The Portfolio Committee convened in a virtual meeting setting and considered and adopted the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of both the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and the Housing Development Agency (HDA) 2019/20 Annual Reports and Financial Statements.
In addition, the Committee was briefed on the arrangements of the planned Lesotho oversight trip, scheduled to start on Monday, 3 May 2021 and conclude on Saturday, 8 May 2021.
On request of the Chairperson, a moment of silence was observed to ask for divine intervention for all the challenges that the country was facing and to pray for those who passed on due to the pandemic.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Content Advisor to present the DWS BRRR.
BRRR on Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) 2019/20 Annual Report
Ms Shereen Dawood, Committee Content Advisor, indicated that she would not read the report in its entirety. Instead, she highlighted the most important details contained in the report.
The Chairperson allowed Members an opportunity to engage with the report. She advised that the report was a representation of the oversight conducted by the Committee and by its nature, some of the resolutions would overlap from one year to the next year.
The Committee did not make any remarks and the report was duly adopted.
BRRR on Housing Development Agency (HDA) 2019/20 Annual Report
Mr Sabelo Mnguni, Committee Content Advisor, presented the HDA report.
Ms E Powell (DA) raised her concerns, particularly about Section 4 of the report. She argued that Section 4 was not a true reflection of the extensive discussions that were held and the input that was made by a number of Committee members on the matter of observations and recommendations. She noted that in terms of Section 166(4)(b)(i) of the Rules of the National Assembly, the minority view must be expressed if the report was not unanimously adopted.
The items she wanted to be included dealt with the understatement of expenses, concerns about salaries and bonuses, a request to summons the Minister in line with the PMFA, a full enquiry into executive and accounting authority (with reference to the continuous hiring and firing of CEOs), a request to refer the report to the Auditor-General for special investigation (the report was only audited by Ngubane Auditors), referral of the report to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), a audit representative to be included as part of the entity and lastly, consideration of the cash holdings which were in excess of R4 million. Ms Powell indicated that the Recommendations were generalised and unsubstantiated. The specific recommendations that the Committee provided were not recorded.
In response, the Chairperson said Ms Powell was expressing her interpretation on the matter.
Ms Powell said it was not an interpretation but a fact based on the Rules which prescribed that the minority view must find expression in the report.
The Chairperson replied that the majority rule will stand.
Ms Powell interjected and said the Chairperson was arguing on a point that was legislated.
The Chairperson voiced her displeasure about the interjection and asked that she be allowed to speak. She requested other Members to raise their views.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) sympathised with Ms Powell and confirmed that the Committee did raise concerns about the HDA. However, he was of the view that the Recommendations were addressing the concerns. He proposed that the HDA be allowed to return within six months to report on the measures taken, including disciplinary actions. He said the Department and HDA showed willingness to report to the Committee.
Ms N Mvana (ANC) did not sympathise with Ms Powell. She said all Members were concerned about the progress of the HDA but believed answers were provided and the situation would be corrected. She agreed the HDA must be given time frames for everything it promised to rectify. She was satisfied with the report and said reports should be monitored on a quarterly basis as agreed in a previous meeting.
Mr M Mashego (ANC) said he was indeed concerned about the progress of the HDA but agreed that this report showed signs of progress and the HDA should be given the benefit of the doubt. The report should be accepted subject to a time frame of six months.
The Chairperson said the HDA must develop an action plan to respond to the outcomes of the audit report. After six months, the Committee would follow up on progress on the implementation of the audit findings and recommendations.
Ms Powell stated that the dispute was about the specifications of the National Assembly Rules and not whether there was agreement on the Recommendations. It did not matter if the three Members agreed. Her contention was that the report must specify dissension and the minority view according to the Rules. She requested that her minority view be noted.
The Chairperson agreed that the different view held by Ms Powell would be noted.
Ms Powell resolved to refer the matter to the Rules Committee.
In response, the Chairperson said the report that would be sent to the House, would include the differing view of Ms Powell.
Ms Powell reiterated that the report must reflect the items in which respect there was dissent.
The report was adopted with the objection of the DA.
Lesotho Oversight Trip
The Chairperson informed the Committee that she applied for ten Members to go on the Lesotho trip. The number was reduced to eight Members after the Presiding Officer said the expenses were too high. It was agreed that the delegation would include four ANC, one DA, one EFF and two support staff.
Ms Vuyokazi Makubalo, Committee Assistant, briefed the Committee on the details of the trip.
Arrangements for the trip were in the process of being finalised. Members were to meet in Johannesburg on Monday 3 May 2021. Details on the hotel where they would meet and stay the night would be communicated on Sunday 2 May 2021. Members were requested to do a Rapid Covid-19 test and obtain a certificate from a Dis-Chem pharmacy. Results would be available within 15 minutes after which a certificate is issued. The test is only performed from Monday to Friday and not over the weekend. Members would have to pay R350 for the test and would be able to reclaim the amount. Once confirmation of the hotel in Lesotho is received, the details would be communicated via SMS or telephonically over the weekend.
Ms Makubalo informed Mr Mashego that his passport would be ready for collection later that day.
The Chairperson noted that Ms Mohlala of the EFF was not in the meeting and reminded staff to inform her of the travel arrangements.
The Chairperson explained that the oversight visit programme would be discussed when they meet in Johannesburg. Details would be provided as soon as possible so that Members would know what was expected of them. Members who were not part of the trip, were requested to be prepared in case the need for a stand-in occurred before the start of the trip.
Mr Tseki asked how many days they would be on the trip.
The Chairperson replied that after the sleepover in Johannesburg on Monday 3 May 2021, Members would travel to Lesotho on Tuesday and travel back on Saturday 8 May 2021.
Adoption of minutes of meetings
The minutes dated 2, 11, 25, 30 and 31 March 2021 were considered and adopted.
In the minutes dated 11 March 2021, Ms Powell asked if written details of the settlement agreement for former HDA CEO Pascal Moloi had been provided to the Committee within seven days as requested by the Committee and as noted in the minutes.
The Chairperson said she would follow up on the matter with the support staff and distribute it to the Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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