njabulo Nzuza, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, offered the apologies of the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, who was unable to attend the meeting as he had to attend to other official Home Affairs business. He stated that the Independent Electoral commission (IEC) would provide a briefing for the Committee on its preparedness for the 2021 local government elections.
Briefing on readiness of the IEC to conduct Local Government elections in 2021
Mr Glen Mashinini, Chairperson, IEC, introduced the delegation. He was accompanied by the Deputy Chairperson, Commissioner Janet Love, and Commissioners Dr Nomsa Masuku, Mr Mosotho Moepya and Judge Dhaya Pillay. The Chief Electoral Officer, Sy Mamabolo, was on leave but Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Masego Sheburi, would make the presentation on the operational details.
Mr Mashinini informed the Committee that the IEC was already in process of preparing for the 2021 elections. Elections had to take place within 90 days of expiry of the current term. The earliest possible date for Local Government Elections (LGE) 2021 is 04 August 2021 and the latest date would be 01 November 2021. The date of the election would be proclaimed by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs after consultation with the IEC.
The Municipal Demarcation Board had to consider the boundaries but, for the coming election, there were no changes to outer municipal boundaries; the only changes were to ward boundaries. He explained that there had been delays in the ward demarcation programme owing to the impact of Covid-19 on the consultation process. Nevertheless, there was still time to complete the process. However, any further delays would have a knock-on effect on the IEC processes.
The IEC had made huge progress in obtaining the addresses of voters. The registration of voters’ addresses was progressing well and would continue even at the voting stations. There were 26,5 million registered voters. 24.1 million or 91% had complete addresses; 4% had a potentially incomplete address but could be rural addresses; 5% had no address at all and those people were largely in informal settlements in high density provinces and former Homeland areas. The one million incomplete addresses were being checked as they might be correct despite not having street numbers, etc. if the persons were located in rural areas. About 1.2 million voters had not yet submitted addresses. A particular concern was the youth registration gap. The IEC was also aware that traditionally there was a lower rate of participation in LGEs but there had been a rising trend to 57% turnout at the last LGE. The IEC was aiming for a continuation of the trend.
The new voting device would work in real time and therefore ensure that there were no duplicate votes. The device would replace the zip zap device.
Mr Mashinini added that the great unknown risk ahead of the elections was the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Masego Sheburi, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, stated that the date of the election remained unknown but it was known that the elections must take place within 90 days of the expiry of the term. Therefore, the date for Local Government Elections (LGE) 2021 would be between 04 August 2021 and 01 November 2021. Voting would occur on a Wednesday. Voting day would be preceded by special voting days. The IEC was targeting registration and would arrange two voter registration weekends ahead of LGE 2021. However, the financial constraints in the country put those voter registration weekends at risk. The IEC would also facilitate online voter registration and look at other ways of registering voters. The key assumption was that the timetable for preparations for the elections should not be less than 86 days.
Those who were registered on the voters’ roll but without an address would be entitled to vote but would have to follow a different process in order to guarantee that it accorded with the election code of being free and fair. That would require an amendment to the legislation. The Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA) had implications for the IEC which would have to remove certain information when the voters’ roll was made public. Legislation would have to be amended to protect the personal information of voters by requiring the CEO to redact certain personal information of voters on the roll made available to contestants and to remove entitlement of any person to a segment of the voters’ roll. The Bill had been finalised with the Department of Home Affairs and would soon begin the parliamentary process.
Mr Sheburi summarised the situation as follows: planning and progress was on track to ready the Electoral Commission for an election as from the earliest possible date. Critical success factors were
- The adherence to timelines by the Municipal Demarcation Board.
- Success in linking a voter’s address to a ward of registration.
- Positive procurement outcomes for the Voter Management Device.
- The anticipation and mitigation of the impact of Covid-19 on conditions for free and fair elections.
Mr Mashinini thanked the Chairperson and the Committee. He noted that the technology had enabled the IEC to have its entire management at the meeting, including Sy Mamabolo who had joined online.
The Chairperson thanked the IEC and invited Committee Members to offer comments or ask questions.
Mr Dyantyi thanked the IEC for the presentation. However, he was unhappy with the work of the IEC. He started with the 1.1 million voters with partial address and the 1.2 million voters with no address. He was not interested in the 91% that did have addresses; it was those without any or those without full addresses that were his concern. The IEC had given a vague indication of where those voters were, such as in informal settlements in Gauteng. He wanted an indication, or in writing later, of those without addresses in each province and in which areas in each province. Political parties needed to know where the challenges were in order to assist IEC in registering voters, including their age.
He said that the IEC had told them who had registered but he wanted to know how many eligible voters had not registered. There was the problem because they queue on election day. It seemed that the IEC had not done any work in that regard and it was important that the matter was attended to. The next point of call was the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to ensure that the people had identity documents. That was why he wanted details. What were the IEC’s plans to go about registering those people?
Mr Dyantyi wanted to know more about the new voting device so that the Committee could exercise oversight. What were the timelines in respect of the new device? When was the tender advertised? When would the suppliers be appointed? At what point would the device be operational? He wanted to know so that Committee could punch holes in the plan if it didn’t work, well ahead of the elections.
He also wanted to focus on those issues that were in the control of the IEC. He wanted to take out the excuse of Covid and of waiting for the Demarcation Board and address issues such as the perennial problem of IEC capacity. In each and every election that was a problem. That issue had to be resolved by the IEC. The recruitment process was expected to start in January, but why only start in January in the new normal of Covid-19? What about the new voting device? When would that be ready? He was glad that the online registration was being considered as it was cost effective. When would the IEC share the information about that process? Why had the IEC not shared the information with the Committee in the meeting? Had it started? The IEC referred to the two weekends of registration. The IEC had turned the two weekends into the start of registration and that resulted in a stampede over the two weekends.
Mr Dyantyi asked how the IEC was collaborating with other registration processes. In two months, the Department of Social Development (DSD) had registered over 4.5 million people for the R350 pay-outs? That was a new intake but the people did not have to stand in queues. How was the IEC collaborating with other state institutions such as DSD, DHA and the SA Revenue Service, etc.?
He added that there were 109 wards where there was still work to be done in 8 provinces. Which municipalities were affected and which wards? That would help DHA and political parties.
The Chairperson requested Members not to repeat questions that had already been asked.
Ms Legwase asked why only two weekends were allocated for voter registration. Why could the IEC not have a continuous process of registration to avoid confusion? Mr Sheburi had spoken about an investigation into incomplete addresses. What would happen if the voters were not reached? Why was the IEC only now investigating those people? Had they not voted previously?
Mr Lekota expressed concern about the status of the Electoral Act. The Constitutional Court had ruled that the Electoral Act was null and void because it was inconsistent with the Constitution [It is declared that the Electoral Act 73 of 1998 is unconstitutional to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures only through their membership of political parties]. How was the IEC going to go about conducting an election with an unconstitutional Act? The Constitutional Court had said that it gave Parliament 24 months to correct the legislation so that an election could be conducted. All the things that had been done until that point were clearly inconsistent with the law.
The Chairperson said he knew that Mr Lekota was very experienced in politics and knew that when the court said something was not valid, it was not entirely invalid. It was an important point but the court would say that sections 1, 2, 3 were invalid without invalidating the entire Act. He presumed that the IEC would clarify the issue in its response.
Mr M Tshwaku (EFF) said that the IEC had not touched on the current pandemic and what would happen if the pandemic was prolonged. The IEC had previously spoken on: “Voting during Covid Times” but now it was speaking as if the pandemic would go away. The peak was projected for September and there would be by-elections in November. Also, what if the pandemic went on until the following year and impacted on preparations, campaigns, putting structures on the ground to do mass work and that had to start a year beforehand. If there could not be proper canvassing, would it not impact on the outcome of free and fair elections? Door-to-door campaigns were high contact activities. Planning should be linked to a scientific understanding of the pandemic.
He approved of the online registration. He would be pleased if it stopped double voting because that had been a problem with zip zaps that had not worked. The state of readiness documents spoke about sanitising against Covid-19 but there was ethanol in hand sanitisers, which was a cleaning agent, and that could cause a problem with the ink on the hand as the sanitiser could remove the ink. The person could double vote.
Mr Tshwaku asked the IEC for its view on the combining of the national and provincial elections so that there was enough time for preparation. The election could be postponed as a vaccination could take two years. Was it possible? What was the main issue of not postponing the following year’s elections? The cost was about R1.6 billion an election. Would there not be a cost saving if the two elections were conducted at the same time?
Mr Tshwaku asked about the processes of the Demarcation Board. The Board still needed do conduct public participation processes to allow people to comment. Was it not likely that the date for the submission of the voting districts would not be met? What was the state of the legislative processes? He proposed that consideration be given to combining the elections. Maybe the talk had to be about being better prepared.
He asked how Covid-19 going to affect the elections in respect of social distancing. For example, if a party agent had to do social distancing, how could a party agent do oversight when he or she was two metres away? He requested that the IEC clarify those issues.
Ms Khanyile commended the IEC on getting the 4 million addresses but stated that the 1 million outstanding addresses were still a problem. She noted that since the onset of the pandemic, everyone was meeting on Zoom and other virtual platforms. Would it be possible for people to vote online to prevent postponing the election as she was against postponing the election? She asked about the two days of special voting. Would the party agents be tested for Covid-19 before they went out to the voters? It would be vulnerable people voting on the two special days and party agents should not go into homes.
She assumed screening would take place when a person went to vote. What if a person had a high temperature? Would the person be permitted to vote before going home? What would that mean for voting? Would the voting site have to be sanitised? If so, that would take time. That would mean that approximately three days would be required to conclude voting. Could the budget of the IEC cover that?
Ms Khanyile wanted the Demarcation Board to brief the Committee. The previous year, while conducting oversight at the IEC, Members had had a number of queries about voting districts, especially in the rural areas.
She agreed that the youth vote was important. The IEC had noted that many young voters had not registered. What was the IEC’s plan to get young people to register and to participate in voting? She had concerns about the voter management devices. She suggested when the voting devices were ready, the IEC should bring the devices to the Portfolio Committee so that the Members could test them before the elections. The IEC could not pick up problems after the voting had taken place. Members were registered voters so they could use their own details to test the devices. Lastly, she asked how the IEC dealt with informal settlements as most residents there did not have addresses.
Ms L Tito (EFF) stated that she had been covered by the EFF and Mr Dyantyi.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) noted the good work of the IEC, despite the challenges, especially in collecting 91% of the addresses. She understood that it was not the remit of the IEC to make a decision regarding the combining of local, provincial and national elections but she was interested in the view of the IEC on combining elections. Was it something that the IEC would be in favour of? Had there been any discussions with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs or the Minister of Home Affairs in the matter?
Ms van der Merwe agreed with the proposals regarding online voting. The Committee needed to underscore the need to get details of the online voter mechanism. She presumed that the IEC would do online voter registration. As Ms Khanyile had said, there was a need to focus on young people. What would the IEC be doing different to target young people? She added that the shocking state of corruption at local government level might be a deterrent and make people reluctant to vote. A lot of SAs might be unwilling to participate in the process. How did the IEC intend dealing with voter apathy?
She suggested that voter education take place at schools and asked whether the IEC had approached the Minister for Basic Education to suggest that voter education became part of the school curriculum so that young people understood the processes. The communications strategy was another concern. When did the IEC intend to launch the communications campaign? There was a need to get going sooner rather than later. The SABC could start running voter education platforms, television or radio, especially as so many people were still at home all day. In the light of the strengthened digital platforms, Ms van der Merwe asked if the IEC was planning to approach government regarding a need to provide guidance for digital platforms in the election.
Mr Roos thanked the IEC for a comprehensive presentation. He was largely covered by his colleagues but he had a question about the geo-coding of the addresses. There was the geo-coding framework which was pretty much the addresses of every South African that was engaged with by StatsSA. Would the two sets of geo-coding data be combined so that there could be some sort of a check and balance? Was there an engagement to ensure that the geo-coding would be sustained beyond the initial project as new dwellings were added on both sides?
Ms Molekwa agreed that the Portfolio Committee should meet with the MDB before the Board presented to the IEC. She was particularly interested in the hotspot areas such as Vhuwani and Matatiele. It was possible that Parliament could intervene, if necessary, to make sure that a free and fair election took place without any interruptions.
Mr M Chabane (ANC) noted that Mr Dyantyi had indicated what the Committee needed from the IEC in the next interacting session. Members had to interact with what was supposed to happen as part of the process in preparing for the local government elections. In the Committee’s last meeting with IEC, the IEC had given a detailed brief on the realignment of work in the event that Covid-19 should impact on the work of the IEC. That presentation should be linked to the current presentation. That would respond to some of the realignment issues.
He noted that the court judgement imposed a serious realignment on the work of the IEC and its programme, in particular, the operations highlighted by his colleagues and the Committee would need the IEC to give a detailed plan of how it would respond to some of the areas impacted by the judgement. The Voters Act that was considered by the court reflected on the status of the MPs.
Mr Lekota might have asked a complex question but the legislature had to move faster to address operational issues.
Mr Chabane recognised that financial constraints might require the IEC to move towards combining local and national elections. The IEC should advise on the impact were such a decision to be made.
He had requested the IEC to respond in the last meeting but he understood that there was an appetite by the IEC to allow a person with no registration to vote. In previous elections, people had been bussed to wards where they were not registered in order to boost the results of a certain political party in that ward. What motivated the IEC to allow people to allow people to vote who were not registered? He was seeking clarity on the IEC’s processes. He agreed that the Bill had to be processed which would define the role of political parties in the coming local government elections. The IEC and the Committee had to move faster.
Mr Mashinini appreciated the questions and comments and asked how much time the IEC had for the response.
The Chairperson informed him that the IEC could provide written questions, where possible, but some questions required discussion. He reminded the Committee that the IEC would be returning the following week.
Mr Mashinini stated that he would request his fellow Commissioners to participate by responding to specific questions and then the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer could respond to the operational issues. Some questions would be noted as it was an ongoing process and the IEC was taking inputs into consideration.
Mr Moepya stated that the Electoral Act was not unconstitutional as a whole but only as far as it allowed adult SA citizens to participate in national and provincial elections only through political parties, i.e. citizens could not stand for election as independent candidates. The rest of the Act was constitutional. There was nothing that applied to the local government elections which took place under the Local Government Municipal Electoral Act. No aspect of that Act had been found any aspect unconstitutional.
The problem with voter registration was not a lack of opportunities to register. The IEC was available for registration and kept adding opportunities to register. Currently voters could update their details online and there would be online registration. Ms van der Merwe had touched on the elephant in the room which had to be addressed. When democracies matured, one of the things was that people engaged with democracy rigidly. People contested the tenets of democracy and went to court or refused to vote. As Ms van der Merwe had suggested, issues arising from corruption in municipalities and poor service delivery might well persuade people from voting. Already in one area, Vhuwani, the IEC had been told the community had refused to vote if there was no change to the demarcation of the area. Registration and voting was not compulsory in SA. No one could be forced to vote. It was a democratic process; people could choose to vote or not. The IEC encouraged people to vote. Online registration would be taking place but people who objected still had to have an opportunity to object and that had to be arranged.
In respect of addresses, Mr Moepya stated that SA was a developing country and there were people who simply did not have an address or a home but that did not strip those people of their right to vote. The Constitutional Court conceded that there would such cases. Homeless people moved around but had to be registered in the ward where they spent most of their time. That was why the address lists would never be 100% complete. If a whole village fell into one district, the name of the village was sufficient as an address, but it would be a problem if the village fell into two voting districts and that was what the IEC would look into. There were issues regarding addresses that needed to be looked at differently. If there were objections, those would be dealt with. He needed more time to address the Portfolio Committee on that matter. There were also other issues that needed to be clarified for Members.
Ms Janet Love, Deputy Board Chairperson, IEC, addressed the questions on digital media. It was critical for the IEC to have a balance between freedom of speech and social media that was not manipulative or provided misinformation. Members would be aware that in 2019, the IEC drew up an additional set of measures to make people more aware of being responsible in the social media space and an online reporting process to ensure a much more rapid follow-up. That reporting system was integrated with the IEC’s other reporting systems. The IEC committed itself to a similar process for the local government elections. The details would be available towards the end of the year.
She added that the IEC’s province was around code of conduct and during the specific periods of an election therefore legal mechanisms to address concerns about social media were not the domain of the IEC. The social media problems arose over a much longer period of time and required a multi-pronged approach across several government departments.
Ms Love noted that combined elections were first and foremost a policy decision, i.e. it was in the hands of the Portfolio Committee and the Committee could come up with a list of pros and cons in respect of such elections. An advantage of a combined election was that the IEC and political parties focused all their efforts on one day every five years which would reduce costs enormously for both the IEC and for parties. The disadvantage was that a political party could engage with its constituencies only once every five years. The IEC could not take the decision but the key challenge would be in terms of time frames: national and provincial elected representatives were in office until 2024. If local government elections took place in 2021, it would again be for five years and the terms of office would again not coincide. The idea of extending or shortening a period of election would be difficult to do once an election had taken place as that would fall foul of the constitution. Once a policy decision had been taken, it would be the issue of the alignment of timeframes that would be another policy debate. If that decision were taken, the IEC could engage in the debates.
Dr Masuku stated that the IEC was working with the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The topic of electoral activities was already in the curriculum. The IEC had an active ongoing engagement with DBE and Higher Education. Regarding the plans of the IEC in respect of the oncoming election, she asked permission to make a written submission on the plans.
Mr Sheburi believed that the Commissioners had adequately dealt with the matters for verbal response. He assured the Chairperson that any outstanding questions would be answered in writing.
Mr Mashinini said that he had noted the requests by Mr Dyantyi and the requirement for a display of the voting device as suggested by Ms Khanyile, as well as the questions and issues raised by Mr Tshwaku regarding the virus and the online voting. In response to Mr Roos’s question, he said that he could confirm that the IEC had ongoing collaboration with a number of state institutions, including StatsSA around the issue of dwellings and physical addresses, but he would reply in full in the written response. He would provide details in response to Mr Chabane’s questions, but he assured Mr Chabane that the people who were allowed to vote were not people who were not registered at all and there were mechanisms that the IEC utilised to facilitate that process.
Mr Mashinini thanked everyone and assured the Committee that the IEC had a forum in which it met with political parties and the issues coming up in Parliament were actually issues that had been raised in that forum. The IEC had a multi-pronged approach regarding its engagement with elected representatives and their parties.
The Chairperson recognised the importance of the work done by the IEC and thanked the Commission for the work done. The elections formed the cornerstone of democracy. He invited the Deputy Minister to wrap up.
Deputy Minister Final remarks
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs said that the Department of Home Affairs supported the IEC in every way it could, including the provision of identity documents, and would continue to do so. He was covered by the presentation and responses of the IEC.
The Chairperson appreciated the attendance and the contribution of the Deputy Minister.
Consideration of the Adjusted Budget Vote
The Chairperson stated that he would take the document as read and requested the Committee staff to take the Committee through the recommendations.
Committee staff member Adam Salmon read through the recommendations on the final page.
- The Committee commended the efforts of the DHA in targeting its significant Special Adjustment Budget reduction in such a way as to minimize the impact on service delivery.
- The Minister should continue to continue balancing the saving of lives and the need for protecting livelihoods in its plans.
- The DHA should present it revised Annual Performance Plan to the Committee.
- The IEC should consider online and conventional media alternatives to compensate for loss of face to face outreach programmes.
- The IEC should prepare a briefing on different policy options to implement the Constitutional Court Ruling in the matter of the New Nation Movement and others vs the IEC and others.
- The IEC should brief the Committee with the Municipal Demarcation Board on the completion of the demarcation process.
- The GPW should keep the Committee informed of changes to its plans based on revised reductions in its revenue from services to the DHA and others.
He noted that there were not too many contentious issues.
Mr J McGluwa (DA) stated that his colleague, Mr Roos, would respond on the matter.
Ms van der Merwe was happy with the report.
Mr Roos made a technical correction: In 5.3, “it” should be “its”. Why, in 5.2, did one have to choose between lives and livelihoods? Both were important in every decision. He noted that the Department of Home Affairs had lost R560 million in the Adjusted Budget. When considering the budget, the Committee had been under the impression that the money was going to Covid response but had discovered that R2.5 billion was going to e-tolls. The Department of Home Affairs had had a five-year plan that had been disrupted and he believed that the Committee should express its concern about that.
Mr Chabane supported the report. He assumed that the point on the IEC would change now that a report had been received on the local government elections.
All other Members were covered.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee adopted the report. He noted that some of the points, such as that raised by Mr Roos, were issues for the debate on the Adjusted Budget. On the basis of the number of people who had spoken in favour of the report, he concluded that the Committee was adopting it.
Mr Roos indicated that the report had to be adopted “as amended”, i.e. including the technical amendment, the update of the IEC presentation and the re-wording of the balance between lives and livelihoods.
The Chairperson agreed that the report was adopted with amendments.
Mr Roos stated that the DA reserved its right to adopt the report until after its caucus meeting.
Ms Tito stated that the EFF also reserved right to consult its caucus.
The Chairperson advised the Members to tell their caucuses that the reports had to be adopted at the meeting. He requested that the Members encourage their caucuses to adopt the report as it had been well debated.
The Chairperson added that he had sent a letter regarding the IEC Commissioners’ salaries to all Members. The matter was for discussion and concurrence.
The Committee Secretary suggested that the Chairperson should table the letter and it could be discussed the following week.
The Chairperson stated that the letter had been tabled when it had been circulated. Was it necessary to concur or note?
The Secretary suggested that the Committee should discuss and concur with the President. In other Committees, i.e. the Portfolio Committee on Communication and the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Members generally concurred with the President’s recommendations.
The Chairperson requested Members to read the minutes as the Committee would adopt the minutes the following week.
Mr Chabane requested that the oversight report on Government Printing Works also be deferred to the following week as that would give Members time to consider the report. Were there any timeframes in relation to the President’s correspondence?
The Chairperson wished to discuss the President’s letter. He stated that in the past, the President would have written to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services but there was a new and more transparent way of doing things. From what he could see, there were no financial or legal issues at stake.
Ms van der Merwe stated that she had not been able to read the letter as her parliamentary email was not working. She requested that the matter be deferred to the following week.
Mr McGluwa concurred as he, too, had not seen the letter. He seconded Ms van der Merwe’s proposal.
Mr Dyantyi stated that he had no problem in holding the letter over to the following meeting but he concurred with the President.
The Chairperson noted that in a democracy, the majority gave direction and guidance. He tabled the letter and would seek concurrence in the next meeting.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their cordial participation and the respect with which Members treated the meetings and he wanted them to keep it up without fear or favour. He also thanked the 230 people who had joined the meeting. Online meetings facilitated Parliament’s public work in a more transparent and accountable way and he appreciated all the emails that the Committee was receiving.
The meeting was adjourned.
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