The Portfolio Committee convened virtually to receive a briefing by the Public Protector on an investigation into allegations of maladministration and improper conduct in connection with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Gauteng Horseracing Industry in 1997, which had subsequently led to the corporatisation of the horseracing industry in South Africa.
However, the Committee expressed its dismay that the 60-page report had been forwarded to the Members only the previous evening, which did not allow them sufficient time to study it and prepare for the meeting. They therefore agreed that the presentation of the Public Protector would be postponed to a later date and time.
The Committee report on its visit to the Robben Island Museum, the Mayibuye Archives Centre at the University of the Western Cape, and the Artscape Theatre Centre from 7 to 9 June, dated 15 June 2021, was adopted.
Public Protector's report deferred
Mr D Joseph (DA) asked the Committee if Members were comfortable with the first point of the agenda, which was the briefing by the Public Protector on an investigation into allegations of maladministration and improper conduct in connection with a memorandum of understanding (MOU) entered into between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Gauteng Horseracing Industry in 1997, which had subsequently led to the corporatisation of the horseracing industry in South Africa.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Joseph for raising the question. The Committee had received the presentation, which was 60 pages long, from the Public Protector last evening.
Mr M Zondi (ANC) said that he received the report from the Public Protector last night. In the Committee, it was a norm that they did not deal with an item on the agenda that was sent to them the night or the day before the meeting. They knew at the beginning of the month that they would have this meeting today. He raised this point as a response, and said that the Committee did not have enough time to go through the Public Protector's presentation or ample time to discuss the presentation. He did not see them discussing this matter today.
Ms V Malomane (ANC) agreed with Mr Zondi, and said that the report was received only the day before, and consisted of 60 pages. She requested that the Committee meet with the Public Protector at another time, as Members could not finish the report.
Ms V Van Dyk (DA) agreed with the previous Members' sentiments, and expressed her disappointment. She commented that the Committee could not conduct proper oversight if they received their documents so late.
The Chairperson acknowledged the Committee's comments. She asked the Committee Secretary why the Committee had received this report only the evening before.
The Committee Secretary responded that the Committee had communicated with the Office of the Public Protector on 4 October, to inform it of the tabling of the report. He had requested that the presentation be sent to the Committee on 15 October. Since then, there had been communication between the parties to receive the presentation. The Committee had received the presentation only last evening.
A representative of the Office of the Public Protector said that the report had been issued in 2019. When the Office of the Speaker handed the report over to the Committee, the main issue was that the report should have been given more time to read. The Public Protector had sent the presentation. She apologised for the time compliance issue, commenting that the report had been on the Public Protector’s website since 2019, when it was first issued. The meeting convened with the Committee was just a presentation, which summarised that report. This report had been taken on review by Phumelela Gaming and Leisure, the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the President of the Gambling Board. The Public Protector had wanted to share with the Committee what the report was all about. She indicated that the Public Protector had to postpone their hearings so that they could accommodate the Committee. She said it was up to the Committee on whether to proceed with the meeting or not.
The Chairperson assured the Public Protector that the Committee was interested in their report, but there was a norm that the administrator in this Committee must ask those who were to present, to ensure that their presentations reached the Members of the Committee in time.
Mr T Mhlongo (DA) acknowledged all the comments and agreed with the other Members -- they did not accept a presentation that came late. For the Committee to conduct effective oversight, it was important for it to engage and understand the presentation. He requested that the Committee defer this item to the next meeting.
The Chairperson ruled that the Committee’s office must arrange another meeting with the Public Protector at a suitable date so that the Committee could conduct their oversight.
The Office of the Public Protector thanked the Chairperson.
The Chairperson said that the staff of the Public Protector’s office had failed the staff of the Committee’s office. One of the Committee’s office staff had reminded the Public Protector’s office about the presentation last week. She said that the Committee would reconvene with the Public Protector at a suitable date and time.
Mr B Madlingozi (EFF) asked the Public Protector if there would be additional information that they would present on.
A member of the Office of the Public Protector apologised for the delay in the submission of the presentation to the Committee, and said that they would make sure this did not happen again. The only presentation that they had dealt with the report and findings, and there was additional information regarding the outcome of the court process. This was all that had been asked to be presented to the Committee, hence the 60 pages. She asked that the Public Protector be excused from the meeting.
The Chairperson thanked the Public Protector, and excused and them from the meeting.
The Chairperson reported that the Committee had lost its Content Advisor.
Mr Madlingozi asked if there was a report that was different to the one that was sent yesterday.
Mr Mhlongo was concerned and said it was wrong that the Committee had received the report the night before the meeting was to be adjourned. If a report or document came in late, they had to defer the meeting.
Mr C Sibisi (NFP) seconded Mr Mhlongo’s remarks. Consistency must be applied in this matter. They were not targeting the Public Protector’s report which came in late. They must defer the matter.
Ms Fiona Clayton, Committee Researcher, said that they had a meeting scheduled with the Department on its annual report on Friday. Those deliberations must be included in the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR). The two versions sent out were the same. The second version was merely an edited version of the first.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Clayton, and said the Committee would defer this report. They were going to rely only on their Office, and had to check what they could do for next week regarding prioritising both reports. The Committee relied on the administration for the timeframes of adopting the BRRR. The Committee would hear from the administrators after the meeting was adjourned.
The Committee report on the visit to the Robben Island Museum, the Mayibuye Archives Centre at the University of the Western Cape, and the Artscape Theatre Centre from 7 to 9 June, dated 15 June 2021, was adopted. Mr Zondi moved for its adoption, and Ms Malomane seconded.
The meeting was adjourned.
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