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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


3 FEBRUARY 2003 at 09h30

Mahlangu, M J (Deputy Chairperson)
Dlulane, Ms B N
Durr, Mr K D S
Kgoali, Ms J L
Lubidla, Mrs E N
Nkuna, Ms C
Ralane, Mr T
Setona, Mr T S
Sulliman, Mr M A
Surty, Mr M E
Themba, Mrs M P
Thlagale, Mr J O
Van Niekerk, Mr A E

Apologies: Mrs G N M Pandor, Mr C Ackermann, Mr R Nyakane, Mr M J Bhengu, Mrs J N Vilakazi

Staff in attendance: L L Matyolo (Secretary), N Keswa, B V L Momoti, B Matutle, M Tshaiviti, Z Traut, E van der Horst, B Nonyane, J Borien

1. Opening

The Deputy Chairperson opened the meeting.

Adoption of Agenda

The agenda was adopted without amendment. (The Chief Whip moved for the adoption, seconded by Ms Themba).

Consideration of Minutes of the meeting held on 13 November 2002

The minutes were adopted with the following amendment:

On page 1, the name of Mr J O Thlagale be added to the list of those present.

Matters arising:

Workshop in respect of the Powers and Immunities of Parliament Bill:

The Deputy Chairperson said that the Bill was still before an ad hoc committee. He asked whether there was agreement that a workshop was needed on the Bill since there were certain issues that affected Members directly.

The Chief Whip said that there had been requests from provincial Speakers and Chief Whips for such a workshop, and that the general view of members was that a workshop would be a good idea. The National Assembly ad hoc committee was already at an advance stage in its consideration of the Bill. The matter of a workshop should therefore be looked at without any undue delay.

Mr Sulliman said that since Mr Moosa had been the chairperson of the ad hoc committee, it would be necessary to appoint a new chairperson as soon as possible to assist the process.

The Chief Whip said that he would be forwarding the nomination for chairperson to the Presiding Officers during the course of that week.

that the workshop was necessary
that the new chairperson of the ad hoc committee be appointed
that the Presiding Officers drive the process by engaging with the provincial Speakers as to a suitable date for the workshop
that the Whippery and new chairperson of the ad hoc committee provide the necessary support

4.2 Venues for committee meetings:

The Deputy Chairperson said that the problem was the shortage of venues for committee meetings. This had lead to chairpersons booking venues 3 to 4 months in advance.

Ms Kgoali said that an audit was needed of all the rooms that were available for holding committee meetings. She said that there was also problems in respect of committee rooms which did not have microphones. She asked whether the Presiding officers could request such an audit to be done.

Mr Van Niekerk said that since the British High Commission building had been sold to the Department of Public Works, it might be useful for that building to be used for committee meetings.

The Deputy Chairperson said that although he had heard rumours regarding such a sale, that the option could be explored once the matter had been finalised.

The Chief Whip said that the Chairpersons of Committees of both Houses should meet to evaluate the situation, and make recommendations to the Committee. He said that the demand for committee venues had also increased because of the need for rooms with cameras.

Ms Kgoali said that the venue for the ANC caucus was also used as a committee venue. She asked whether the caucus rooms of other parties were also being used as committee rooms.

Mr Van Niekerk said that Parliament had also acquired the SARS building, and that it might be useful to consider moving support staff to that building so that more space could be made available for committee meetings.

On the motion of the Deputy Chairperson

that an audit be done of what venues were available for use as committee rooms, (that information be included as to whether caucus rooms are available)
that since SARS was relocating, it be considered whether parliamentary staff could be relocated to that building.
that the Chairperson of Committees in the Assembly and in the Council consider the matter of venues and make recommendations

Formula for delegations travelling abroad:

The Chief Whip said that a great deal of work had been done with regard to parliamentary visits. The Chief Whips Forum in the NA had paid attention to the matter. The current difficulty was in relation to the representation of smaller parties. If the smaller parties could reach agreement on the matter, then the formula could be finalised quite easily. The Presiding Officers of both Houses had indicated that the matter be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
The other aspect related to the issue of gender representation within delegations. It was important for parties to recognise that they had the responsibility on this matter. In the past, parties had always looked to the ANC to provide the gender balance. The matter needed to be finalised within agreed upon time-frames.

Mr Durr said that he would put the matter on the agenda of his party's caucus.

Mr Thlagale said that since he was the only member of his party in the Council, he did not have a problem with not always being included in parliamentary delegations.

Ms Kgoali said that the joint subcommittee on International Relations had looked into the issue of the travel formula and a document had been drafted. The problem was that the minority parties could not reach agreement between themselves and were therefore delaying the process. She suggested that the document which had been drafted by Professor Ripinga should be made available to members.

Mr Van Niekerk asked whether there was a formula for the Council which ensured that the Council members made up 22% -23% of the delegation.

The Deputy Chairperson asked that the Chief Whip ensure that the document drafted by Professor Ripinga be circulated to all members.

The Chief Whip said that the intention was to finalise the matter within one month's time. The representation of the Council was taken into account in the formula, but parties had to take responsibility for ensuring representation of Council members in delegations.

that the document which had been prepared by Professor Ripinga be distributed to all members of the committee

Sanctions for non-attendance by Members:

The Chief Whip said that given that there would be a workshop on the Powers and Immunities Bill, he suggested that the issue of sanctions should also be incorporated within the workshop.

that the legislation on Powers and Immunities would have a bearing on this, and that this aspect would be included as an aspect in the workshop which was being arranged

Time-limits for reply to questions:

The Chief Whip said that a document had been prepared but had not yet been finalised. He said that the intention was to finalise the document within one month. The Whippery would then propose amendments to the Rules for adoption by the Council.

Mr Durr said that he hoped the Chief Whip would also look into the issue of joint meetings being held with the NA because these were often scheduled in such a way that it made it very difficult for members of the Council to attend. He cited the example of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs which almost routinely sat jointly with the Portfolio Committee.

The Deputy Chairperson responded by saying that the issue raised by Mr Durr was a separate matter to that which was being discussed. He indicated that the matter could be discussed as a separate item later in the meeting.

The Deputy Chairperson went on to say that with respect to the time-limits for replies to questions, the concern was that because there was no guideline, Ministers could take quite a long time when replying to questions in the House. In the NA, there was a guideline which was applied, except in those instances when the officer presiding found it necessary to allow the Minister more time to reply because of the importance of the matter.

Ms Kgoali said that the Rules do provide that Ministers have three minutes to reply to a question. The difficulty however was in respect of follow-up questions. She said that the whole issue needed to be revisited because of the concerns such as whether all parties should have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and whether the member who asked the question should be limited to three follow-up questions.

that the Whippery would finalise their document within the next month and submit their recommendations
that Whippery also report on the issue of follow-up questions

Powers and Responsibilities of structures in Parliament:

Since none of the parties were in a position to fully discuss the matter, it was agreed that the matter would be deferred for discussion at the next meeting.

4.7. Language of Bills:

The Deputy Chairperson said that before a Bill could be put in both Houses, it needed to be in two official languages. The problem arose when a Bill was amended while it was being processed through Parliament. The question was whether those amendments had to be in the language of the Bill as it was introduced, or whether the amendments were only in Afrikaans and English.

The Chief Whip said that the position was that the President had to receive a Bill in two languages. The question was whether Parliament could pass a Bill if the amendments were not made in the same language as the Bill.

Mr Sulliman said that other issue was to finalise which body was responsible for translating the amendments, was it Parliament, or was it the respective Ministry.

The Deputy Chairperson said that his understanding was that the Ministry was responsible for the translation.

Mr Van Niekerk said that he had liaised with the publication company Juta, and that they had indicated that from a technical point of view, they were experiencing difficulties in regard to the language of Bills.

that the matter be referred to the Joint Rules Committee for further consideration

Appointment of Chairperson of Subcommittee on Review of the Council Rules:

The Chief Whip said that because of the resignation of Mr Moosa, a new chairperson needed to be appointed. The nomination of a member to fill that position was still being finalised.

that the recommendation be made to the Presiding Officers

7. Joint Meetings of Committees:

The Chief Whip said that he had raised the concern of joint meetings with the Chief Whip of the Majority Party in the NA, and they had agreed that the conferral was not an automatic process. When Select and Portfolio Committees sought to confer, it should be done through the Chairperson of Committees and the Chief Whips of both Houses. It did not necessarily mean that there would not be any clashes with meetings of other committees, but the Chairpersons of Committees and Chief Whips could consider whether the matter merits conferral.

Ms Dlulane suggested that the matter be taken to the multi-party Whips meeting for finalisation.

Ms Kgoali said that one of the problems was that the Rules Committee should, via the Chairperson of Committees, be provided with the programmes of the various committees in the Council. The reason for joint meetings was because many Council committees did not have their own programmes.

The Deputy Chairperson said that the issue of the joint meetings should be dealt with by the Chief Whip and the issue of the programme of committees should be dealt with by the Programme Committee, not the Rules Committee.

Ms Ntlabati said that members had to sometimes absent themselves from meetings because of the fact that a Council committee was meeting jointly with an NA committee, and therefore needed to fit in with the programme of the NA committee. The result was that notices were issued for meetings that were not in fact on the Council programme. She said that the matter had been already been a problem for many years.

that the matter be dealt with by the Chief Whip
that the issue of committee programmes be dealt with at the Programme Committee

Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements:

The Deputy Chairperson referred members to the report of the Subcommittee, and highlighted the following issues:

8.1 Draft policy on television broadcasting:

The Joint Subcommittee had referred the policy to the Chief Whips' Forum for consideration. The Chief Whips' Forum had agreed to the policy and the Joint Subcommittee was therefore recommending that the policy be considered by the Joint Rules Committee at its meeting on 4 February 2003.

Ms Kgoali said that she had not seen a copy of the draft policy.

On the motion of the Deputy Chairperson, agreed:
That the draft policy be circulated to all members of the Council

Problems with respect to the bus service to parliamentary villages and the maintenance of the grounds of villages:

When the NA and the Council adjourned late, the busses were often very late to pick up Members. There were also complaints that the grass was not being cut in the parliamentary villages. Parliament's administration had indicated that these matters were the responsibility of the Department of Public Works. The Joint Subcommittee had recommended that the two matters be referred to the Joint Subcommittee on Members' Support, for it to report to the Joint Rules Committee. The Joint Subcommittee also recommended that representatives of the Department of Public Works attend the meetings of the Joint Subcommittee on Support for Members.

English only signage boards:

The Joint Subcommittee had recommended that because the signage boards did not comply with the language requirements in the Constitution, different logos should be designed for the signage boards, which would make them more reader-friendly. Explanatory pamphlets could be printed in all the official languages.

Problems for Security system:

The faulty readers at the entry points had been rectified without any additional cost.

Entrance for Mark's Building:

Due to security concerns, the one entrance to the Mark's Building would only be for Members and for disabled persons.

8.6 Household matters:

The upgrading of the buildings for persons with disabilities will start on 3 February and will not interfere with the State of the Nation Address
The renovation of the gym has been completed, but the purchase of equipment will be on a piece-meal basis

The Department of Public Works was designing a post box which was lockable and portable, should Members move from the Council to the NA or vice versa.

The fire extinguishers have been serviced and are functioning

The Joint Subcommittee has asked for a report on the quality of food from the Catering Section.

The matter of the statue of former President Mandela was still work in progress and no decision would be taken as yet.

With respect to the issue of the security system and security in Parliament, Ms Kgoali said that the issue of theft in offices at Parliament was a problem. She suggested that the matter be referred to the Joint Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements.

She indicated that although offices were locked, people gained access using the master key.

that the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements take up the issue

With respect to the issue of parliamentary villages, Mr Ralane said that he was concerned that the roads in the parliamentary villages did not have names, for example the address would simply be given as C15 . He also asked whether consideration had ever been given to renaming the parliamentary villages.

that the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements take up the two issues

Report of the Subcommittee on Support for Members:

Ms Kgoali presented the Report of the Subcommittee and highlighted the following issues:

Condition of busses transporting members to and from parliamentary villages:

It was disturbing to note that Members had to use busses which sometimes were stuck without petrol or because of mechanical failure. The Subcommittee had recommended that the contract with the bus company be terminated because of the poor service that was being delivered. The matter would be placed before the Joint Rules Committee on 4 February 2003.

Parliamentary villages:

The Subcommittee had raised with the Secretary to Parliament, their concern regarding the problems of the drainage system in the villages, as well as other issues which affected the health and well-being of Members which were not being taken seriously.

Training programme for Members
The training programme would take place from 10 - 12 February 2003.

Ms Dlulane asked whether the Western Cape Provincial legislature could be approached to assist with the busses which they were using since those were of a much better condition.

The Deputy Chairperson said that once the Joint Rules Committee had decided on the matter, then the various options could be looked at.

Mr Ralane said that 10 of his travel vouchers had been removed from the booklet which he had received. When he inquired about the matter, he was told that the Presiding Officers had decided that the Members should receive 10 less vouchers. He was concerned that the decision was taken without consultation with Members.

The Deputy Chairperson said that he was not aware of the matter, but that it could be looked into, if Mr Ralane wished to raise it formally with the Presiding Officers.

Mr Setona said that he was concerned that the issues raised in the Report were not new, and that the Report had not given any options or any indication of how viable certain options were. He felt that the Committee should have come forward with a concrete proposal. He also said that he was concerned about the reduction in travel vouchers.

The Chief Whip explained that the vouchers which had been issued were the full number of vouchers which the Members were entitled to. The 10 vouchers which had been removed, were those vouchers which would be made available if it became necessary for Members to attend extraordinary sittings. He said that there should have been a notification to explain the situation to Members.

Ms Kgoali said that she was concerned at the manner in which Members were being treated by parliamentary officials. Members should be given information on time and should be treated as adults.

Ms Dlulane said that provincial Whips had not been given any explanation regarding the removal of the 10 tickets. There had been no correspondence in that regard. She was also concerned that the officials were also deducting money if a Member's dependent flew from one international airport, rather than from another. For example, in the Eastern Cape there were two international airports. If a dependent was to fly from Port Elizabeth and not East London, then money was being deducted.


that the issue of the bus service which is being provided to Members be referred to the Joint Rules Committee
that an explanatory memorandum be circulated to all Members regarding the number of travel vouchers which had been issued for 2003

Mr Durr said that because he lived in Cape Town, he was given fewer tickets, yet he did not live in the centre of Cape Town and had to drive a considerable distance to get home, more than 80 kilometres. He said he felt it was unfair that he was being discriminated upon.

Report of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability:

The Deputy Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers were still deciding on a date for a special meeting to consider the Report.

that the Presiding Officers decide on the date for the JRC meeting to specifically consider the report

11. Report of the Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation:

The Deputy Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers were still deciding on a date for a workshop to consider the Report.

that parties make submissions on interim report
that a date for the workshop be set

12. Report of the Subcommittee on Council Budget:

Mr Ralane said that the Subcommittee had not yet held its first meeting for the year. The proposal to the Joint Rules Committee was that the budget process start in earnest in April. All Committees would be expected to make submissions.

Ms Ntlabati said that for the period from January to March, all committees would have to submit their work programmes so that allocations can be made for that period.

Mr Ralane said that the 2003/2004 budget had its own flaws, which the Subcommittee was trying to address. There were many aspects which had not been considered, such as the fact that the Select Committees are clustered committees. The was also the difficulty that some chairpersons did not come to attend the budget hearings. It was important that a new model be used in the budget process for 2004/2005.

Mr Van Niekerk asked whether the Subcommittee would look only at Committee budgets or whether it looked at the budget more broadly.

Mr Ralane said that the Subcommittee was concerned only with the budget of the Council, but would also sit with the NA to consider the budget of Parliament.

14. Any other business:

The Chief Whip said that Mr Boyce Willem had passed away and a memorial service would be held on Wednesday. His funeral would be taking place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

15. Report of the Subcommittee on International Relations:

The Deputy Chairperson indicated that the item would be dealt with at the meeting of the Joint Rules Committee on 4 February 2003.

The meeting adjourned at 11h35.

M J Mahlangu, MP
Deputy Chairperson
National Council of Provinces


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