Processing of the Zondo Commission Report

Rules of the National Assembly

04 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The National Assembly Rules Committee met on a virtual platform to consider Parliament's Implementation Plan for the State Capture Commission Report and President’s Response.

The Secretary to the National Assembly took the Committee through the 16 recommendations that relate to Parliament oversight and accountability and specified to which parliamentary committee each was assigned as the designated authority to ensure the recommendation was implemented. He asked the Committee to indicate if they approved each designated authority. This was contained in Parliament's Implementation Plan

The meeting was not quorate with only nine Rules Committee members instead of the required ten, and only three political parties present. Therefore, it was agreed that this meeting would serve only as an information session and that the Committee would reconvene to make decisions at a meeting which must happen before Parliament rises on 2 December 2022. This would also give Members the opportunity to discuss the document with their parties before the meeting reconvenes.

The Secretary continued with Parliament's Implementation Plan and outlined how Parliament would oversee the Implementation Plan of the Executive as noted in the President's response to the Zondo Report.

The Report of the Subcommittee on the Review of Assembly Rules was also presented. Approval of the Subcommittee recommendations and discussion on two matters - interpellations and an oversight committee for the Presidency - would also take place at the next meeting.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson noted the apologies from the Chief Whip and Deputy Speaker. The agenda for the meeting was adopted. The draft minutes for 2 September 2022 were considered and adopted. She handed over to the Secretary to the National Assembly to deal with matters arising.

Matters Arising
Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, said that the report from the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules had been referred to the Committee and it would be considered as agenda item two today. This Committee referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee the matters regarding Members of Parliament and what had occurred in the House during a sitting. That Committee had not yet met due to some of its Members being busy with the Budget Review and Recommendations process and the Section 194 Committee. Arrangements had to be made for it to meet within the next two weeks to consider the matters.

The Chairperson said that it is not good that matters stand over for a long time. They should be dealt with speedily so that the affected Members can be alerted and are aware of the decisions made by the Powers and Privileges Committee. There is no reason why these issues should take so long to be dealt with and that Members should make the time to deal with them.

Zondo Commission recommendations
Mr Xaso said that the document on the screen had been circulated to Members the previous day. Parliament had been receiving reports from the Commission since March 2022 and the full set was received in October 2022 which also came with the response and implementation plan from the Executive. Having gone through all the reports that have been submitted to Parliament and documents available in the public domain, the briefing document he presented to the Committee today dealt with four aspects: recommendations relating to parliamentary oversight and accountability; President’s response plan; monitoring of activities of Parliament as they relate to this report; parliamentary reforms.

The Commission has produced 353 recommendations, some within the purview of Parliament and others with the Executive. This meeting will deal with process and not the merits of the recommendations but rather how Parliament ought to process these recommendations. The presentation would deal with 16 recommendations that relate to Parliament and what was proposed for processing each recommendation.

There are recommendations that relate to matters that are currently with the executive and he recommended that those recommendations be forwarded to the respective portfolio and select committees and joint committees where applicable.

On matters that deal with institutional matters and how Parliament should be run as an institution, he recommended that the Joint Rules Committee and the Rules Committee of the two Houses monitor the implementation of those recommendations.

For the recommendations that will be referred to the Committees of Parliament, he proposed that the House Chairpersons of Committees in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces should monitor the implementation of those recommendations and they should receive quarterly reports from the committees and through the Forum of Chairpersons to deal with those recommendations.

Mr Xaso went through the 16 recommendations that relate to Parliament as outlined in Parliament’s Implementation Plan which also detailed the status of the recommendation, designated authority and timeline.

The Chairperson recommended that the Committee deal with each of the recommendations before moving forward to the President's response.

The Chairperson said that Recommendation 1 about an oversight committee for the Presidency has been discussed over a long period of time. The designated authority to deal with this in the National Assembly Rules Committee. She asked if the Committee agreed to this and if they would like to give inputs on the matter.

Ms S Gwarube (DA) said that the matter is going to be contained in the report of Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules because it did engage with it in its last meeting. The fact that it is a part of the broader recommendations is quite instructive to move on it. She agreed with the designated authority and that it needs to be acted on as it has been a long time coming.

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) agreed on the designated authority. She noted that when the meeting started there was not a quorum.

Mr G Koornhof (ANC) said that what is being discussed is the process – the Committee needs to approve the process that will be followed. This process is based on three documents: the State Capture Commission recommendations, the Response Plan from the President and the missing part is then the views of political parties. He noted in the presentation there is a column dedicated to timeframes for each of these recommendations, but nothing has been inserted. This is needed. He did not have a problem with Recommendation 1.

The Chairperson clarified that before discussing the recommendations, Mr Xaso noted that the Committee is dealing with the process only. The discussion is thus whether the Committee agrees on the designated authority. Timelines are important and will need to be added.

Ms D Dlakude (ANC) proposed that as only two parties are present in this meeting, that both reports be sent to all Rules Committee members. When the Committee reconvenes it will be easier to participate and it will go quicker. She noted that some Members did not receive the documents prior to the meeting.

The Chairperson said that this proposal gives the Committee a way forward as it will not be able to make decisions as the meeting does not have quorum and the Committee is still discussing the process. She asked that the Committee give inputs on Ms Dlakude’s suggestion so that the Committee does not have a long meeting without a proper conclusion.

Ms Lesoma agree with Ms Dlakude. She asked how quorum is determined for the Rules Committee. Political parties that do not have representatives present must be contacted, otherwise it may result in accusations that the majority party is not dealing with this matter. What is the turnaround time for consultation with political parties and another Committee meeting? There needs to be a formal decision on the matter before Parliament goes on recess.

Ms Gwarube asked what the quorum requirements are. Notice of the meeting and the agenda was circulated in advance. The work that needs to be done should not be halted by those who are absent as the work is urgent. Could the Committee look at the 16 recommendations and agree on the process and timelines otherwise what would the point of this meeting be?

Mr Koornhof asked that Mr Xaso present the remainder of his presentation and then a decision can be taken on a way forward on the process.

The Chairperson said that there were two out of 14 political parties present in the meeting. She is not sure what constitutes quorum, whether it is the number of political parties or the number of people present in the meeting. There are 40 people in the meeting but that does not mean anything. The Committee should look at the process and once that is completed and quorum is reached, the Committee can move forward with approval. She asked that Mr Xaso clarify this. There is an issue with parties that do not attend the Rules Committee meetings. The parties were informed by the National Assembly Programme Committee (NAPC) of this meeting and the important matters that would be discussed. Parties were desperate to receive these reports so that decisions can be made on how to take the process forward. She was very displeased by the lack of attendance.

Ms Z Majozi (IFP) noted that she was present representing the IFP and apologized for being late.

The Chairperson noted this and said three parties were now present in the meeting.

Mr Xaso said that the Rules would enable the Committee to continue if a third of Members are present in the meeting but to make decisions, ten Members would be required to be present. There are only nine currently present. He said that they were reaching out to other Committee members that are absent in order for quorum to be reached. One considers members rather than parties

Mr A Papo (ANC) said that not all 14 parties are members of this Committee and therefore are not required to attend. He added that if the recommendations are presented now, the Committee can reconvene before 2 December 2022 to take decisions on what has been proposed.

Ms M Boroto (ANC), House Chairperson: Internal Arrangements, said that from the explanation offered by Mr Xaso, the Committee cannot make decisions at this stage. However, presentation should continue and then the Committee can reconvene to make decisions at a later date.

The Chairperson said that Mr Xaso can then proceed to present the Plan of Action that was presented by the President. The Committee can internalize the information and go back to their parties and consult them so that a full report can be given in the next meeting on where they stand.

Implementation Plan of the Executive Branch
Mr Xaso said that Parliament’s role in this regard is to hold the Executive accountable. The presentation was structured around:
- Dealing with perpetrators of State Capture
- Reforms to prevent future occurrence of State Capture
- Broader Systemic Reforms Arising from the work of the Commission.

Each section included the recommendation, activities and the committee/structure tasked with dealing with it. To ensure that these recommendations achieve the required outcomes, it was proposed that the structures identified must report to the House Chairpersons for Committees in the two Houses of Parliament, on a quarterly basis.

Dr Leon Gabriel, Manager: Knowledge and Information Services, said that the Parliamentary Research Unit worked through all six parts of the Commission Report and developed a special bulletin which was distributed to Members of Parliament on 3 October 2022. The bulletin extracts, in table format, all the recommendations and provides a summary of the context that informed the recommendation highlighting the most pertinent matters in the Commission discussions. The bulletin covers all six parts of the Commission Report and the various volumes within each. The summary also proposes the parliamentary committees that should oversee executive action in terms of the specific recommendation and which agency or government department should take action for each recommendation. The bulletin does not make any pronouncement on the feasibility or validity of the recommendations but is merely to assist Members to engage with the entire report and to focus easily on matters of specific interest to a government portfolio or members of government.

The Chairperson said that Members can take these reports back to their parties for the purpose of consultation so that a meaningful debate can take place at the next meeting.

Mr Anthony Papo, Parliamentary Counsellor to the Deputy President as Leader of Government Business, asked if the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules report will be presented.

Ms Gwarube asked if another meeting will be set up to do what this meeting set out to do – which is to adopt the process that the Rules Committee is going to take in dealing with the Zondo Report.

The Chairperson said that Ms Gwarube’s understanding is correct.

Mr Papo clarified that the process is being recommended in this meeting but the process will be formally adopted in the next meeting.

Report of the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules
Mr Xaso said that the Speaker referred a number of matters to the Subcommittee that included:
(a) Technical Amendments to the Rules for Virtual/Hybrid Sittings;
(b) Consideration of the principle of a ruling (Ms N Mazzone);
(c) Procedures to regulate display of placards / objects in House as well as use of virtual backgrounds;
(d) Opportunities for Members to raise matters in House on questions to Executive for oral reply.
In the 13 and 27 May 2022 subcommittee meeting, items (a) and (b) were dealt with.

On 2 September further matters were referred to the subcommittee:
(a) Consideration of report on delayed replies to written questions and guidelines related thereto;
(b) Review of Operating Procedures in Rules (Appendix C) on removal of Members from House;
(c) Proposal to reintroduce interpellations (Ms S Gwarube);
(d) Proposal for oversight committee over Presidency (Mr N Singh).

In the 21 October 2022 meeting, these matters were dealt with and the May outstanding matters. The recommendations for each item were noted.

The Chairperson asked how the Committee would like to proceed. There should have been a Joint Rules committee meeting as well because a lot of what is discussed affects that committee.

Ms Boroto said that the Subcommittee recommendations are sound. She is concerned if a decision is going to be made if this meeting does not have quorum.

The Chairperson recalled that she questioned if it was worth continuing with the meeting without quorum. Even though quorum is 10 people, it does not make sense to have only three parties present when making decisions. The meeting has been very informative but she remained unconvinced that decisions should be taken in this meeting.

Mr Xaso said that this meeting should be used as an opportunity to ask clarifying questions and in the next meeting a decision can be made.

Ms Lesoma agreed with Mr Xaso and said that a decision should be made on a time for the next meeting while being mindful that Members still need to go back to their parties to discuss the matters. She agreed that there needs to be a Joint Rules committee meeting and she asked that the Chairperson communicate with the NCOP on this.

The Chairperson agreed that there is a need for a joint sitting so that matters can be discussed thoroughly. She looks forward to a sitting where Mr Xaso takes the Committee through each recommendation to enable the Committee to discuss it point by point.

Ms Gwarube agreed that it is important that political parties are well represented regardless of the meeting being quorate. She hoped that another meeting can be set up fairly soon. She requested that in the summary of the meeting, a list be included of what exactly the next Rules Committee meeting needs to decide on. There is the Rules Review Subcommittee report recommendations and the two matters they have referred to the Committee which are the Portfolio Committee on the Presidency and reintroducing interpellations. Then there is the Zondo Commission recommendations and the President’s Implementation Plan.

Mr Papo said that his understanding is that in the next meeting, decisions will be made on all 16 recommendations that Mr Xaso presented. The Committee will also decide on all the items in the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules report. The Committee has until 1 December 2022 to have a follow-up meeting to take these decisions and give a report to the House.

The Chairperson appealed to the Committee that the meeting needs to be held as soon as possible. Fridays are not good days for the meeting and if the meeting is scheduled midweek there should be agreement on how long the meeting will take. She was not happy with how this meeting went – not reaching quorum and the lack of presence by political parties. Members were made aware of this meeting far in advance and knew how important this matter was. The Committee is now unable to take a decision due to lack of attendance. Justice was not done to the work which ought to have been done in this meeting. In the next meeting the Portfolio Committee on the Presidency, Interpellations, Zondo Commission Report, Plan of Action by the President and the Subcommittee Report will be dealt with. Mr Xaso and the Office of the Chairperson will liaise on a new date for the meeting.

Ms Boroto agreed with the Chairperson’s summary and repeated that the meeting needs to happen sooner rather than later. Rules Committee meetings used to be on Wednesdays and if more time is required it can be negotiated with the Chief Whips Forum. She also agreed to the proposal that the Joint Rules Committee meet. The name Zondo Commission must also not be popularised, it should be called the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture in formal meetings.

Mr Papo said that the Joint Committee should discuss only issues that affect the two Houses. On issues that affect the National Assembly, the Committee should proceed and not wait for the Joint Committee to prevent further delays. In the next meeting Members will need to give feedback on each and every item – it cannot be as if this meeting did not take place.

The Chairperson said that the Committee received presentations on all the reports on the agenda. Members now have the opportunity to go back to their parties to discuss the issues presented in this meeting. This will enable the Committee to make quick decisions.

Fortunately, Adv Modibedi Phindela, Secretary of the NCOP, is present in the meeting and will thus be able to prepare reports from the side of the NCOP to be brought to the Joint Rules Committee. After the Committee meeting there will be a Joint Rules committee meeting and then the matters will be taken to the House. Mr Xaso and the Chairperson’s Office must discuss a date for the Committee meeting and then Mr Xaso and Mr Phindela must discuss a date for the Joint Committee meeting. She asked that the dates be given by 8 November 2022.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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