Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 29 May 2018)
Executive Undertakings made by the: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (during the Question and Answer Session of NCOP on 20 June 2017)
Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Basic Education (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 14 June 2018)
In this virtual meeting, the Committee was supposed to receive a briefing on the Executive Undertaking made by the Minister of Higher Education and Training
Members raised concern about the continued absence of the Minister of the Department of Higher Education and Training and insisted that he must make himself available at the next meeting. The Committee also complained about the late submission of documents from the Department.
The Deputy Minister informed the Committee that the report which was due to be presented was not of good quality. In addition, he informed the Committee that he had only seen the report the previous day. The Committee expressed their disappointment with the Department and agreed to give it an opportunity to present at a later date. The Committee cautioned the Department to take the Committee’s oversight work in a much more serious manner.
The progress report on the Executive Undertakings made by the: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 20 June 2017) was adopted.
The progress report on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Basic Education (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 14 June 2018) was adopted.
The Committee affirmed that the Committee should be the last resort for petitions. It also noted that there is a petitions backlog in municipalities and provinces and agreed to communicate with the speakers of Provincial Legislatures about this.
The Chairperson expressed her condolences to the passing of a member who was serving on the Committee, Ms M Mmola (ANC). The meeting was the first meeting since lockdown had started. As the work of this Committee was not rendered essential, the Committee’s resuming of duties means that there may be huge backlog of work to be finished.
The Committee had raised concern that the Minister of Higher Education has a record of not making himself available at the committee even when the Committee requested him to do so. His absence is making it difficult for Committee members do their work. The Committee always made sure that it liaised well with the department, but the Minister always gives apologies for his absence one day before the scheduled meeting. Sometimes those absences cost the Committee financially because of the preparatory work the Committee had to do.
The Chairperson also raised the concern of the Department’s late submission of its presentation documents. Normally, documents should be sent to members at least 7 days before the scheduled meeting date. For the presentation documents of this meeting, the Committee had only received the documents earlier today. She informed the Department that it would appear before the Committee on 16 September. The Minister was expected to attend and the Committee expected the documents to be submitted at least a few days before the meeting starts so that members have time to prepare.
The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that no apologies were received from members and officials.
Deputy Minister’s remark
Mr Buti Manamela, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Science and Technology, informed the Committee that he was personally not satisfied with the quality of the report. He only became aware of this meeting the previous day and only had time to go through the report yesterday. He believed that it would be unfair for the Department to present a report that was of bad quality. He made two suggestions: the Department could present the current report and submit revised version later or it could not present today and return to present at a later date.
Mr T Dodovu (ANC; North West) asked when the Department had received the Committee’s request to appear before it for the purpose of this meeting. This meeting was for members to engage on the executive undertakings for the past two years. It is a very important session. Given the position of the higher education sector in South Africa, it is very important for the Minister and the Department to be involved.
Mr G Michalakis (DA; Free State) agreed with Dodovu. He expressed the concern that since this Committee was forced to take a back seat for the last few months due to lockdown, it is now burdened with an overflow of petitions from constituencies that address serious concerns. He was worried that those petitions would be further delayed by the delay of the Department. He suggested that the Committee find a solution to deal with the Department but it should not affect the Committee’s processing of all the petitions that have been delayed for far too long.
The Committee Secretary explained that the invitation to ask the Minister and the Department to come to the Committee was sent out earlier in August. The Department acknowledged the receipt of the invitation. The delay was not from the Committee’s side.
The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister to explain why it took so long for him to be informed of the meeting.
Deputy Minister Manamela responded that the concern was on the quality of the report which was due to be presented. He only had time to engage the report the previous day. He acknowledged that the fault is certainly not on the Committee’s side but from the Department’s side. He already had a discussion with the Director-General in relation to this. He assured the Committee that the report would meet the standard of the Committee should they be allowed to present later.
The Chairperson suggested the Department return to make the presentation later. She expressed her huge disappointment with the Department. The Committee would continue to communicate with the Department to determine a date when it can present the report.
Mr Dodovu warned the Department not to use this returning tactic as a pattern since this was the second time that it is not cooperating with the Committee. The items that should have been discussed in today’s meeting were very important.
Ms C Visser (DA; North West) commented that it was an embarrassment for the Department to come to the Committee with a report that was of no value. The Minister must be held accountable for this. She added that the Minister must attend and the presence of the Deputy Minister was not enough.
Mr Dodovu said if Minister could not be present, then the presence of the Deputy Minister should be sufficient because the Deputy is quite competent to deputize.
The Chairperson informed the Department that the Committee will not accept Directors-General to present those undertakings because ultimately it was the ministers and their deputies who were accountable for those undertakings.
Consideration and adoption of the Progress Report on the Executive Undertakings made by the: Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 20 June 2017
Ms S Shaikh (ANC; Limpopo) was satisfied with the report.
Mr Dodovu was also satisfied with the report. But he raised a concern about whether the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had addressed all those issues mentioned in the report. The undertaking was made four years ago, but the Department had still not accomplished what it had said it would achieve. He suggested the Committee adopt the report but make a note on that and asked the Department to return to account.
Mr Michalakis referred to paragraph 6.3 in the report and suggested that it be amended. He advised that the Department should provide the statistics to the Committee instead of the House.
Furthermore, he suggested that this Committee and the Select Committee on Land should jointly oversee this report.
The Chairperson summed up all members’ points.
The adoption of the report received majority support. The report was adopted.
Consideration and adoption of the Progress Report on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Basic Education (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 14 June 2018)
The adoption of the report received majority support. The report was adopted.
The Chairperson commented that it has been difficult to deal with petitions during the lockdown period. The Committee had to establish partnerships with municipalities to start with petitions. Since it was now back to work, it will be focusing on petitions.
The Chairperson reminded Members that when dealing with petitions the public must exhaust all levels of petitions at the municipal and provincial levels before petitions are deal with by this Committee. The National Councils of Province is the last line of petition. This is a standardised process to be followed.
Mr S Zandamela (EFF; Mpumalanga) said the Committee should let their constituencies know that the it has done all it could do but it was the fault of the Department of Higher Education and Training that caused the delay of the petitions.
Mr Michalakis agreed with the Chairperson’s view that the Committee should be the last resort for petitions. However, he has in the past picked up a pattern that some constituents ignored that process because municipal and provincial legislatures’ backlog causing petitions to sit there for months or even years. It is not ideal to add to this Committee’s workload, but this Committee also cannot ignore those individuals. He suggested the Committee may need to take up the backlog at provincial legislatures.
He also wanted to know about the Committee’s backlog as well as the reasonable timeframe permitted to deal with petitions.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Michalakis. She said that the Committee needs to communicate with the speakers of Provincial Legislatures.
The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that there are currently 5 petitions outstanding.
The Chairperson said that those petitions could be processed before the Committee’s December holiday.
The Committee Researcher reminded the Committee that it still needed a content advisor.
The meeting was adjourned.
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