The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation convened on Zoom to adopt a number of outstanding minutes and Committee reports. It was noted that a large set of minutes were adopted as it included the meetings related to the water portfolio when the Committee was still part of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation.
Members were not pleased that a large number of minutes were adopted in one sitting. They felt it did not allow Members to adequately engage in the content of the minutes. There was also displeasure that the Committee staff was not able to share the minutes on the screen as it did a disservice to the public following the proceedings of the meeting. Members suggested the Committee adopt a system where minutes of the previous meeting were consistently adopted at the next meeting to prevent a backlog and allow the proceedings to be fresh in the minds of Members.
The Chairperson greeted Members and indicated that the meeting may proceed.
The Chairperson emphasised the rule that Members must put their cameras on when they spoke since Parliament has persistently requested Members to do so. Since those meetings are recorded, the South African public needs to know what their public representatives looked like when they spoke. If there is an internet challenge, he suggested Members at least have a profile image displayed.
The Chairperson remarked on the struggles which some municipalities faced after the local government election but he was confident that those issues would be sorted out in due course.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretariat to display the meeting minutes on the screen.
The Secretariat struggled to do so. Since minutes had been sent to Members prior to the meeting, it was suggested Members proceed without having to display the minutes on the screen.
Adoption of meeting minutes
The Committee adopted its minutes for 12 February, 23 February, 9 March, 31 March, 11 May, 28 May, 1 June, 13 July, 14 July, 27 July, 31 August, 9 November, 16 November and 23 November 2021.
Ms M Mohlala (EFF) was not pleased with the manner in which the Committee handled adoption of the minutes. She said that the Committee needed to flight those draft minutes on the screen so that the public could see the content. It was inexcusable and unprofessional that because one support staff member struggled to display the content on the screen, the minutes were not flighted. She thought the Committee would have other members of the support staff assist in such events.
Ms Mohlala was also not pleased with the Committee’s approach to schedule a separate meeting to adopt a large number of outstanding minutes. Members need to understand the content of the minutes before they were adopted. Working in such a manner could not be beneficial to Members. She suggested the Committee adopt meeting minutes on a more regular basis.
The Chairperson fully agreed with Ms Mohlala’s view. But he reminded Ms Mohlala that those minutes that had just been adopted were the legacy minutes of the previous Committee [Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation]. This Committee [Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation] started from 13 August 2021. So in terms of adopting minutes, this Committee was on the right track as the Committee only adopted three sets of meeting minutes (dated 9, 16 and 23 November) which solely related to the current Committee’s work.
The Chairperson also indicated that he had accepted the apologies from the Committee secretariat for their inability to flight the draft minutes because one Secretary’s child was sick and the other one was in a space with poor internet connectivity and thus could not flight the minutes. He understood their predicaments.
Adoption of Committee reports
The Committee considered and adopted the following reports.
-Committee Report on the Second and Third Quarter Expenditure of the Department of Water and Sanitation for the 2020/21 financial year
-Committee Report on the Annual Reports and Financial Performance of the Water Boards under the Department of Water and Sanitation for the 2019/20 financial year
-Committee Report on its Oversight Visit to Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Works and Engagement with Gauteng Department of Water and Sanitation on the Contamination of Water Sources
-Committee Report on the Governance, Budgetary and Legislative Protocols Governing the Treaties between South Africa and the Kingdom of Lesotho in respect of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phases One and Two.
The Chairperson pointed out the importance of Committee Members and the Committee secretariat working together to ensure that the content of Committee reports accurately reflect what had transpired during those meetings.
Mr T Mboweni (ANC) suggested the Committee avoid accumulating minutes for adoption in one go. He suggested the Committee should adopt the minutes of the last meeting at the next meeting and maintain this. Otherwise it would be a dereliction of duty for Members. The Committee secretariat must also make sure that Members receive those draft minutes on time.
The Chairperson agreed with the suggestion. He explained that the Committee had previously included the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements which made the areas covered too vast for Members to expeditiously attend to all matters. But as now the committees were operating independently, he was confident that the Committee would do better.
The Chairperson noted that in a joint meeting of all committee Chairpersons, concerns were raised regarding the pressures on Committee administrative personnel, the attitude of Chairpersons and Members’ adequate preparation for Committee meetings. He emphasised the importance of Members being adequately prepared when attending meetings.
The meeting was adjourned.
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