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DRAFT MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE RULES COMMITTEE OF THE NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES HELD ON
13 NOVEMBER 2002
Pandor, Mrs G N M (Chairperson)
Mahlangu, M J (Deputy Chairperson)
Ackermann, Mr C
Dlulane, Ms B N
Kgoali, Ms J L
Lubidla, Mrs E N
Moosa, Mr M V
Nkuna, Ms C
Ralane, Mr T
Setona, Mr T S
Sulliman, Mr M A
Surty, Mr M E
Themba, Mrs M P
Apologies: Ms S N Ntlabati
Staff in attendance: L L Matyolo (Secretary), B Matutle, M Tshaiviti, E Palmer, E van der Horst, B Nonyane, J Borien
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 11h00.
Adoption of Agenda:
Ms Kgoali asked that the issue of a Chief Whip of the Majority Party, be added to the agenda as item 19.
The agenda as amended was adopted.
Consideration of the Minutes of the Rules Committee meeting on 14 February 2002:
The following corrections were made:
On page 7, the first sentence under item 7 was to be amended as follows:
"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 further floors, particularly with respect to the building of the National Council of Provinces."
The minutes as amended were adopted.
Consideration of the Minutes of the Rules Committee meeting on 10 May 2002:
The minutes were adopted.
5. Consideration of the Minutes of the Rules Committee meeting on 25 June 2002:
The minutes were adopted.
6. Matters arising:
Powers and Immunities of Parliament Draft Bill:
The Chairperson said that the draft Bill was still being finalised. The workshop which was envisaged, had not yet taken place.
Venues for Committee meetings:
The Chairperson said that she was still waiting to hear from Members whether they had any ideas on the matter.
6.3 Formula for delegations for travel purposes:
The Chief Whip of the Council indicated that the there had been a process of consultation, but that the matter still had to be finalised.
7. Report of the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules:
The Chief Whip presented the Report. (A copy of the Report is attached marked Annexure "A").
The Chairperson asked for clarity on the wording of section 5F(1), which provided that the petition must be signed at the beginning thereof by the member.
The Chief Whip said that the intention was that the petition had to include the signature of the petitioner.
Mr Setona raised a concern about the wording of section 5B, which provided that the petition must be in the form prescribed by the Chairperson of the Council in accordance with guidelines determined by the Rules Committee. He asked whether the Rules Committee had already determined such guidelines.
The Chief Whip said that the intention was the Chairperson would take the lead in proposing the appropriate guidelines to the Rules Committee for adoption.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the formulation of the provision should be looked at again.
The Secretary to the NCOP asked whether the intention was that members of the public would not have the right to petition the Council.
Ms Lubidla asked whether the reference in section 5C to official languages referred to the 11 languages.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the Constitution referred to 11 official languages. He suggested that section 5C provide that a petition must be in any one of the official languages.
Mr Ackermann said that although the San and other indigenous languages are not official languages, they should be accommodated.
The Chairperson said that the petitions procedure should be looked at more closely. Any person should be able to make a submission in any language be it in French or in Xitsonga. The formulation that was being proposed was too restrictive. The Chairperson said that it might be useful to incorporate aspects of the Rules of the Gauteng Legislature pertaining to petitions.
The Chairperson said that with respect to section 5G, the word "must" should be replaced with "may" since it could be that the Chairperson received a petition which the Chairperson was able to deal with immediately, without having to refer the matter to a committee.
The Chairperson said that section 5H(1) should be deleted since committees should not be referring matters to the Executive. Committees should Report to the House.
Agreed that the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules reformulate and reconsider the sections where concerns had been raised.
The Chief Whip explained that the amendment being proposed was a consequential amendment arising from the new structure of the Courts.
Agreed that the proposed amendment be accepted.
Rules 13, 14(1), 22, 83, 93(2), 101(2), 103(2)(a), 142(1)(e) and 160(1)(b):
The Chief Whip explained that the amendments that were being proposed were only being placed before the Rules Committee for discussion, and not for decision.
He said that the amendments were based on a proposal that the position of the Chief Whip of the National Council of Provinces be replaced by the position of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party.
It was proposed that the Chief Whip of the Majority Party would be elected by the provincial Whips. The intention was that the Chief Whip of the Majority Party would act as convenor of the provincial Whips in the Council. The responsibilities of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party would include co-ordinating activities and for certain purposes, the Chief Whip of the Majority Party will be deemed to be the Chief Whip of the Council.
The Chairperson said that the proposal appeared to be attempting to do more than one thing. The Chairperson said that she believed that it was unlikely that a Majority Party would allow persons from other parties to elect its Chief Whip.
The Chairperson said that she did however agree that there was a need for a convenor of provincial Whips. The Chairperson said that she believed that the Council needed to establish a co-ordinating mechanism, such as a forum of provincial Whips. The Chief Whip of the Majority Party would then be the chairperson of that forum.
The Chairperson asked that the Whips look at the matter and make an input on what that co-ordinating mechanism should be.
Mr Moosa said that the matter was a very complex one and that it was important to look at the nature of the Council as an institution itself. He said that he agreed that it would not be appropriate for the provincial Whips to elect the Chief Whip of the Majority Party.
The nature of the Council was such that there were provincial processes and party processes. The agenda of the Council, which was usually driven by the Chief Whip of the Council, had a strong provincial context. He was not sure whether it would be appropriate for a Majority Party Whip to drive that agenda. He said that if the ANC felt there was a deficiency because there was no ANC Whip in the Council, then they should be given the opportunity to appoint a party whip, in the same way as the Democratic Party.
The Chairperson said that it was important not to overlook the existence of the Presiding Officers and their obligation in ensuring co-ordination. The Chief Whip of the Council must not be confused with the role of a Presiding Officer.
The Chairperson suggested that the matter be referred back to the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules for further consideration.
Ms Kgoali said that when a matter was referred to the Whips, then it meant that all parties should be included. If only provincial Whips were to deal with matters, it would mean that certain parties would be excluded. She said that she agreed that there was a need for a co-ordinator. She said that she also agreed that the Chief Whip should be elected by all the permanent delegates, and not only by the provincial Whips.
Mr Setona said that he supported the suggestion that the matter be referred to parties for further discussion.
Mr Ackermann said that he also supported the view that there be a broader discussion of the matter. The House was constituted on the basis of provinces. Although provinces appointed provincial Whips, the provinces did not have any power over members of other parties in the provincial delegation. For example, the provincial Whip could not take any action if such a member did not attend sittings. The only thing that the provincial Whip could do, would be to report the matter to the provincial legislature. He said that he supported the view that there was a need for a Chief Whip of the Council, and that that person should be elected from the permanent delegates themselves.
The Chairperson said that most parliaments had moved away from the concept of having a Chief Whip of the House.
The Deputy Chairperson said that he supported the view that the matter be referred back to the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules.
Mr Moosa said that the National Council of Provinces was a unique institution and that there had been a deliberate attempt to ensure that there was a strong provincial influence in the Council. He was concerned that the character of the House should not be lost.
Agreed that the matter be referred to the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules for further discussion and consideration.
8. Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements:
The Chairperson indicated that given that the Subcommittee had not met since reporting to the Joint Rules Committee on 29 October 2002, there was no report from the Subcommittee.
9. Report of the Subcommittee on International Relations:
The Chairperson said that the Subcommittee had not held any further meetings subsequent to reporting to the Joint Rules Committee on 29 October 2002. The Chairperson indicated that two matters were still outstanding, namely the formula for delegations and the names of the Council members for the various desks that had been established.
The Chief Whip indicated that names of members of the Council had been submitted.
10. Report of the Subcommittee on Support for Members:
Ms Kgoali delivered the report. She said that the Subcommittee had not been very successful in receiving comments from parties regarding the training programme. The Subcommittee had therefore prepared a draft programme on the basis of inputs that had been received.
Ms Kgoali highlighted those topics which had been included in the training programme. She indicated that the training would be a joint process. She said that the Subcommittee had found it difficult to meet given the full legislative programme. She asked whether it would be possible to set aside one day on which Subcommittees of the Joint Rules Committee could meet.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the draft programme be circulated and that the Whips should inform members that it was compulsory for them to attend the training sessions.
Mr Ackermann said that the Subcommittee should determine what the training needs of Members were and then to prepare a programme accordingly. He said that the draft programme appeared to be a series of lectures by professors.
The Chairperson said that the programme had been formulated on the basis of the needs indicated by members. The Chairperson said that she agreed that there should be a more interactive process and suggested that rather than have lectures, it would be more beneficial to have panel discussions.
Report of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability:
Ms Nkuna delivered the Report.
She said that the Subcommittee had looked into the Corder Report and thereafter made recommendations to the Joint Rules Committee. The final Report of the Subcommittee had been submitted to the Joint Rules Committee on 29 October 2002.
Given the recommendations that were made, the Subcommittee had requested that the a special meeting of the Joint Rules Committee be held to consider the Report.
The Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers had received a request to convene a workshop to consider the Report. The Presiding Officers were planning to do so.
12. Report of the Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation:
Mr Setona delivered the Report.
Mr Setona said that the Subcommittee had submitted an interim report to the Joint Rules Committee on 29 October 2002. It was envisaged that a workshop on the Report would be held early next year. He indicated that Chapter 8 of the Report dealt with the specific role of the NCOP as envisaged in section 146 of the Constitution.
13. Sanctions for non-attendance of Members:
The Chairperson said that although the Council had formulated a rule to sanction members for not attending meetings, the Council needed a procedure to be able to execute the sanction.
The Council needed to consider issues such as what fines should be imposed. The Council also needed to consider the way in which the Assembly was dealing with the issue of leave for Members.
14. Powers and Responsibilities of Structures in Parliament:
The Chairperson said that parties needed to provide feedback on the draft Bill regulating the financial affairs of Parliament, particularly with respect to how the Bill links in with the current Joint Rules which gives various powers to the Presiding Officers and the Joint Rules Committee.
15. Time limit for reply to Questions:
The Chairperson said that she had requested that the Whips consider the matter and submit proposals on the matter.
Delayed replies to Questions:
The Chairperson said that the Presiding Officers were concerned at the large number of Questions for written reply that were not replies to within the prescribed time period, and were converted to Questions for oral reply.
Problems with language of amending Bills:
The Chairperson said that comments from parties were required on the issue of language in respect of Bills which amended existing pieces of legislation.
18. Executive procedure for ratification and deposit of instruments:
The Chairperson said that the matter of delays in the deposit of instruments had been raised with the Leader of Government Business. Parliament should be kept informed of what had been done once instruments had been approved.
19. Report of the Subcommittee on the Council Budget:
Mr Ralane said that the NCOP component of the Joint Subcommittee on the Budget had not had an opportunity to meet as such, but that it was a matter which would be looked at in the new year.
20. Any other business:
The Chairperson said that since Mr Moosa would not be returning to the Council in the new year, she wanted to express her thanks to him for the work that he had done in the National Council of Provinces, and to wish him success in his future endeavours.
The meeting adjourned at 13h00.
G N M Pandor, MP
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES
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