Section 25 Review Process
The Committee considered the Committee Programme which had clashes with Portfolio Committees assigned to meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Committee resolved to get permission to meet on Thursdays as well as Fridays to accommodate this so as to meet at least twice a week to meet its March deadline to finalise and adopt the Committee Report on the Section 25 Constitutional Amendment. The Members requested access to the written submissions on the matter, which the Chairperson assured them they are fully entitled to and the Committee Secretary would make access available to them.
The Chairperson began with introductory statements. The National Assembly Committee Chairpersons are bound by and are obedient to the Rules of Parliament and the Constitution of the Republic. The Chairperson would not discriminate against any political parties represented in this Ad Hoc Committee based on the size of their party or on the colour of their skin. They are a multi-party democracy, with the single purpose of serving South Africans as a whole, both black and white. All political parties represented in this Committee are equally important and are entitled to their opinions which must be considered on their merits and demerits with the view of reaching consensus or sufficient consensus.
He advised the Committee Secretary and Managers that when they develop the programme, they should bear in mind that some Members of this Ad Hoc Committee are Chairs or Members of other Committees, and other Members have political responsibilities in their parties. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Committee is meeting today, Wednesday, instead of the agreed Fridays, which he apologised for.
In this Ad Hoc Committee, they are not looking for a Freedom Front, EFF or ANC solution. They are looking for a South African solution for a South African problem. For this reason, he committed to treating all political parties regardless of their size as equals and committed to attaching equal importance to their contributions based on their merits and demerits. It was for this reason that it was decided that the current meeting should focus only on the programme to ensure that it does not clash with other meetings or responsibilities of Members and to make provision for political parties to schedule their study groups so that they come to the Ad Hoc Committee meetings with mandates from their principals.
The land issue is a build or break issue for South Africa’s young democracy. It requires maximum unity of purpose. The resolution of the land question is the condition precedent for the success of the economic reconstruction and recovery plan adopted by Parliament. In due consideration of this programme, Members must kindly factor in their responsibilities and study groups to ensure that the work of the Ad Hoc Committee is prioritised because South Africa will stand or fall depending on what is accomplished or failed to be accomplished in this Committee. He emphasised that the current meeting must not focus on anything other than the programme. This would ensure that when they move forward no one should say that they received short notice, or they had other responsibilities as they would have agreed on a Committee programme binding on all Members so they move together as one in the search of consensus or sufficient consensus. The programme was developed by Management and approved by the Chair of Chairs for the Members consideration. He requested that the Secretariat share the programme and asked Members to engage on it.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) stated that, looking at the programme, it is going to clash with the Justice Portfolio Committee on almost every date suggested in the programme. She would not expect to be accommodated and there is nothing much that can be done about the clash as both committees must sit. She wanted to draw attention to the fact that there are other Members who are also on the Justice Committee who would have the same problem and they would just have to find a way to make it work. She was merely drawing attention to that fact not asking for any accommodation.
The Chairperson responded that the Justice Portfolio Committee members would assist them.
Ms A Lotriet (DA) commented that at this stage she did not have issue with the programme dates but had another query. They are going to go into consideration of the Committee Report. At what point will the submissions be scrutinised by the Committee? Is that in any way going to be part of the programme?
Mr F Shivambu (EFF) seconded the adoption of the proposed programme and stated that the Committee must proceed and finalise the matter.
The Chairperson commented that he could see Mr Malema nodding next to Mr Shivambu so he would take it as consensus of their party. However, they must hear from the Secretariat of the Justice Portfolio Committee how this clash will be addressed.
Mr B Bongo (ANC), as Committee Whip, commented that the issue is difficult to answer, but on looking at the programme, they will attempt to make use of Fridays so that they avoid clashes with the Justice Portfolio Committee. If they limit the meetings to Fridays only, the risk is that the Ad Hoc Committee may not be able to complete the job before the March deadline, but they have tried to minimise clashes.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) expressed some uncertainty as she had just joined the meeting but commented that the programme has general support. Considering that the following week there will be State of the Nation (SONA) plenary debates which normally take two days, she suggested that they may need to also borrow from Thursdays and where possible, seek permission to meet after the SONA debates, and it should give ample time for the party caucuses to engage before coming to the Committee. As a matter of principle she agreed with using Fridays but also borrow from Thursdays because there are no other days. They need to do their best to accommodate individuals but also to ensure that by the March deadline they would have achieved what they needed to.
Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) supported Ms Lesoma’s views. Besides clashes with the Justice Committee, there would be clashes with other committees such as the Public Works Committee. She suggested that Thursday be the day they supplement with as Tuesdays and Wednesdays are committee days.
The Chairperson emphasised that regardless of the size of their party or the colour of their skin, they would treat all Members as equals. If there are adjustments, they would be done in consultation with all Members. They would not impose anything on Members without consultation. He asked Mr Bongo to address Ms Lotriet’s concern on submissions.
Mr Bongo hoped that the Committee would be able to guide them on that matter as the Committee Report that they had prepared covers summaries of submissions and policies.
The Chairperson claimed that the response should be sufficient for Ms Lotriet.
Ms Lotriet remarked that they have a duty as Committee members to have those submissions made available.
The Chairperson replied that they are fully entitled to have sight of those submissions and arrangements can be made with the Committee Secretary to ensure they have access to them.
Mr W Thring (ACDP) asked the Chairperson to confirm that what applied to MsLotriet about access to the submissions would apply to the other political parties.
The Chairperson confirmed that he was right, that all political parties are entitled to the same rights and they would be provided access. He ended the meeting stating that nothing would be done behind the back of any of the Members.
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