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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report




G N M Pandor (Chairperson)
M L Mushwana

M E Surty
M A Sullliman
M V Moosa
J L Kgoali
P Themba
K D S Durr
C Ackermann
M I Makoela
E N Lubidla
J L Theron
J O Thlagale
B N Dlulane
Z S Kolweni
M J Bhengu
J N Vilakazi

Staff in attendance: L L Matyolo, B Momoti, J Borien, B Nonyane, Z Adhikarie, B Matutle, A Mbanga, E van der Horst


C Nkuna, T S Setona, S N Ntlabati

1. Opening

The Chairperson of the NCOP took the chair and declared the meeting opened.

2. Adoption of Agenda

The item ' Refurbishment of the NCOP Chamber' was added as a separate item to be dealt with by the Secretary to the NCOP.

Consideration of the minutes of 17 May 2001

The minutes were adopted with the following amendments:
On page 5, the last sentence of the item dealing with the Educare Centre, be amended to read, "However, the Committee would also recommend that the closure should not be sudden, but should be phased in."

On page 6, the last sentence of the item dealing with the Refurbishment of the NCOP, be amended to read, "The recommendation would be taken to the next Joint Rules Committee meeting for information".

Matters Arising

4.1 Formula for delegations for travel purposes

The Chief Whip of the NCOP said that the views of the larger parties such as the ANC, DP and NNP had been crystallised, but that there were difficulties relating to the representation of the smaller parties. The matter was therefore still in the process of being finalised.

4.2 Meetings of the Subcommittee on Review of the NCOP Rules

Mr Moosa explained that while he noted the concerns raised at the previous meeting, he had great difficulties in arranging meetings of the subcommittee because of the failure of members to attend them.

The Chairperson said that the Deputy Chairperson should look into the matter and assist in ensuring that the subcommittee met more regularly.

Remuneration for the position of Acting Chairperson of Select Committee

Ms Kgoali said that the matter should be brought before the NCOP Rules Committee before it was raised at the level of the Joint Rules Committee.

It was agreed that the various provincial and party whips should discuss the matter and refer it to the NCOP Rules Committee thereafter.

Powers and Immunities Bill

Mr Moosa gave the following briefing on the progress that the Ad Hoc Select Committee was making with respect to the Powers and Immunities Bill:

A series of meetings had been held with the corresponding committee in the National Assembly, and the Committee was currently considering the fourth draft of the Bill. Joint meetings had been held to ensure that one single process was followed.

However there were two problems with the process. The first related to the programme of the NCOP. This meant that the attendance of NCOP members was very poor and it was therefore difficult to make a sustained input. The NA committee had been able to meet everyday in the week of the 14th February, but it was not possible for the NCOP members to be part of that process.

Mr Moosa indicated that he had written to the Chairperson in that regard.

He was of the view that the NA committee be allowed to continue with its consideration of the fourth draft. The NCOP committee would then have a one-day working session with the NA committee, where the presence of the NCOP component would be substantial, and try to reach agreement on the Bill. He added that the working session or workshop would also allow the committee to engage with their provincial counterparts particularly since it had not yet been finalised whether a single piece of legislation on the issue of immunities was required.

The Chairperson summarised the briefing by saying that there were two proposals, namely that the NA component be allowed to work somewhat independently from the NCOP committee in considering the fourth draft of the Bill, secondly, that a one-day workshop be arranged.

Ms Adhikarie (Parliamentary Law Adviser) indicated that Mr Meyer (Chief Parliamentary Law Adviser) had been assisting the NA committee in their consideration of the fourth draft. Since he would be retiring from Parliament, she suggested that he might be able to make himself available to the NCOP for a limited time.

The Chairperson said that the members of the Committee and the law advisers could provide the necessary information at the workshop which was being proposed, and that Mr Meyer could possibly be approached thereafter, once the consideration of the draft was completed.

The Chief Whip of the Council suggested that there be a briefing for all NCOP members prior to the workshop with the NA committee because that would provide the members with relevant information which they could convey to their respective legislatures.

It was agreed that:

1) The NA committee would continue with its consideration of the fourth draft and that the chairpersons of the two committees would liaise where necessary.

2) The NCOP committee to proceed to arrange the workshop with the assistance of the Secretary to the NCOP.

5. Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements

The Deputy Chairperson said that the report which had been distributed had already been presented to the Joint Rules Committee, although it should have been brought to the Rules Committee before that. He said that there were no other issues to report on other than those contained in the report.

He then proceeded to highlight the following issues:

Appointment of Curator

The Curator had been appointed as from 1 January 2002.

5.2 Statue of Former President Mandela

The Artworks Lending Committee had been tasked with the drafting of proposals regarding location, timeframes and the selection process to be followed.

Upgrading of facilities for physically challenged persons

A document containing details of the proposed upgrading of existing building facilities had been distributed to members of the Subcommittee. Members felt that there were certain omissions in the proposals. The Subcommittee requested that parties should make their input in this regard directly to the Secretary to Parliament.

New Visitors' Centre

The Visitors' Centre was operational as from 8 February 2002.

Proposed increase in food prices

The Joint Rules Committee had resolved that the parties would consider the matter and convey their views to the Presiding Officers. (A detailed discussion was held in the meeting and is recorded as a separate item below).

Inadequate Venues for Committee meetings

The matter had been referred to the Management Board for report to the Subcommittee. (A discussion was held in the meeting and is recorded as a separate item below).

Cleanliness in Parliament

The Deputy Chairperson and the Deputy Speaker were dealing with the matter and were in the process of visiting various areas and doing an assessment of what could be done.
Coat of Arms

The issue of the old Coats of Arms that were displayed on the walls of the NCOP Chamber was raised at the last subcommittee meeting. It was agreed that a progress report on the NCOP refurbishment project be submitted at the next subcommittee meeting.

Party submissions regarding artworks

All submissions had been received. The Curator would try to consolidate the various recommendations.

5.10 Offer of Northern Flagship Institution to store artworks

A final decision still had to be made. It would depend on the recommendation of the Curator and the committee discussions thereon.

New permits

The Chief Whip said that provincial whips had been informed to alert members that their photographs were needed for the new identification permits that were being issued.

Ms Lubidla asked what the position was with respect to the permits of the spouses or partners of members.

The Chairperson said that there had been an undertaking that a briefing on the new security system would be given to all the whips. Since there had been no such briefing for the NCOP whips, the Chief Whip should follow-up on the matter.

6. Proposed increase in food prices

Mr Moosa said that the cost of meals that were delivered to committee meetings was very expensive and asked whether the Internal Arrangements Subcommittee could ascertain from the Catering Section what the reasons were for such high prices.

Mr Ackermann said that the New National Party had submitted their views on the proposed increase in prices to the Presiding Officers.

Ms Lubidla said that while she recognised that the cost of living had increased, she believed that unless the standard of the quality of the food was raised, there could not be an increase in price.

The Chairperson said that a recent report on the Parliamentary budget had indicated that the expenses of the Catering section was a fairly large item. This was due to the fact that waitrons were employed on a full-time basis to service each of the restaurants, even during the recess periods when these facilities were not used very often. In addition, the prices were not market-related because of the fact that the meals were substantially subsidised.

She said that the intention had been to convert the Old Assembly Dining room into a self-service facility for light meals. However, the current situation is that members were still utilising the facility for large meals.

She also indicated that the quality of the food was not acceptable and that the Presiding Officers had previously indicated that there should be a wider variety of low-fat food and salad choices, rather than the large meals that were being served.

The Chairperson concluded by saying that the food prices had not increased for two years, and that Presiding Officers were waiting for the party submissions on the proposed price increase.

The Chief Whip said that the Joint Rules decision, that the Old Assembly Dining Room be utilised as a self-service facility aimed at serving light meals, be implemented.

Mr Moosa said that the Catering Section should be informed that there will be no increase in prices unless there is a restructuring of the way on which things were being done. He said that the Section was not paying electricity or rental yet it was not able to make a profit. He said that the Section was to be informed that it either improves on its efficiency or the catering service will be privatised. Furthermore committees should be able to decide whether to use the Catering section for meals or to use an external service provider.

The Chairperson said that the food prices would have to increase. She said that the points raised with respect to the Catering Section are noted and that the Management Board should take cognisance thereof.

Mr Theron said that in general he did not have a problem with the quality and variety of food that was being served in the Marks Building, although there were things that could be improved upon.

Mr Durr suggested that it might be useful for the Catering Section to distribute questionnaires to Members so that they could indicate whether they were satisfied with the service or whether there were any problems that needed to be addressed.
Ms Kgoali said that she supported the idea of a questionnaire. She said that of the three restaurants, the Old Assembly Dining Room was the most popular.

Ms Lubidla said that a dietician should be consulted so that the there could be an improvement in the food which was provided.

Ms Vilakazi indicated her support for the need for a questionnaire and for a dietician to be consulted.

The Chairperson concluded the discussion by saying that the Presiding Officers needed to get input from the parties about the proposed increase in the food price.

Venues for Committee meetings

The Chairperson said that the Speaker had raised with her the possibility that the Presiding officers and the Joint Rules Committee consider the addition of the further floors, particular with respect to the NCOP building. She said that if members had any ideas on the matter these would be welcomed.

8. Facilities in Parliament

Mr Durr said that the matter of a lack of postal facilities in Parliament had been raised at the Joint Rules Committee and that in response, a small post office or post room had been established in the Old Assembly. The difficulty was that one could not buy a stamp or even post a letter at that office. There was therefore nothing new about the facility. He said that he believed that the ability to courier a letter was a basic service that belonged in Parliament, and asked the Rules Committee to consider the matter.

It was agreed that the request for the facility be referred to the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements for report at the next meeting.

The Deputy Chairperson said that a component of the Subcommittee had looked into the issues and the implications that lead to the closure of the Post Office at Stalplein.

Ms Kgoali said that she wished to congratulate the Household Section for the visible improvement in the cleanliness of the Parliamentary precincts.

Report on the Review of the NCOP Rules

The Chairperson said that the Report was an attempt to stimulate deliberation on the Rules of the NCOP. It had been prepared by staff and had been circulated to Members.

Mr Moosa said that the Subcommittee on the Review of the NCOP Rules had met on 13 February 2002 to discuss the Report and had subsequently prepared its own Report to the Rules Committee.

Mr Ackermann enquired as to why he had not received a notice of the meeting on 13 February.

Mr Nonyane (NCOP: Procedural Adviser) indicated that notices had only been sent to members of the Subcommittee.

It was agreed that there would be a Rules Committee meeting in March 2002 at which the report would be fully and properly discussed.

Refurbishment of the NCOP Chamber

The Secretary to the NCOP presented the document headed " Progress Report on Refurbishment of the NCOP Chamber prepared for submission to NCOP Rules Committee on 14 February 2002"

Mr Sulliman enquired about the microphones which had been removed from the Old Assembly Chamber.

The Secretary to the NCOP explained that they had been removed so that the Chamber could be prepared to link the microphones to the existing translation facilities.

11. Report of the Subcommittee on Review of the NCOP Rules

It was agreed that report would be considered at the Rules Committee Meeting during March 2002.

Report of the Subcommittee on Oversight & Accountability

The Chief Whip of the NCOP said the report of the subcommittee had been circulated.

The report was noted.

The Chairperson suggested that all members take an interest in the work of the subcommittee, particularly since the recommendations will impact on the work of all committees.

Report of the Subcommittee on the Council Budget

The Chairperson of the NCOP said that she was concerned that there was no report on the Parliamentary Budget. She believed that there had to be a debate on the Vote of Parliament (in the Appropriation Bill) because as an institution we could not demand accountability without being accountable ourselves.

Ms Kgoali said that she had intervened on the Budget issue late last year, but that she had raised with the Chief Whip the difficulties she had in serving on both the Budget Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Support for Members.

The Chief Whip of the Council said that he hoped to finalise the matter of a Chairperson for the Budget Subcommittee within the next 10 days.

The Chairperson of the NCOP said that she wanted a report from the Secretary to the NCOP indicating what steps Parliament had taken to meet the time-frames with respect to the Budget process.

Report of the Subcommittee on Support for Members of the Council

Ms Kgoali said that she was not able to produce a written report on the programme of the Subcommittee, but that she could confirm that the work of the subcommittee was continuing. She undertook to bring a report to the next Rules Committee meeting.

The Chairperson asked why members were not attending the training sessions that had been organised. She said that she had attended the workshop on HIV/Aids, and was concerned that only a few members had attended.

Mr Theron said that one of the reasons for non-participation was because the smaller parties had quite a heavy workload and had to attend to constituency work as well.

The Chairperson said that she believed that the training programme had been agreed to by all parties. She asked whether the problem was with the content of the training or the time of the training.

The Chief Whip of the Council said that the Whips had been responsible for attending all the training sessions and that the Whips from both Houses are looking at the issue of the poor attendance of members. He said that the content of the training was topical and useful.

The Chairperson said that she would propose that the Subcommittee conduct a survey to find out which areas members were interested in receiving training in.

15. Report of the Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation

The Chief Whip of the Council indicated that the Report had been circulated. He said that the appointment of the Chairperson of the NA component had been finalised and that much progress was being made. A comprehensive report would be available at subsequent meetings.

The Chairperson encouraged members to also look at the EU report on the legislative landscape once it has been published, in particular Professor Christina Murray's view on the role of the NCOP with respect to delegated legislation.

The meeting adjourned at 15h40.

G N M Pandor
Chairperson of the NCOP


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