Video: Ad Hoc S25 16 April 2021
Following an extensive public consultation process of public submissions (written and oral) to hear views on amending Section 25 of the Constitution, the Ad Hoc Committee sat virtually to adopt the consolidated report prepared by staff which included oral submissions heard in the previous week. Because this was a heavily consultative process, the Chairperson proposed that Members be given until 3 May to consider the deliberations and then for the principle work of the Committee to begin from 5 May.
Concerns were raised by Members about the potential inaccuracies in reporting submissions and whether the document was required to be adopted altogether. The Chairperson proposed the Committee rather adopt the report, making it ‘an official document to make official decisions.’
Another key concern was about the length of submissions, both in the hearings and in the report. Some Members said the capturing of the oral submissions was inconsistent – some were very thorough while others were very brief. It was agreed that incomplete presentations recorded would have their written presentations included as annexures to the Committee report. To avoid the potential issue of ‘re-submissions’ or ‘refreshed submissions’, they would use the presentation versions provided in the meeting and cross-check this against the attached annexures.
Welcoming and introductory remarks
The Chairperson opened the meeting with welcoming remarks. He said that the Committee agreed to move forward with the Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill. However, when concerns were raised, the Committee extended the written submissions deadlines. After consultation, they allowed further time for submissions, along with further consultations with Ministers involved. As parliamentarians, they did not have a ‘monopoly of wisdom’. Ultimately, the draft report was adopted, pending oral submissions. The administration had been requested to present a consolidated report which would be adopted with or without amendments in the meeting.
Because this was a heavily consultative process, the Chairperson proposed that after the Committee adopted the report in the meeting, Members would be given until 5 May for deliberations. They were interested in the additions which had been effected, following the conclusion of public hearings in the previous week and as such, they would not ask administration to represent everything which they had studied. Rather, the Chairperson requested they go straight into inputs on deliberations. He wanted them to move towards deliberations on other matters that needed to be adopted.
Ms A Lotriet (DA) said she had studied the report and thanked the staff who prepared it. She compared the report content with the written submissions and her own notes. There were omissions which were concerning. It was important for the Committee to honestly apply its mind, especially because they relied on the public’s experience and knowledge. The additions of the oral submissions were inconsistent – some were very thorough while others were very brief. In some instances, presenters were stopped after 15 minutes while others went on for 30 minutes. In the interest of thoroughness and inclusivity, she proposed that submissions which could not be completed be attached as annexures to the report. The Banking Association of South Africa, for example, had made an extensive submission which was not reflected in the report.
Ms M Lesoma (ANC) appreciated the positive input from Ms Lotriet and agreed with her. The report drafters had done a sterling job, but they had not necessarily captured the information to everyone’s satisfaction. When the programme was circulated for Members to engage with stakeholders, there were specific timeframes allocated. The unequal time allocations were unintentional, though this did provide an advantage. She agreed with the proposal of adding attachments. If there were other fundamental issues of completeness, they should also be included. This would provide a full image of the oral submissions in the report. She formally moved for adoption of the report.
Dr M Ndlozi (EFF) wondered if it was a requirement for the document to be adopted, because it posited itself as a resource for deliberations. If they were in a Committee and the secretariat prepared a research document on a departmental issue, it was not necessarily adopted but rather used as resource. He wondered if the Committee could take this approach. He wanted them to move towards deliberations on other matters that needed to be adopted. There could never be a complete capture of what happened in the true sense of the word. If Members were all present at the hearings, they would all have different perceptions of what was said. It was a mathematical ineffectuality, but also a resource to report on how many people had agreed or disagreed during the oral submissions.
Mr S Gumede (ANC) suggested the report be adopted. As much as he considered what Dr Ndlozi had said, he felt that all documents were resources. The aim was for the report to be an official document of the Committee provided all Members were satisfied that it properly reflected what happened. Mr Gumede also cautioned that at times it might be seen as ‘shifting the goalpost’ to resubmit attachments. It was important not get re-submissions or refreshed submissions. He was of the understanding that presenters had left their presentations when they spoke, and this original version is the one that should be used.
Ms Lesoma suggested that the last paragraph of the first report be brought to the current document so that it could read as one cohesive and comprehensive document. This would circumvent the issue raised by Dr Ndlozi. Cross-referencing and cross-checking would negate the need for refreshed submissions.
The Chairperson said Dr Lotriet and Ms Lesoma were moving the meeting forward by suggesting the attachments. He said all resource documents were official Committee documents. For the document to be used as a reference, it needed to be adopted. This would ensure decisions were not taken on unofficial documents. He said Dr Ndlozi should not fear about submissions not being captured, as submissions were recorded verbatim and they could always go back to the recordings. The real work was to debate the Bill, otherwise the process would be futile. The Chairperson asked if there were any counter-proposals, of which there were none.
Dr Lotriet asked for confirmation that everything would be circulated and form part of the report.
The Chairperson agreed.
The report was adopted.
The Chairperson’s network cut out, leading Ms D Mahlatsi (ANC) to suggest the election of an acting chairperson.
The secretariat clarified the Chairperson’s proposal to give Members until 3 May to review deliberations and then to look at the principle work of the Committee as of 5 May.
Ms Lesoma was nominated to chair the remainder of the meeting. She reiterated the Chairperson’s above proposal.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.