Report No. 37 of 2018/19 on an investigation into the illegal conversion of goods carrying Toyota Quantum panel vans into passenger carrying minibus taxis to transport members of the public for reward
The Committee met on a virtual platform to discuss the Public Protector’s report on an investigation into panel vans that had been illegally converted into passenger-carrying taxis, with the Minister of Transport providing details of progress with the taxi recapitalisation programme.
The remedial action that was prescribed in the report was the impounding and scrapping of the illegally converted vehicles. Owners of the vehicles would be compensated with an amount of cash. The Minister informed the Committee that the scrapping allowance had been increased from the initial R124 000 to R129 700.
The Department of Transport highlighted a number of challenges that were hindering the recapitalisation process. There were vehicles that were supposed to qualify for scrapping, but did not have operating licences, and were not roadworthy and were on the roads illegally. There had also been an investigation into the manipulation of the Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System (eNaTiS), which had been used to falsify registration and other data. Some vehicle testing stations had had to be closed down after fraud investigations. There had not always been full cooperation from the taxi associations.
The report received a lot of backlash from Committee Members, who focused on two main aspects. One was that the vehicle manufacturers that had participated in the illegal conversions had not been called to account or punished. The other was that the proposed remedial action – R129 000 for vehicles that had cost significantly more – was not fair, as it would destroy owners’ businesses.
They were also not impressed by the length of time it had taken to put the report together.
It was proposed that a sub-committee be formed in order to resolve the situation. An agreement on this proposal could not be reached, so the matter would be discussed further at the next meeting.
The Chairperson outlined the agenda for the day. There would be a presentation by the Department of Transport on the implementation of the remedial action of the Public Protector’s report on the systematic investigation into the illegal conversion of goods-carrying Toyota Quantum panel vans into passenger-carrying minibus taxis.
Mr Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Transport, said that on March 27 2019, the Public Protector (PP) had issued a report on the complaint about the illegal conversion of Toyota Quantum panel vans into passenger-carrying minibus taxis. The report had prescribed a number of remedial actions to be taken by the Minister, the Director-General (DG) and other institutions and individuals.
The issues dealt with in the PP’s report were central to the agenda of the planned national taxi kgotla, which would be held to discuss the blueprint of a taxi industry that was formalised and empowered, and subject to the rule of law through effective regulation. They had committed to reimagine the taxi recapitalisation programme (TRP) and ensure that it became a game changer in the economics of the industry. Issues of safety would receive equal attention. Their efforts to implement the PP’s remedial actions would be further boosted by the outcomes of the taxi kgotla.
Minister Mbalula said his predecessor, Dr Blade Nzimande, had approved the retrofitment treatment process of the 2 353 identified illegally converted panel vans, based on a process of testing by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). This process was overseen by a technical team made up of representatives from the taxi industry, financial institutions, the National Automobile Association of South Africa (NAASA), the SABS, the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards (NRCS) and the Department of Transport.
The vehicles identified for retrofitment treatment were second hand, which meant that the manufacturer’s approval was not required in terms of the National Road Traffic Act of 1996. The process itself had to be overseen and certified by the NRCS. It was important to note that not all of the affected vehicle owners responded to the exemption granted through the retrofitment treatment process. At the end of the window period, only 436 of the vehicles had been retrofitted. When the Public Protector ended its investigation, it was noted that despite the delay, the Department had already taken steps and had removed 1 986 illegally converted panel vans off the road because of the retrofitment process.
Data on the affected balance of vehicles was taken by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and reviewed by Taxi Recapitalisation South Africa (TRSA), a service provider contracted to undertake scrapping of the taxi vehicles. The data mining process was completed, and 1 917 vehicles were found to need attention. Only 1 226 of the vehicles still had operating licences attached to them. An operating licence was a prerequisite to qualify a vehicle for scrapping. A reconsolidation exercise was completed, and it was confirmed that a total of 1 917 vehicles still qualified for scrapping, provided they were linked to a valid operating licence. Operators had been contacted and advised on eligibility.
Minister Mbalula said that the Department had requested to proceed with the process of scrapping in exchange for a scrapping allowance. The TRSA would continue to accept applications to establish compliance to qualify for scrapping. They had further confirmed that 1 226 vehicles had operating licences, qualifying those vehicles for scrapping. Relevant operators were advised of their eligibility for scrapping and the process they should follow. Once approved, the vehicles would be scrapped with the operator’s consent and a scrapping allowance would be paid. The scrapping allowance was R129 700, an increase from R124 000.
So far, the TRSA had received 478 of the vehicles for scrapping, and 382 operators had already been paid their scrapping allowance. The Director General (DG) would make a comprehensive presentation dealing with all the issues and responding to the questions the Committee posed to the Department.
He said that once he had become the Minister of Transport, he had speeded up the process, and it would be speeded up even more in the coming months now that the interruption caused by COVID-19 had passed. It had taken too long to get non-roadworthy vehicles in the taxi industry off the road.
He had visited a scrapping centre. The taxi industry had not come, because they confused the PP’s remedial action implementation with the broader question about recapitalisation. Recapitalisation of the taxi industry had been a big issue since its introduction. As a result, re-imagining of taxi recapitalisation would be at the top of the agenda for the taxi indaba. Hopefully, there would be a resolution by the end of the indaba, but the Public Protector’s remedial action was not negotiable.
Overcoming implementation challenges
Mr Alec Moemi, DG, Department of Transport (DoT), said it was important to note that there was now a coordinated approach. The technical team was comprised of representatives of the taxi industry, financial institutions, NAAMSA, the SABS, the NRCS and the Department. Sometimes there were challenges with the representatives of the taxi industry, where the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) sometimes attended meetings and sometimes did not. This created challenges in coordination.
What were they going to do about the vehicles that were supposed to qualify for scrapping but did not have operating licences? The current policy, plus what was gazetted as a condition in the framework through the Appropriation Bill, clearly stated the operating licence was essential. One therefore needed to look at the situation carefully, because the bulk of the remainder of the non-roadworthy vehicles on the roads qualified for scrapping and for the scrapping allowance.
The owners and operators needed to come forward and surrender these vehicles, but a major challenge was that many did not have a valid operating licence. It was not only a policy challenge because once it was opened up, one creates precedents for a number of things. In the real TRP, the challenge was that these vehicles were on the roads illegally, but they did not have an operating licence.
The reconciliation of the database of vehicles that were originally marked in this regard had been completed, and they had confirmed that 1 916 of these vehicles still qualified for scrapping, but the provision of the valid operating licence remained a challenge. Valid operating licences were a challenge to the remedial action. They had been contacting specific operators and encouraging them to come forward and bring their vehicles for inspection.
They were also looking at the conversion, but operators had been unresponsive. They would continue to follow up on operators. Any of those vehicles found on the road would be impounded. They did not wish to create misery for operators by simply impounding vehicles, but they had to get rid of the unscrupulous operators who did not want to cooperate. Other operators had parked their vehicles and were negotiating scrapping, whereas they still did not have a licence. The initial scrapping allowance was R124 000, but it was now R129 700.
There had been an investigation into the manipulation of the Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System (eNaTiS). The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had been asked to widen the scope of their investigation into eNaTis. During the past week, a revision of the mandate had been discussed and negotiated with the SIU. The costs were huge. Together with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), more than R76 million had been spent, and this would continue to increase as the investigation continued. A lot had been achieved: Vehicles had been recovered, property had been taken back, and some amounts of cash had been recovered. Illegal vehicles would be disposed of, which would also recover some cash. It was important that Proclamation 37 of 2017 needed to accommodate the continuation of this process. They were aware that other cases had already been opened for prosecution.
A committee had been appointed for monitoring and evaluation, and had begun work. On the issue of the explanation that was required about the eNaTiS vehicle registration from start to finish, as well as the identification of the eleven departments, they had made a map and were looking at the entire eNaTiS system. It was an important system for the country, but it had been noted that since the addition of a number of modules to eNaTiS -- particularly each time one had competitive bidding for a specific thing one wanted -- a different company would come forward to do it.
The system needed to be looked into in detail, to map it afresh from a technological point of view. There were modules that needed upgrading, but there were also new things that had to be registered, tracked and incorporated. New licences that had come forward needed to be put into the eNaTiS system. They were still waiting for a response from the RTMC about the entire review process which they had been asked to do. Based on what the review said, they would incorporate everything that was required, including what was in the eNaTiS. There was an existing mindmap of the modules in eNaTiS, including number plate registrations, new licence discs, the registration of vehicles, the registration of owners and the addresses of those who have traffic fines.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) both used separate systems. The Western Cape (WC) used a separate system. These systems did communicate with each other at the surface level, but there were a number of things they wanted them to do that they were not doing. Having a common system in the future was being discussed, with special attention to the transport regulatory function. This spoke more to the issue of operating licences and their influence in the transport regulatory space.
The national DoT had done upgrades to the Operating Licence Administration System (OLAS), which was being considered as a fully fledged module of eNaTiS. Ideally, both systems would be reconfigured so that communication happened at all levels. KZN and the WC, in particular, had been encouraged to join eNaTiS and OLAS.
The National Public Transport Regulator (NPTR) had been revived and would administer affairs, as they had been given more teeth. The Public Transport Tribunal (PTT) had also been revived. Both the NPTR and the PTT would help deal with the identified backlogs.
A lot of work had been done to achieve progress with the vehicle testing station (VTS) anti-fraud and corruption programme. Most of the VTS’s that had been tracked down and closed had appealed. Some of the appeals had been finalised, while others remained closed. It was felt that others could be re-opened as they had ‘served their time,’ as it were, and had been shown to be compliant with re-issued plans. Some of them had had their licences stripped when it was discovered that they were manipulating eNaTiS to register the converted vehicles illegally.
They were now looking at a proclamation, whose effect would be to deal with the manipulation and declare that all the illegal vehicles would be impounded if not surrendered. This came after discussions with the NTA and the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO). They had intended to issue the proclamation by the end of March, but due to COVID-19 there had been a delay. There was a plan for it to be reissued.
A key question that the state must answer was what would happen to those who were willing to surrender the vehicles, but did not have operating licences. There were huge policy and financial implications.
The progress implementation report had been submitted to the Public Protector. The DoT remained committed to implementing the remedial actions recommended by the PP. The majority of the vehicles were not on the road, because people were holding on to them in the hope of cashing in with the TRP.
Mr L McDonald (ANC) asked how many of the 2 353 panel vans that had been illegally converted were initially sold to entities like companies, trusts, private companies or close corporations (cc’s), and if the value added tax (VAT) had been reclaimed. It seemed as if it was intentional, so that the VAT money could be claimed back and used to do the illegal converting. Of the 1 226 vehicles, how many of them currently had valid licence discs in South Africa? In the Public Protector’s report, it stated that Toyota had been aware and knew about the conversion of the taxis as far back as 2005. Toyota needed to come to the party and help pay for the TRP, especially for the vehicles that did not currently have valid permits.
In the Public Protector’s report, the SABS was also found to have done inadequate testing on those vehicles. How was the SABS going to compensate for the people who had died in accidents caused by these faulty vehicles? The SABS had certified these vehicles, and now there was no remedial action from them.
Ms N Nolutshungu (EFF) said it was evident that there had been a corrupt relationship. There was no way that the SABS, the NRCS, Toyota, SANTACO and the financial institutions had not colluded in some way. The SABS had been entrusted with quality assurance, but they had failed. The National Regulator and others were manipulating the system. It was mind-boggling to see that all the organs of the state had been in collusion with the financial institutions and Toyota South Africa. What had been done to ensure these actions were accounted for?
The Public Protector’s report spoke only of manipulation by the National Institute of Transport (NIT). The other people must also be held accountable. It seemed as if the Department had done only what had been recommended by the Public Protector, and overlooked the actions by the organs of the state. There was no way that these people could not be held accountable, because the people of South Africa had been put at risk. Some of the vehicles were still operating. It was clear this was a challenge that was not easy to deal with, but something definitely had to be done to ensure that everyone involved – Toyota South Africa, the NTA, SANTACO, the financial institutions and the organs of the state – was brought forward and held accountable.
Mr P Mey (FF+) said that his question had been asked by Ms Nolutshungu.
Mr K Sithole (IFP) said something disturbing had happened. In the report, Toyota had confirmed that they had not authorised any panel vans to be used as taxis. There had been no remedial action taken by Toyota. What legal action was the Department going to take against Toyota? Was there an exact number of the people who had died because of the illegal vehicles? It was important to know how many of the vehicles had been involved in accidents. In 2009, the Department had been aware of what was happening, but it had taken time for it to step in. They had got their information in 2009. Only after the Public Protector became involved had the Department stepped in. What was the reason for the Department’s delay?
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) said he appreciated the presentation, and the presence of the Minister. The presentation and comments were guided by the scope of the report, which was limited. A lot more should have been in the report. He stressed how disappointing it was. This was a revelation about eNaTiS, the integrity and safety of which had been commented on and asked about many times, particularly during the stages where they had to deal with court cases over the reluctance to transfer the system from Tasima to the RTMC.
Mr Hunsinger said that the question of how safe the system was, had been asked continuously. Had a full check been done? Were the firewalls and access commands protected? Now one was hearing that during that time, these systems were not protected, and it was not known that a vehicle’s field could simply be changed ‘over the counter,’ and that the person behind the counter had the ability to change a field if they wanted to. This was very serious and worrying because personal details, including bank accounts, could be accessed through the eNaTiS system. The integrity of eNaTiS had to be questioned seriously.
He reiterated his disappointment at everything that had happened, as well as what was in the report, which he thought was not detailed enough. What had been selected to be included in the report was disappointing. The illegal activity had begun in 2005. The complaint had happened seven years after that, in 2012. The report had been released seven years after that, in 2019. This meant that less than one page of the report was being produced per day over the years -- or the report was a lot more detailed, but it had been decided that a less detailed version would be released.
Mr Hunsinger referred to the Minister’s assertion that the refitment process was going to be part of the solution. His own investigations had looked into the refitment process. A few vehicles had been inspected. The refitment process certainly could not be regarded as a compulsory replacement for what should happen in terms of manufacturing standards and homologation processes. These were governed by the NRCS, which was the watchkeeper. Manufacturing and safety standards could not be ignored. The refitment process failed to be an adequate test in comparison to what happened in reality on the road. The tests had not been done at 120km per hour, with 16 passengers. The refitment process was a simple roll-over in a storeroom, where the vehicle was tipped and checked for structural defects. This was totally different from the daily, everyday experience. The refitment process was highly questionable and not acceptable.
Mr Hunsinger said the numbers were not clear. He suggested an audited list be made that showed the exact number of illegal vehicles and that were originally panel vans, instead of just looking at what one knew about and what one wanted to address in terms of historic numbers.
On a personal level, he did not regard impounding and scrapping vehicles as fair, as a business may be destroyed as a result. How could one ever think it was fair to impound a vehicle that someone had bought, not knowing that it was an illegal conversion? How could it be acceptable to replace a vehicle worth nearly R500 000 with R129 000?
Mr Hunsinger criticised the limited report again, and asked why Toyota was the only make of car to be spoken about. On 14 October 2019 and on 30 September 2019, Nissan had converted 40 ambulances and tried to register them in Mmabatho. In Durban, there had been an attempt to convert 70 Ford Ranger bakkies into transport for labourers. Luckily, these attempts had been intercepted and those vehicles could not be registered because there were law enforcement officers paying attention. The problem was not limited to Quantum vehicles, nor limited to taxis. The subject of ambulances had not been touched. It was very disappointing that the Public Protector had not mentioned the ambulances and the remedial action around that. How could this not be addressed at all, when any one of them may be transported in one of these ambulances? He was very disappointed in what was seen as important and worthy of being included in the report.
He could not simply complain while not offering something constructive. Rule 227 of the National Assembly clearly stated that a portfolio committee must deal with matters, but also deal with other matters that fell within its portfolio. It must have oversight. Point C under rule 227, sub-section one, states that one could investigate. In particular, with regard to rule 229, it was suggested that this portfolio seriously consider appointing a sub-committee to deal with all the matters raised.
Mr T Mabhena (DA) said that the matters brought up by Mr Hunsinger reflected the concerns of the DA. The converted panel vans had cost money, and had cost much more than R129 000. Operators had had to pay extra money for the conversion of the panel vans. Talking about corruption, there were many panel vans all over the place, and they were not being removed from the road. They continued to operate because when they got to roadblocks, they paid bribes.
Unfortunately, it was only the remedial action of the Public Protector that was being commented on as far as this report was concerned, which was very limited. Toyota had benefited massively. A lot of units had been moved over the years, but Toyota had seemingly been exonerated.
The elephant in the room was that SANTACO had a stake in taxi financing through a subsidiary, or an investment of SANTACO. He could guarantee that 90% of the converted taxis were moved and financed by taxi finances. Some of the banks did finance them, but the majority of them were through taxi finances. This explained that whenever a meeting took place, the NTA was the one that attended. SANTACO appeared not to attend these meetings. That was very telling. SANTACO knew that they had a hand in this entire matter. Why would they attend a meeting on a briefing that would ensure they were guilty?
Mr Mabhena responded to the DG’s question of what would happen to those who wanted to surrender their vehicles, but did not have an operating licence. He said that the Department was the state, and it needed to have a mechanism to ensure that these people were not left stranded. These people were breadwinners who needed to earn money for their families. The Department must come up with a mechanism to protect these people.
There were many taxis that had association stickers, but did not have operating licences. Maybe the Department could look into that. It should engage the taxi associations. A person needed a letter from a taxi association in order to buy a kombi, especially if taxi finances were going to be used. Therefore, taxi associations were also complicit in what happened. The taxi associations were SANTACO and, by association, the NTA was as well. The Public Protector’s report limited what could be done.
Minister Mbalula said that when he arrived at the DoT, he had asked these questions. He would not lie to the Committee or behave like a populist. He, with the Deputy Minister as his witness, had asked what happened to the companies who produced the panel vans. He had seen the Public Protector’s report, and he could not even explain the answer that he got from officials. It had been “wishy-washy.” did not want to accuse anybody -- it was his political responsibility to look into the issue.
He said that the Department did not have the authority or power to investigate. The SIU did investigations. Parliament also had the power to summon those companies. It was a serious injustice, not only for those who owned the panel vans, but also for the government, because a lot of money had been spent which could have been spent on the taxi industry for other serious projects. The Public Protector did not have the capacity to investigate this matter.
He agreed that it was up to him to do something. The root cause had to be dealt with, over and above this issue with the panel vans, and reported on to Parliament. It was not a matter of political point-scoring -- it was also a matter of negligence. What had the Department done to protect citizens from the panel vans? He had asked this question when he first came to the Department, but had not received sufficient convincing answers.
He had gone to the place where the vans were being destroyed. The taxi industry people had not joined him. He had asked what the problem was. He did not want to accuse anyone. There could be vested interests. At the end of the day, the government had to act to protect citizens.
Minister Mbalula said he agreed on money being given out to help people, but over and above that, they could not let go of the people who had manufactured the problem in the country. These people were not coming to the party. They were not even paying one cent. They were not saying they had made a mistake. Nobody had punished them. They were off the hook. The Public Protector’s report was the only thing available. What should happen to those who manufactured the panel vans and endangered the lives of ordinary South Africans? A response was needed.
He asked for a chance to take action, because he had not examined his options yet, except for the SIU. He was on top of implementing the Public Protector’s report. It was necessary to go beyond the report, including doing what Mr Hunsinger had mentioned, such as looking into Nissan.
He needed proper legal advice and proper undertakings from the Department and the Director General. The DoT would have to execute. Parliament would have to ensure that the issue did not fade away. Those people must be brought to book. It was not a matter of competition -- it had been a deliberate ploy by well-established companies in South Africa to allow specifications that were unlawful to be dispersed for the market. South Africans would ordinarily go for a cheaper deal, and that was what had happened. They had gone for a cheaper deal, buying the panel vans quickly, and many people had died.
He said that when a panel van got involved an accident, one should be very ashamed. He would make a commitment and be accountable. With his team, he would take steps that would make sure that these companies were brought to book. One could not frown at that. It would be a historical injustice to do so. They had flooded the market with the panel vans, which was not supposed to have been the case.
The Office of the Public Protector had done its duty. If there was anything else that was insufficient, it could be looked at. The recommendations and remedial action must be implemented. Even further steps would need to be taken. He would need proper processing of the matter. He had asked, who were the people who manufactured these vans? Where were they? Why had they done this? Obviously, for profit. Obviously, they had sat in the boardroom and decided to design an undervalued package. The matter would be even bigger than it was now if it had not been intercepted when it was, and brought to the attention of the Public Protector. They would probably be sitting with over a million panel vans in the country. That was why the checks and balances work for the system. Now the issue had been brought to light and halted. The Public Protector had intervened.
The Minister said he was not exonerating himself -- the Department was responsible for dealing with the issue.
Mr Moemi said that protocol dictated that he make no further comments after those made by the Minister.
The Chairperson said the Minister had acknowledged that a lot more work needed to be done. He had agreed with the view that the matter needed to be handled holistically, meaning looking into who the manufacturers were. There would need to be a schedule to do with how companies would be contacted. Taxi associations would have to be contacted.
Mr McDonald said the Minister had summed everything up perfectly. One could currently still buy Toyota conversion kits right here in Cape Town. There was one advertised on OLX, completely licensed and ready for business. A sub-committee should be established as soon as possible to investigate this scourge in the country where ordinary black South African lives, the poorest of the poor, were put at risk by capitalists whose only interest was money. This had to stop somewhere.
Mr Hunsinger said that with the Chairperson’s consideration, a sub-committee was formed with representative Members from the Committee. The Minister had admitted that there were issues beyond what was in the report. It was disappointing that the Minister now had a different reaction as to the way the item was introduced. He was leaning towards a solution, however, and wanted to fully cooperate in terms of information and investigation.
Ms M Ramadwa (ANC) said that the Minister had acknowledged the challenges, and he deserved a chance before a sub-committee was established. The Committee Members themselves should meet with the companies, and then move forward from there.
The Chairperson said that the finalisation of a sub-committee would not happen on this day, but maybe at the next meeting after the idea had been mulled over. If a sub-committee was formed, it meant that Members must be able to be consulted properly, so no one felt left out. The Committee had decided that its Members themselves would contact the companies and taxi associations.
Ms Ramadwa said that her understanding was that there was no agreement on forming a sub-committee, but that it was merely a proposal. Let it be discussed further at the next meeting.
Mr Hunsinger said that the report had been released in March 2019. Eighteen months had passed. In the remedial action, particular deadlines had been mentioned, none of which had been met. In other words, they had received a progress report on actions that should already have been completed. By the end of this meeting, they should have been in a position to guarantee the safety of motorists, by having fully addressed and completed the matter.
It was through the effort of having this meeting that the seriousness of the matter was now realised. Businesses were being destroyed through threats of impounding as the only solution. All of a sudden, only now had different and better options been discussed, whereas the only solution until now had been to destroy a business by offering R129 700.
Mr Hunsinger submitted again that the Committee needs to take this issue seriously and act on it. He emphasised his request for a sub-committee so that the scope of all the issues outside of the matter could be established, and so that there could be discussions with the Department and the Minister. This issue could not be resolved independently. Full cooperation had to be maintained.
Having a sub-committee meant they would be in a position where all the issues could be captured and dealt with properly. There was no attempt to highlight any discrepancies on the part of anybody, apart from what was already realised, which was that the entities already mentioned in the report had not done their job. This should not be a witch-hunt of who was guilty and who was less guilty, but this should be a committee that acted on behalf on South Africa’s citizens. If a sub-committee was established, the next time they met they could report on the full scope of the matters and then investigate. If this was postponed, more time would be lost. They owed it to motorists and to business owners.
Ms Nolutshungu seconded the proposal for the establishment of a sub-committee. What was presented at this meeting had been a presentation put together quickly because the issue had been raised. Even the responses to the questions were just responses to what had been laid out. Not much effort had been put into this matter.
She said the sub-committee should have its own recommendations for the Portfolio Committee. This had all begun in 2005. If it were not for this one particular individual who had lodged a complaint with the Public Protector, nothing would have been done. It should not be allowed for others to dictate what needed to be done. This matter was deeper than what had been shown. Something was not right.
The Minister said he was not about playing politics. He was honest. Nothing more could be justified. They had been dealing with the matter until COVID-19 had intervened. He had gone to the centres, spoken about the issue and convened the taxi industry. He wanted to understand from the taxi industry why it had not come to the party. He had posed questions to the Department on the matter. He said his answers were honest.
He called for a proclamation for the SIU to intervene. He would be happy with whatever the Committee decided regarding establishing a sub-committee. He would subject himself to what the Committee wanted from him. The issue of the panel vans was back on the agenda for the meeting with his team.
Further Committee comments
The Chairperson said that the Minister had made himself available for anything that needed clarification. Could a conclusion be reached? The view that a sub-committee be formed had not been met with hostility. The view was that, as a Portfolio Committee, there was a desire for a proper structure in order to deal with the matter. Could this be further discussed at the next meeting? The Chairperson counted four hands in the affirmative.
Mr L Mangcu (ANC) said that the Chairperson’s summary had been helpful. He did not know the difference between an ad hoc committee and a sub-committee, but there was agreement that as a portfolio committee, a focus group should be formed with the right terminology in terms of what governed their legal status. The Committee was not ready to conclude on a sub-committee today, but there was agreement that this committee be formed, whatever the legal framework may be, and there would be support teams, including legal people, who would guide the committee through the Chairperson. At the next meeting, they could conclude on terms of reference, composition, time frames and so on. Committee Members could interact in between meetings if there were drafts.
Mr Hunsinger thanked the Chairperson for his leadership. The term “sub-committee” could have given the impression of a committee with fewer members than what was in the Portfolio Committee. There was no intention to suggest anything like that. What was referred to was a sub-committee in terms of a particular workstream, theme or item -- the panel van item in this case. Let everyone agree that a sub-committee be formed, to include everybody, but with a particular focus as a workstream to address this issue. The first phase should be to determine the full scope of this issue, since everyone was in agreement that the Public Protector’s report fell short.
Mr Sithole said that to form a committee, one needed to understand the requirements, and it would need to go through Parliament. It would not be proper for the Committee to form a sub-committee today.
Ms Ramadwa said she supported what Mr Mangcu had said. A comprehensive discussion needed to take place.
The Chairperson said this issue would be one of the items at the next meeting. This was where they would conclude for the time being, and move forward with cool heads. Let them move in unison with the Department.
He thanked the Minister for being upfront with the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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