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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE
27 May 2004
These DRAFT minutes were provided by the National Assembly Table Staff
Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
MEETING OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE
Chairperson: Speaker of the National Assembly
Secretary : Masibulele Xaso, National Assembly Table Division
DRAFT MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS: 26 MAY 2004 AT 08:30
Mbete B (Speaker)
Mahlangu-Nkabinde G L (Deputy Speaker)
Bhengu F Masutha T M
Chohan-Kota F I Mfundisi I S
Dipico E M Modisenyane L J
Doidge G Q M Motubatse-Hounkpatin S D
Doman W P Nefolovhodwe P J
Ellis M J Newhoudt-Druchen W S
Frolick C T Ngaleka E
Gibson D H M Njikelana S T
Green L M Nhleko N P
Greyling C H F Rajbally S
Holomisa B H Rwexana S P
Jeffery J J Seaton S A
Johnson C B Sibanyoni J B
Kalyan S V Sithole D J
Landers L T Thabethe E
Mabe L L Tshwete P
Maluleke D K Van der Merwe J H
Van Wyk A
Staff in Attendance: K Hahndiek (Secretary to National Assembly), K Mansura (Undersecretary), N Ismail (Undersecretary), E Palmer (Legal Services).
- Apologies (Agenda Item 1)
- Adoption of agenda (Additional Agenda Item)
An apology was received from Mr K O Bapela.
Mr Van der Merwe requested that the IFP's request for a fourth whip be added onto the agenda. The Speaker responded that she would prefer to deal with this matter privately rather than in a public meeting. Ms Seaton's proposal for a discussion on members' salary increases was agreed to. Mr Gibson's proposal for a discussion on the payment of a month's salary to non-returning members was also agreed to.
Mr Jeffery noted that the agenda was virtually a continuation of the last meeting of the previous Rules Committee. In this regard, there ought to be orientation of especially new members to familiarise them with issues before the Rules Committee. The Speaker proposed that a discussion on each issue could be contextualised by providing background information.
Ms Seaton indicated that documentation was received late thereby making it difficult for members to adequately prepare for this meeting. The Speaker noted the comment and indicated that the situation would be improved henceforth. Mr Mulder requested an update on payment of party support.
The following items were therefore added to the agenda:
- Salary increases as item 8.
- Payment of a month's salary to non-returning members as item 9.
- Payment of party support as item 10.
3. Size of Joint Monitoring Committees (Agenda Item 3)
Mr G Q M Doidge indicated that some research had been conducted on how the previous Joint Monitoring Committees operated. He clarified that his proposal pertained to the establishment and composition only of the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women and the Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth and Disabled Persons. He indicated that the previous composition was: 17 Assembly members and 9 Council members. Attendance registers of these committees revealed that in respect of one of the committees, eleven members did not attend a single meeting for the whole of 2003. Attempts were made to schedule meetings on Fridays; however, this also did not assist. He
proposed that the Assembly composition be reduced from 17 to 13 members as follows: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and other parties 2. The Council would be consulted to establish whether it would also adjust its membership.
He noted that in respect of ad hoc committees that were established on 6 May, already it had been reported to him that some parties were experiencing difficulty taking up their full membership. The membership of these committees also might have to be reconsidered. He said that the reduction in size of the Joint Monitoring Committees should not affect participation by parties as Rules made it possible for members to participate in any committee. He indicated that extensive work was underway, in consultation with the Council, regarding the scheduling of meetings of these committees.
Mr Gibson supported the proposal by Mr Doidge and proposed, however, that the composition of the committees be reconsidered in six months time. He said that this review could enable especially smaller parties to rearrange their membership in
committees. Mr Nhleko indicated that the ANC agreed with the principle of reducing the size of these committees. He proposed further that this issue should form part of the policy discussion on the overall rationalisation of committees. In this regard, he asked that timeframes be set for the completion of the restructuring process.
Mr Jeffery asked whether there was a need to establish these committees immediately and also whether they would have a permanent status. Mr Doidge responded that it was necessary to immediately establish them so as to prepare for consideration of certain issues within the budget vote on the Presidency.
- The two Joint Monitoring Committees to be established, by House resolution, with reduced numbers in respect of Assembly membership from 17 to 13, as follows: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and other parties 2.
- Parties to submit names before the end of the week, on the basis of agreed formula.
- The overall structuring of committees to be completed by the beginning of the third term.
4. Scheduling of workshop on the parliamentary budget process (Agenda Item 4)
Ms Chohan-Kota sought clarity on whether this item was intended to address the issue of the workshop for members to discuss parliament's processing of the budget. The Speaker responded that the priority was the actual budget of Parliament and also made reference to the existence of the ad hoc Forum on the Parliamentary Budget which had been established by House resolution on 6 May. She said that she was still awaiting some names for appointment to the Forum. She said that there was currently discussion between management and Presiding
Officers regarding Parliament's involvement in the national budget process, adding that Parliament's budget could not be considered in isolation of the
national budget. Ms Chohan-Kota indicated that the issue of timeframes was pertinent in regard to submission of Parliament's budget proposals to Treasury and also cautioned against the possibility of missing these deadlines. She indicated that the ANC would propose a separate budget workshop process for members, adding that there was a need for a broader discussion by members around budget processes.
The Speaker pointed out that an attempt had been made during members' induction to schedule a workshop on the budget; however, this had had to be
postponed because of cabinet committees meetings that were scheduled in the same period.
5. Managing of notices of motion (Agenda Item 5)
Mr Hahndiek explained that the process of selection of members' motions and programming them for debate was left incomplete by the previous Parliament. He said that a mechanism would need to be established to deal with this matter.
He indicated that the Chief Whips' Forum of the previous Parliament had considered the issue. Mr Bhengu proposed that the matter be referred to the Forum for consideration.
- The determination of a mechanism for selection of members' motions and programming for debate be referred to the Chief Whips' Forum for consideration.
6. Ruling on first speaker to reply to President's debate (Agenda Item 6)
The Speaker explained that this item related to the ruling she had given in the House on 25 May in response to a point of order by Mr Gibson on the above matter. She indicated that extracts had been circulated from previous correspondence between Speaker Ginwala and Mr Leon, constitutional references to Leader of Opposition, and the Hansard of Speaker Ginwala's ruling on this issue in February 2004. She said that Dr Ginwala had in her ruling made reference to a decision taken on the issue in 1996 where an agreement had apparently been reached for the Leader of Opposition to have the right of first reply to the President's state-of-the-nation address. She pointed out that she had
included the item on the agenda for members to deliberate on it with a view to a decision.
Mr Nhleko said that there was a need for a comprehensive discussion on the matter but not necessarily in the present forum. He intimated that the proposed discussion would need to address itself to the provisions of section 57(2)(d) of the Constitution which related to the need for the rules of the National Assembly to provide for the recognition of the Leader of the largest opposition party in the Assembly as the Leader of the Opposition. He said that the issue of recognition of the Leader of the Opposition had never been dealt with. The agreement of 1996 that had been referred to was not a rule and had not been addressed between 1997 and 2004. In this regard, it was important to be guided by policy. He pointed out that neither the Constitution nor the Rules make reference to "official" opposition. The issue about the leader of the largest minority party being referred to as Leader of the Opposition needed to be clarified. Did the title of "Leader of the Opposition" mean that that leader represented all the
opposition parties in Parliament? The discussion would therefore need to be geared towards policy formulation.
Mr Ellis argued that the Democratic Alliance previously had consistently raised the issue of the role of the Leader of the Opposition. He agreed that a discussion on the matter was necessary and expressed the hope that attempts would not be made to minimise the role of the Leader of the Opposition, adding that the issue was not about Mr Leon as a person but about the Leader of the Opposition who could be from any party in Parliament. Mr Jeffery supported the proposal for a thorough debate on this issue, adding that the position in our Parliament was unlike other Westminster systems which are largely two party systems, with one party in government and another outside of government. The difference in the number of seats for opposition parties in the South African Parliament was not that marginal. He highlighted some inconsistencies between the Rules and the Constitution, namely, the Constitution makes reference to the Leader of the Opposition whereas the Rules make reference to the leader of the largest minority party. In this regard both Rule 21 (which makes reference to leader of the largest party not in government as Leader of the Opposition) and Rule 60 (which makes reference to leader of the largest minority party) seemed to be narrower than section 57(2)(d) (which makes reference to leader of the largest opposition party in the Assembly as Leader of the Opposition) of the Constitution
Mr Van der Merwe suggested that the matter be referred to an appropriate forum for discussion. The Speaker responded that the Rules Committee needed to discuss the matter further. She said that the issue was not just about order of speakers in debate but also had implications for election and/or appointment of members to such forums as Pan African Parliament and Judicial Service
Commission. Mr Gibson indicated that he had drawn up a memorandum on the issue of the Leader of the Opposition which had been sent to the Speaker and circulated to all parties. He requested that parties consider the memorandum and
respond. Mr Van der Merwe also suggested that the research unit of Parliament be asked to conduct research on this issue.
- A special meeting of the Rules Committee to be convened during the week of 1 June to discuss the role of the Leader of the Opposition.
- Staff to compile and circulate relevant documentation, including Mr Gibson's memorandum, to assist discussion on this matter, including comparative research on the subject.
- Documents to be circulated at least 2 days before the meeting.
7. Legacy reports (Agenda Item 7)
The Speaker explained that legacy reports had been circulated to members. Mr Hahndiek added that the purpose of the reports was to bring to the attention of the Rules Committee issues that were left unfinished in the previous Parliament. The Speaker indicated that some of the reports related to bills that were before Parliament and needed to be revived. Mr Landers asked whether the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Bill had been assented to by the President. The Speaker responded that it had not been assented to and that Parliament was in contact with the Presidency in that regard.
- Staff to prepare a document that indicates outstanding issues and recommendations on each legacy issue.
- Members to prioritise the more urgent legacy reports.
- Salary increases (Additional Agenda Item)
Ms Seaton said that the report of the Goldstone Commission had indicated that there would be a yearly general salary increase, one per cent below CPI. She mentioned that she had inquired from the Finance Section of Parliament who informed her that there would be no salary increase in the current year as there was no legislation requiring an increase to be effected.
- The Presiding Officers urgently to follow up this issue.
- Payment of one month's salary to non-returning members (Additional Agenda Item)
The Speaker reported that before the 2004 elections the outgoing Presiding Officers had written to the Presidency indicating a need for a Presidential Proclamation to facilitate the payment of an additional month's salary to non-returning members. A discussion was also held with the Director-General in the Presidency who informed the Presiding Officers that the matter had been referred to the now Moseneke Commission which replaced the Goldstone Commission. The Commission had been asked to expedite the matter. Ms Kalyan reported that the Finance Section had indicated that it would still take another four weeks to process payments after the President had signed the Proclamation.
- The Presiding Officers to follow up on progress with this matter.
- The Presiding Officers to direct the Finance Section to ensure that payments were made immediately once the Proclamation had been signed.
- Payment of party support (Additional Agenda Item)
Dr Mulder indicated that parties had only received financial support up to 13 April 2004 and were finding it difficult to pay staff.
- The Speaker's office to follow up with the Finance Section.
The meeting adjourned at 09:35.
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