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MINUTES OF THE NCOP RULES COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON
28 MARCH 2001 AT 1OHOO IN THE NCOP CHAMBER
G N M Pandor (Chairperson)
J L Kgoali
M V Moosa
T S Setona
M A Sulliman
M E Surty (Chief whip)
M P Themba
Staff in attendance: B N Nonyane; J A Borien; F van der Horst; Z Adhikarie; M D Ramurunzi,
Apologies: M L Mushwana; B N Dlulane; F N Lubidla; K D S Durr; J O TIhagale.
The Chairperson took the chair and declared the meeting opened.
Adoption of agenda
The agenda was adopted with the addition of item 11 "Refurbishment of the NCOP chamber" -
Consideration of the minutes of the 19 September 2000
Minutes were adopted with the following amendments, item 11:6 to amend the acronym "SADEC" to read "SADC".
Item 11:11 the word "set aright" to read "set right".
Report of Subcommittee on Review of NCOP Rules
The Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Review of NCOP Rules (Mr Moosa) indicated that the subcommittee has not met. However, he outlined issues that arose in the last NCOP Rules Committee meeting as follows:
The definition of the word "member" in the Rules of the NCOP
The Chairperson of the NCOP indicated that the definition of a "member" as contained in the NCOP Rules does not comply with the definition as contained in the Constitution. She further, indicated that the amendment of the definition is not meant to exclude the provincial legislatures, but rather to draw that distinctive role that permanent and special delegates play in terms of the Constitution.
In response Mr M V Moosa said that at the beginning of the NCOP the issue of distinction between permanent and special delegates was not favoured since it was felt that the NCOP is a House representing provinces. As a result it was going to be difficult for special delegates to participate in the activities of the House. However, he acknowledged that due to time and the experience drawn as a result, it might be proper that the definition be looked into.
In elaborating the Chairperson of the NCOP said that the definition as outlined in the rules create confusion as it fails to draw those distinction outlined in the Constitution. Therefore, the purpose for the amendment should not necessary be aimed at putting the permanent delegates above the special delegates, but rather to ensure that the definition as contained in the rules is consistent with the Constitution.
Mr Ackermann proposed that a rules book be up-dated and all the amendments agreed to previously be incorporated.
Resolved: That the Subcommittee on Review of Rules address the issue of a definition of a "member" and report back to the NCOP Rules Committee meeting.
Powers of subcommittees in particular in respect of rule 125C(b) "to monitor and oversee the implementation of policy.
The Chairperson of the NCOP said that following the deliberations which took place in the Joint Rules Committee meeting, which arose as a result of the Secretary to Parliament approaching Presiding Officers on the phrasing of the rule. It transpired that in practice the subcommittees were determining policy and applying it, without even coming before the House. As a result the Joint Rules were amended. Therefore, it would be proper that the NCOP rules are amended to reflect the amendments made to the Joint Rules.
Mr Moosa indicated that it has always been that the NCOP Rules Committee meeting is the second highest structure within the NCOP. Therefore, the subcommittees of the NCOP Rules Committee do not have any decision making power, except that they can only discuss issues and report to the rules committee. He said that it would be proper that the meeting discuss the issue in detail.
Resolved: That the Subcommittee on Review of Rules look into the matter arid make the necessary recommendations to the NCOP Rules Committee meeting.
Time allocated for oral reply to questions
Mr Moosa reported that it was recommended by the whips meeting held on the 14 February 2001, that the time for questions to members of the executive be increased to one hour. He further, proposed that the meeting adopt the recommendations for the amendment of rule 237(1) to increase the time for questions to one hour.
Resolved: That the amendments be agreed to.
The Chairperson raised a concern in regard to time members spent reading motions during the sitting of the House. She further, requested that the Whippery look into the matter, in particular with the view to develop guidelines.
The Chief Whip of the Council endorsed the suggestion and indicated that he was thinking of having the matter put on the agenda for the coming workshop for members.
Resolved: That the Whippery develop guidelines regarding time for motions, in addition a list must be provided to Presiding Officers before every sitting indicating time allocated to provinces for motions.
Lapsing of bills on the Order Paper
Mr Moosa reported that the proposed amendments to rule 130(1), does not address the inconsistencies drawn to him by staff. Therefore he would like the Subcommittee on Review of Rules to look into the matter and report to the Rules Committee meeting.
The Chairperson said that the matter relates to instances were after the National Assembly has passed a bill, and it refers it to the NCOP but the NCOP is not in a position to pass the bill on its last sitting. She posed a question, as to what should happen to these bills? She further said that by not acting on these bills the NCOP would be disregarding the decision of the National Assembly. She requested staff to clarify the matter.
In response Mr B N Nonyane indicated that rule 130(1) is inconsistent with section 75 (1)(a) and section 76 (1)(a) of the Constitution. Inso far as the above-mentioned rule provides for the lapsing of these bills if they happen to appear on the Order Paper of the last sitting of the Council and the Council does not pass, reject or amend them in terms of the Constitution.
Resolved: That the Subcommittee on Review of the Rules look into the matter and report back to the Rules Committee meeting.
Report of Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation
Mr Setona reported that due to time constraints and the local government elections that took place last year. The subcommittee was unable to meet regularly, in particular the NCOP component of the subcommittee, but that most meetings took place at the joint level.
He further outlined that legal advisers were asked to advise on the role of Parliament regarding subordinate legislation promulgated by the executive. And the following issues were identified;
a. not all legislation requires that subordinate legislation promulgated by the executive be refer to Parliament for approval or scrutiny;
b. some legislation requires that the regulations be tabled in the Government Gazette without Parliaments approval or disapproval;
c. while some legislation provides for the specific time frame within which Parliament must consider the regulations.
He said that most primary legislations do not even outline the procedure to be followed for the approval or disapproval of regulations. Thus the report by Prof Hugh Corder, is trying to address some of these issues. He also raised a concern on members attendance of subcommittee meetings. In conclusion he reported that the subcommittee would be presenting a comprehensive report of its activities before the end of June
The Chairperson of the NCOP asked political parties whether they had deliberated on the report at their respective caucuses.
In response Mr Lever said that some of the difficulties political parties had been experiencing was the time factor. Because in most instances there had not been enough time for parties to look into the report, as a result of some of the issues alluded to by Mr Setona.
The Chief whip said that the importance of the work of the subcommittee cannot be underestimated. However, he indicated some of the key challenges that the subcommittee would be faced with. Among others, he identified the departure of the co-chairperson of the subcommittee Ms P Jana. The issue of whether should there be a uniform procedure for dealing with delegated legislation, and capacity for the structures that might be identified to deal with these matters. He further, said that there is a great deal of literature on delegated legislation from the New Zealand and Australian jurisdiction, which he recommends to members to read.
Resolved: That political parties deliberate on the report at their respective caucuses, so as to be in a position to give meaningful contribution to the subcommittee meetings.
Report of the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements
The Chairperson said that due to the absence of the Chairperson of the subcommittee Mr Mushwana, the subcommittee does not have a written report However, she reported that there have been some complaints regarding parliamentary artwork. As a result the subcommittee had been looking at ways of preserving valuable parliamentary artwork. Among steps that would be taken are; all artwork which have been damaged would be repaired and in future all artwork would be stored in a more secured storage.
She further said that a temporary curator would be appointed to assist on preliminary work, and thereafter a committee consisting of members and expert would be appointed to work closely with the Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements. She also reported that the library is being refurbished to address members needs.
Subcommittee on Parliamentary Powers and Privileges.
The Chairperson reported that a draft Bill on Parliamentary Powers and Immunities had been circulated to all parties. of 4th April 2001 a meeting would be held were all parties are expected to submit their views on the draft Bill. Thereafter, the process would be moved forward.
Subcommittee on International Relations.
The Chairperson reported that the subcommittee met on 14 March 2001, and it transpired in the meeting that South Africa would be hosting a number of international conferences and meetings, which she would like members to participate. She further identified the Commonwealth conference of Presiding Officers (Africa Region), which would be held on 18-21 April 2001, and the United Nations World Conference on Racism, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances, which would be held in early September
She further reported that South Africa had agreed with the Inte-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to host a one day meeting of parliamentarians, a day before the conference. She said that at the moment discussions are underway to finalise the exact dates and venues, and once these had been finalised members would be informed accordingly.
She said that the ACPEU Parliamentary Assembly which normally holds two conferences annually had approached South Africa in the past to host one of its conferences. Unfortunately, South Africa had not being able to, due to budgeting. It is now that South Africa had budgeted to host one of the conference, which would be held in March 2002.
She also indicated that the whips had been asked to look into the formulae for members participation in international conferences. Since the current formulae which was formulated in 1994 is no longer adequate, because it does not include the NCOP. She said a report on this matter would be tabled in the next NCOP Rules Committee meeting.
She further reported that the NCOP had received two invitations to visit the senate of Gabon and Algeria. Also the NCOP is intending to invite the senate of Canada. The final dates for these visits would be communicated to members in due course.
The Chairperson of the NCOP informed the meeting that she attended a conference of African Senate in Moratonia, which was a success since it was well attended. She indicated that it was agreed that the conference would be held annually, and Morocco would be hosting the next conference followed by Burkinafaso and Namibia respectively.
She further reported that the Deputy Chairperson and Ms Ntlabathi are attending the SADC Parliamentary meeting in Namibia, and upon their return they would table a report.
Refurbishment of the NCOP Chamber
The Chairperson reported that the NCOP chamber was not designed to cater for the current arrangements, which takes into account SALGA's role. Therefore she felt that it would be proper that a proposal be submitted to address the current arrangements for the refurbishment of the Chamber.
She said that an architect had been asked to design the sitting arrangements. However, since the chamber had been declared a national monument, it was difficult to finalise the process since the heritage committee needs to approve any structural changes. Fortunately, the committee had approved and by early next year the chamber would be designed to accommodate both the executive and SALGA members.
Among some of the changes would be the sitting arrangements which would be in a horse shoe shape, electronic voting system and a podium for the executive to address the House would be installed. Including easy accessibility of the chamber by members with disabilities.
Mr Moosa asked if it was taken into account that the current seats are not good for the posture and the back.
In response the Chairperson said that an agonomist had been consulted to look into that matter and she is confident that the issue would be addressed.
The meeting adjourned at 12:30
G N M Pandor
Chairperson of the National
Council of Provinces
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