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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


22 February 2001

Chairperson: Mr AC Nel

Documents handed out:
Report No 13 by The Public Protector
Briefing Submission by Public Protector to this Committee

Members of this Committee were divided on how to proceed concerning a decision of a sanction on Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr P Maduna. The majority party was of the view that Parliament does not have the authority to sanction Minister Maduna. The opposition parties were of the view that Minister Maduna should be invited to the Committee to make suggestions on what sanctions he thinks are appropriate for himself.

Mr A Nel asked the members for their views on how the Committee should proceed with the handling of the Public Protector's Thirteenth Report.

Mr L Landers (ANC) stated that the Report should be dealt with holistically, by looking at all aspects of the Report, instead of focusing only on Minister Maduna's actions. The ANC is concerned with the manner in which the Strategic Fuel Fund operated, particularly with the diversion of SFF money for unauthorised purposes. There is also concern about the corruption and malpractice within the corporate governance of the SFF.

In a decided case it was held that Parliament did not have the power to sanction members. Furthermore the National Assembly has already dealt with the Minister, as he was made to apologise for his conduct. It is a weakness of the Constitution that it does not provide for sanction of Members of Parliament. Thus the matter should be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee, the Parliamentary Rules Committee and the Justice and Constitutional Development Portfolio Committee.

Mr D Gibson (DP) said that the Committee's purpose was essentially to look at the conduct of Minister Maduna. Minister Maduna failed to comply with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, when he decided to attack the Auditor-General in a press conference. He should have followed the correct procedures, in terms of the Constitution, if he wanted to lodge a complaint. The Public Protector has conducted an extensive investigation, and for the ANC to suggest that the matter must now be sent to other parliamentary committees, is merely an attempt to delay the matter even further. The appropriate course of action is to ask Minister Maduna to appear before the Committee and provide the Committee with his view on what he thinks is the best way to deal with the matter. If the Minister apologises and thereafter provides some monetary contribution for all the taxpayers' money that has been wasted in respect of legal fees and other purposes, then the Democratic Party will be satisfied.

Mr G Oliphant (ANC) stated that since the Committee needed to be moved forward, parties had to recognise the Constitutional weakness that had been brought to the fore. This must be dealt with first. In the absence of any Constitutional provision providing for Minister Maduna to be sanctioned, the only thing to do is repair the Constitutional weakness that does not allow for such sanctions. It would also be beneficial to the Committee if the views of all the Parties could be heard.

Ms P De Lille (PAC) stated that the Public Protector's Report cannot be re-investigated
By sending the Report to all the other Committees would be re-investigating the Report and questioning the credibility of the Public Protector. The Committee should apply its mind to the recommendations that were made by the Public Protector in the Thirteenth Report.

Adv D Bakker (NNP) said that the Public Protector had conducted an excellent investigation and made good recommendations. These are the recommendations that this Committee and Parliament should follow. It would be a good idea to call Minister Maduna to this Committee.

Prof L Ndabandaba (IFP) stated that the Committee should act on the Public Protector's recommendations so that this matter could be brought to finality objectively and expeditiously. To give effect to the 'audi alteram partem' rule, Minister Maduna should be given a chance to be heard by this Committee.

Mr J Mgidi (ANC) said that the Committee needed to take this matter forward. This is not a disciplinary committee. It seems that to bring Minister Maduna to this Committee and ask him to explain himself, is creating a disciplinary function for this Committee. The Committee's mandate is to look at the Report. Minister Maduna's conduct is merely one part of the Report. Therefore the Committee needs to look at the Report holistically.

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) stated that there was no legal and factual basis to call Minister Maduna to this Committee. This would be undermining the work of the Public Protector.

Mr Gibson said that the ANC members had inadvertently misrepresented what he had said. He did not want Minister Maduna to tell his side of the story to the Committee. Minister Maduna should respond to the recommendations that were made by the Public Protector and should propose what could now be done.

Ms De Lille was concerned with the costs that were involved in extensively going through the Report again.

Mr Landers stated that in other instances of corruption Ms De Lille was always the first to ask for an investigation. At those times the cost factor was not problematic. However, she finds it problematic in this matter. According to Mr Gibson the main focus of the Report was the conduct of Minister Maduna, however, according to the Report the main focus was the corruption in the SFF.

Mr Mokaba (ANC) reiterated earlier statements that it was not in the Committee's mandate to question Minister Maduna. Also the Public Protector did not in his Report suggest that Minister Maduna was acting 'mala fide'.

Mr Gibson said that Minister Maduna knew that the statements that he had made at a public forum were untrue. However, he continued attacking the Auditor General. Minister Maduna was duty bound to comply with the Constitution and its procedures. It is his responsibility to uphold the integrity and essence of the Constitution.

Mr Oliphant suggested that a report by the Committee needed to be drafted. A sub committee could be constituted to do this work. The views of all parties could be included in this report, so that there could be some order and sequence in respect of this matter.

The Committee decided to create a subcommittee, who would put together a draft report of the Committee. This report would not be the Committee's final report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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