Processing Zondo Report, Subcommittee Reports
Rules of the National Assembly
23 November 2022
Chairperson: Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (ANC) (NA Speaker)
In a virtual meeting, the Rules Committee adopted the report of the Subcommittee on the Review of Assembly Rules. The report was based on the technical amendments to the rules for virtual/hybrid sittings, consideration of the principle of a ruling, procedures to regulate the display of placards and objects in the House as well as the use of virtual backgrounds and opportunities for members to raise matters in the House with reference to questions to the Executive for oral reply.
The Committee adopted the proposed implementation plan that Parliament will follow in implementing the recommendations of the Judicial Commission Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption, and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State Report (Zondo Commission) as they pertain to Parliament. The Commission made 16 recommendations that focused on Parliament’s oversight and accountability role.
Members noted that the recommendations generally tried to strengthen Parliament and address some of the weaknesses that Parliament has in its system. However, some of the issues have constitutional implications, and therefore referring them to the various committees will assist with these being looked at and being processed accordingly. There was agreement that there should be timeframes for the Rules Committee to get a report back from each designated committee, in terms of the implementation of the recommendations.
The Committee also discussed the President’s response to dealing with perpetrators of state capture. To ensure that these recommendations achieve the required outcomes, it was proposed that the structures identified must report to House Chairpersons for Committees in the two Houses of Parliament, on a quarterly basis. Progress reports on those matters that relate directly to the mandates of the respective Rules Committees will be submitted to these committees on a bi-annual basis. The parliamentary administration, led by the Secretary to Parliament, will ensure the requisite support to the respective governance structures for the successful implementation of this Plan.
The Speaker of the National Assembly had tasked the Rules Committee to consider a rule that was formulated in terms of Rule 6 to extend the reporting period of the Independent Panel on the Section 89 process. It was proposed that the Committee look into developing an official rule that would address such eventualities in the future.
Furthermore, the Committee adopted the report of the Subcommittee on Physical Removal of Members from the Chamber. This report referred to the incident of 30 August 2022, when four Members were physically removed from the Chamber. The report of the Subcommittee found that there was sufficient evidence, to show that the Members who were physically removed from the Chamber had violated the Rules of the Assembly. It further found that the disorder in the Chamber affected not only the Speaker and Parliament, but also the South African public, as they had to wait for an inordinate amount of time to listen to the President’s replies to Member’s questions.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone.
The Chairperson asked if there were any other apologies besides the Deputy Speaker’s apology.
Dr A Lotriet (DA) said that the DA’s Chief Whip might join the meeting intermittently, and that the DA’s alternate Member Mr Horn would not join the meeting today.
Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to the National Assembly, noted the apology from Mr Magwanishe.
The Chairperson checked if the Committee was quorate.
Mr Xaso confirmed that the Committee quorated. He added that Rule 163 of the National Assembly allowed the Speaker to co-opt a Member. It was recommended that Mr G Koornhof (ANC) be co-opted, so that there would be a full quorum.
The Chairperson proposed that after matters arising, the Committee start with the Subcommittee report. Item 6 is then the Judicial Commission Report.
This was agreed to and the agenda was adopted.
Consideration of minutes
The Committee considered and adopted its minutes from Friday, 4 November 2022.
Mr Xaso said that today’s meeting was a continuation of the last meeting so the matters arising are covered under today’s agenda.
The Speaker agreed that all of the matters arising out of the minutes of 4 November are the same matters which are on today’s agenda.
Consideration of report of the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules (Annexure B)
Ms D Dlakude (Chairperson of NA Rules Subcommittee) was unable to present the report due to poor network connectivity and requested Mr Xaso to do so on her behalf.
Mr Xaso took the Committee through the report. He said that the report dealt with matters that were referred to the Subcommittee by the Rules Committee. (See document attached for detail)
The report dealt with the following items:
• Technical Amendments of Rules for Virtual/Hybrid Sittings
• Referral of Principle of Ruling
• Procedures to regulate the display of placards and objects in the House as well as the use of virtual backgrounds
• Opportunities to raise matters in the House with reference to questions to the Executive for oral reply
• Consideration of report on delayed replies to written questions and guidelines related thereto
• Review of Operating Procedures in the Rules (Appendix C) on the removal of Members from the House
• Proposal to reintroduce Interpellations (Ms S Gwarube)
• Proposal for oversight committee over Presidency (Mr N Singh)
Read: Report of Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules
Mr Xaso presented the annexure to the subcommittee report.
He read out amendments to Assembly rule 64€
Rule 64(e) - Members must at all times accord the presiding officers of the National Assembly and members due respect and conduct themselves with dignity and in accordance with the decorum of the House and are required …. – not to bring
(i) weapons of any kind, nor dangerous or threatening objects or articles, nor replicas of such into the Chamber
(ii) non-dangerous or non-threatening objects, articles or placards, into the Chamber, except with the prior approval of the Speaker.
He highlighted Annexure C – Guidelines for the use of backgrounds on the virtual platform. The current rules apply to the virtual platform. Members must use parliamentary background, blank background, blurred background or a static picture of the member with party symbols or statements
He highlighted Annexure D – Amendment of Assembly Rule 138(7)
Over time concerns have been expressed about the perceived limited number of opportunities for different political parties to raise matters in the House such as motions, statements, and questions. The number of questions to a Minister is limited to 4 questions per question day in respect of any one department of state.
He highlighted Annexure E - Guidelines for the removal of Members from the House
The Parliamentary Protection Services personnel enter the Chamber upon the instruction of the presiding officer, and proceed to remove the member under the direction of the Serjeant-at-Arms, provided that - (a) Parliamentary Protection Services personnel of one gender may not touch a member of another gender; and (b) Members of one gender may not touch a Parliamentary Protection Officer of another gender.
These were the recommendations from the Subcommittee.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the report of the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules was already presented to the Committee on 4 November, but the Committee did not adopt the report because it did not have a quorum. For that reason, she did not expect a discussion on the issues, because the Members did express their views on the report, on 4 November.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) said that although the report was already presented to Members, she had a question for clarity. From her understanding, the two matters that were introduced before the Subcommittee were the issue of the re-introduction of interpellations, and the other issue was the oversight committee over the presidency. From the recommendations, she noted that the issue of the oversight committee over the presidency would be referred back to the Rules Committee, based on the research that has been done by Parliament. However, the Committee would still need to make a decision on the issue of the re-introduction of interpellations, even if it meant that the matter would be sent back to the Subcommittee for proper wording, in terms of how it would be taken forward. The Committee needed to make a decision on this because the discussion was inconclusive at that time.
Mr Q Dyantyi (ANC) referred to the two issues raised by Ms Gwarube. He explained that in the last Subcommittee meeting, the Members had agreed that it would need the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report that had subsequently been submitted. This meant that the work of the Subcommittee was not conclusive to the Rules Committee, so the SubCommittee would have to go back and attend to that issue of the oversight committee over the presidency. On the issue of the reintroduction of interpellations, the recommendations that were discussed in the Subcommittee were that it should stay with what it has, in terms of the mini plenaries, and that further work must be done as to what is needed to refine and improve that type of work, which included discussion on the interpellations.
He referred to the issue of the use of virtual backgrounds. He understood that the rules now stated that Members must use the current parliamentary background, a blank background, a blurred background, or a static picture of a Member without party symbols or statements. He asked for clarity on how this was synchronised with what each presiding officer reads when the virtual session starts. Furthermore, he supported the adoption of the report.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Dyantyi’s remarks. She suggested that the areas that Members have agreed on, that emanated from the work of the Subcommittee, should be adopted, minus the area on the PBO report that was only circulated the other day, as the Rules Committee still needed to look into that report.
Dr Lotriet supported the DA’s Chief Whip about the re-introduction of interpellations and asked that it does not just disappear because it has a very important role to play. She pointed out that the grammar on the procedures to regulate the display of placards did not seem to make sense when it was read. She asked that Rule 64(e) be flighted. She read that Members are not to bring (ii) “non-dangerous or threatening objects, articles or placards...”, however she noted that point (ii) seemed to repeat point (i), which states that Members are not to bring “Weapons of any kind, nor dangerous or threatening objects or articles, nor replicas of such into the Chamber”.
Mr H Papo (ANC) referred to point E(3), which was based on the number of questions to the Executive for oral reply. He said that the Rules Committee needed to decide between two options, one was that the number of questions should be reduced from ten to four per Minister, and the other option was to reduce the number of questions from ten to five per Minister.
He agreed with Mr Dyantyi’s explanation that the Rules SubCommittee must consider the PBO report and then table it. It meant that every Member of the Rules Subcommittee must study the report and then make recommendations.
He clarified that the Subcommittee had discussed that it would not have interpellations, but to strengthen the current measures on Parliament’s oversight of the Executive. He, therefore, did not understand why Members wanted to keep this hanging on the Subcommittee’s agenda.
Dr C Mulder (FF+) said that the way he had read the provision on the display of placards may be a bit different from the way Dr Lotriet had read it. The first point basically states that “Weapons of any kind, nor dangerous or threatening objects or articles, nor replicas of such” may not be brought into the Chamber. However, his interpretation of the second point is that it is the opposite, that one can bring the following things into the Chamber, “non-dangerous or threatening objects, articles or placards...”, but the qualification is that one would first need permission or approval of the Speaker.
Ms P Majodina (ANC) felt that the report was very clear that the Subcommittee was not really in support of the re-introduction of interpellations, but rather support the current measures.
She said supported the option that the number of questions to the Executive should be reduced from ten to four per Minister.
She suggested that the Subcommittee re-look at the provisions to regulate the display of placards because the wording seemed to be confusing. For instance, she mentioned that when she was MEC for the Eastern Cape Department of Public Works, she would apply for permission from the Speaker to wear her helmet in the House when she presented her policy speech. She said that there was a need to quantify under which circumstances one may seek approval from the Speaker, because a vuvuzela could also be considered a weapon. She said that protesting posters and organisation logo’s must not be allowed in the House at all.
Ms Dlakude said that the proposal for an oversight committee over the presidency was deliberated in the Rules Subcommittee until Mr Singh brought in the issue of involving the PBO, for an analysis of the budget of the presidency to check whether there were gaps and to come up with the report that the Members have received yesterday. It was agreed that the report would be taken back to the Subcommittee for further processing after consultation.
The issue of the proposal to reintroduce interpellations has been dealt with. Decisions are not made in the Subcommittee, but it was made clear that there would rather be a strengthening of the mechanisms that are already in place. There would not be a re-introduction of interpellations. This matter has been dealt with and it will not go back to the Subcommittee.
She understood that the procedures to regulate the display of placards and objects in the House meant that an object of any kind would not be allowed in the House, unless prior permission was given by the Speaker, with regard to cultural objects. This was discussed in the Subcommittee, but it can be referred back if needed. She noted that the Members agreed on the use of virtual backgrounds.
She said that the Committee intended for a fair spread of questions on a question day. She agreed that the number of questions to the Executive should be reduced from ten to four per Minister. She explained that as it currently is, there would typically be one Minister who will have many questions to respond to, but other Ministers will have none. It was therefore decided that there should be a fair spread of questions amongst Ministers.
She informed the Speaker that the Committee accepted the report and moved for it to be adopted, with the exception of the issue of the proposal for an oversight committee over the presidency, as the Committee would still look into the PBO report.
The Chairperson said that the PBO report had a lot of content that needed to be engaged on. Perhaps it would also assist the Committee on the areas in the office of the presidency that do not need to be subjected to an oversight process because most of these are areas that are already attended to by the different committees.
Ms Majodina referred to the use of virtual backgrounds. She noticed that when Members made use of the current parliamentary background some Members would appear too pale. She asked if Members may also be allowed to use the South African flag as a background. She also asked whether Minister’s may use their departmental backgrounds because the parliamentary background depended on one's connectivity and at times it made people appear out of view.
Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) said that he was in favour of a number of five instead of four questions per Minister, as it would allow for more accountability. However, he would respect any outcome of democracy if outvoted.
He was okay with the decision that the Committee would need to look at the PBO report and decide the way forward, but the involvement of the PBO provides an interim solution to some of these challenges. He suggested that in the meantime, the Rules Committee could make sure that the PBO is tasked annually to do what it usually does for the finance cluster committees, where it would do an analysis of the budget of the presidency, in order to facilitate oversight and decision making as political parties that are represented in Parliament engages with the Budget Vote 1. This may provide an interim solution so that there is no gap and to ensure that oversight is strengthened over the presidency while trying to decide the way forward.
Ms R Lesoma (ANC) agreed with Ms Majodina’s comment about the use of virtual backgrounds. She said that sometimes it appeared as if Members of the Executive struggled to position themselves when using the parliamentary background because they are used to their departmental backgrounds. She agreed that the Members of Parliament should use the parliamentary background, but that the rule should be flexible for Members of the Executive to either use the parliamentary background or their departmental background.
Ms S Kula (ANC) fully agreed with the report, but he felt that the Subcommittee would need to expand on what is meant by “dangerous weapons”. In some instances, a form of protestation might not come in the form of placards, but it may for instance come in the form of branded t-shirts.
Mr Papo agreed with Ms Majodina’s comment, that the number of questions to the Executive should be reduced from ten to four per Minister, to allow the fair spread of questions amongst Ministers.
On the issue of the virtual backgrounds, he said that the Ministers should still try to use the parliamentary background, but he agreed that there should be flexibility to allow Ministers to use their departmental backgrounds as well.
Ms Z Majozi (IFP) agreed that the number of questions should be reduced from ten to four per Minister. She noticed that at times, some Members would have a bad attitude in the House, such that the decorum in the House is not maintained. Therefore, she suggested that the Committee should come up with a mechanism so that Ministers respond to questions and not to political parties. She said that the Ministers should be allowed to respond to the questions that are posed, while the decorum of the House is maintained.
She said that the Chief Whip of the IFP, Mr N Singh, confirmed that the preliminary report on the PBO was received.
Mr Xaso referred to the provision on the display of placards. It seemed as if Dr Mulder was correct, that it should read “non-dangerous or non-threatening objects...”. For example, when there are budget speeches, a Minister might have brought in a pot plant, which is a non-dangerous or non-threatening object, but in all of such instances, the Minister would have sought the approval of the Speaker beforehand. He explained that a Member may wish to bring in an object just to demonstrate or illustrate a point when making a speech in the House. He had raised this point, because if this rule is only confined to cultural objects, then it would disregard the example that he had made.
He accepted that some Members felt that there was a need to clarify some of the issues, but the rules will not be able to provide for every eventuality. The Members would need to decide whether they will adopt this particular intervention, or if it will be referred back to the Subcommittee. If it is not adopted, then there would currently be no regulation for placards.
The Chairperson said that the regulations for the display of placards and objects in the House were very important. There were concerns about grammar earlier, but it had since been clarified, and Mr Xaso had also clearly elaborated on the rationale behind the adoption of such a rule. She proposed that the Members adopt this particular rule. She said that if there was anything in the report of the Subcommittee that needed to be corrected that it should be done, but in principle, when the report is adopted that this particular rule on the display of placards and objects should be among those issues that are adopted. She explained that the rule enabled all Members to display a level of political maturity and not allow any kind of misbehaviour.
Ms Dlakude, said that with the clarification provided by Mr Xaso, she moved for the adoption of the regulations for the display of placards and objects in the House.
Ms M Dikgale (ANC) seconded.
Ms Gwarube supported the regulations for the display of placards and objects in the House. She understood that the Rules Committee would either accept, reject or refer a matter back to the Subcommittee. She asked for clarity on whether the reintroduction of interpellations has been rejected.
The Chairperson replied that her understanding was that the proposal for the re-introduction of interpellations has been concluded. It was decided that it was not necessary to re-introduce interpellations, as there are other forums that provide the opportunity for Members of Parliament (MPs) to engage with Members of the Executive, such as mini plenaries. The rules would just need to ensure that there should be a fair spread of questions among Ministers.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) was in support of the report, but he had a concern with the abuse of points of order. He understood that when a Member was ruled on a point of order, no other Member should be able to stand up on the same point again. He said that there appeared to be an abuse of point of orders in instances when Member after Member would stand up on something that had already been ruled on. He felt that measures needed to be put in place to prevent that.
His second concern was that once a question is asked and a Minister responds, there is no provision in the rules, that if a Member was not satisfied that a Member could raise points of order or raise the fact that the Minister had not actually responded. There should be processes in place to accommodate this, but there should also be measures in place so as to not abuse such processes in the sitting, to avoid delays or disruptions.
Mr G Koornhof (ANC) said that the Members had an extensive discussion on the Subcommittee report. There was already a proposal for the adoption of the Subcommittee report, and he formally wanted to second the adoption of the report.
The Chairperson noted that the report of the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules had been adopted.
Consideration of Parliament’s response to the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture
The Chairperson reminded the Members that this report had also been presented in the meeting of 4 November. The Committee should tease out areas where clarity is required and then proceed to adopt the report. She asked that Mr Xaso focus on the recommendations, as the Committee had already dealt with the report.
Mr Xaso flighted the 16 recommendations on the parliamentary oversight and accountability role, emanating from the Zondo Commission report.
Read (from page 8):: Parliament's Implementation Plan for Zondo Commission Report
The Chairperson asked the Members if there were any problems with the status of each one of the recommendations as proposed by the research team.
Mr Kwankwa said that there were things that would always be spoken about during Budget Vote 2 (Parliament) debates in the House, and although some of those things have been said for many years, some of the recommendations have never actually been implemented. One of the issues spoken about was for Parliament to strengthen the research and technical capabilities of portfolio committees, as well as at the Caucus level. He was not too sure whether the flagging of Corruption Watch was appropriate, instead of discussions about strengthening stakeholder engagement and public consultations on decisions that are made.
Ms Majodina said that the recommendations generally tried to strengthen Parliament and address some of the weaknesses that Parliament has in its system. However, some of the issues have constitutional implications, and therefore referring them to the various committees will assist with these being looked at and being processed accordingly. She suggested that there should be timeframes for the Rules Committee to get a report back from each designated committee, in terms of the implementation of the recommendations.
Ms Gwarube agreed with Ms Majodina’s suggestion about the timeframes. She said that unless there are timeframes, then the recommendations are simply a diagnosis of the problem and not really a roadmap of when the recommendations would be arrived at.
She referred to recommendation 14, which states that “The Commission supports the recommendation that, with the support of a majority of Members of a portfolio committee, a portfolio committee could put a Minister to terms in respect of remedial action, and could thereafter, through the Speaker intercede with the President, as head of the national executive, in the event of non-compliance. The Leader of Government Business could also play a role in such a process.” She said that it was not enough to simply say that this was an issue of whether written questions are responded to on time or not. Recommendation 14 should also look into the quality of the responses given, particularly by Ministers, and especially in oral question sessions. Currently, the rules do not make provision for whether a Minister answers a question or not. There is a reason why questions are posed, and if those questions are not answered then it is pointless. She suggested that the Committee should expand on what recommendation 14 seeks to do. It should not simply be to say that questions must be answered within ten days, but there also needs to be a way to strengthen the way in which oral questions are answered, in terms of the substance in which they are answered.
She thought that the way in which the recommendations and the resolutions were grouped was fine, but unless there are timeframes and report-back mechanisms, then the Parliament will not get anywhere with them.
She referred to recommendation 15, which states “It is recommended that Parliament should consider whether more representatives of opposition parties should be appointed as chairs of portfolio committees.” She said that there was not much direction given as to who would particularly deal with this recommendation. Although it could be referred to the Rules Committee, the reality is that this would require an entire overhaul of looking at how oversight is done in Parliament. She suggested that this recommendation also needed to be substantiated further.
The Chairperson noted the suggestion of timeframes for the implementation of the recommendations. She also noted Ms Gwarube’s suggestion for recommendation 14. She said that recommendation 14 will be dealt with by the Rules Committees of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), so she suggested that the Rules Committee allow the Subcommittee to make proposals on that matter.
Ms Lesoma agreed with Ms Majodina’s suggestion of timeframes for the report back from each designated committee. She felt that six months would be proper, while noting that Parliament is about to go into recess. The matters would need to be referred to the committees appropriately. She noted that there are some recommendations reflected in the report that some committees would be able to finalise within six months, but other recommendations might have constitutional implications that might only be realised after 2024.
Mr Papo said that the comment about the quality of the response is a subjective matter. For example, if a Member asked a follow-up question that was based on the policy position of that Member’s political party, and the Minister responded by rejecting that view, then the Member might say that the Minister had a hostile attitude. A Minister cannot be expected to respond on the basis of the policies of another political party. The Minister has to respond to the strategic plan, or in terms of the plans of the governing party. He explained that unless a Minister merely responded “yes” or “no”, then there might be a problem, but the quality of the response is a subjective issue.
He felt that the report provided good guidance for how the recommendations of the Commission should be handled, as it designated relevant portfolio committees to decide on how to handle the recommendations.
The Chairperson said that she really thought that the Members would not get into the substance of the recommendations, but rather that the Members would adopt the recommendations and agree on the timeframes. She noted that there was a proposal for a six-month timeframe, which had been seconded. The Members have a clear way of how to take the recommendations forward. Recommendation 14 will further be discussed in the Subcommittee. She requested that Members not discuss the report at this point but clarify issues and agree on the way forward. In the main, the way forward is that the Rules Committee is going to be seized with these matters, and a timeframe of six months had been proposed.
Mr Dyantyi agreed with the Speaker’s directive that the Members should not focus on the substance of the issues but rather on the process. He said that along with the timeframe that has been suggested, part of the process would be to allow political parties to make their proper contributions. The recommendations are made by the Commission, but the Commission cannot dictate how the National Assembly or Parliament must do its business. The NA is allowed to develop its own processes of how it does things, it cannot just take a recommendation and run towards implementing it without following such processes.
Mr Xaso said that he had taken note of the contribution of Members. The matters that are to be handled by this Rules Committee will now be referred to the Subcommittee. It means that there would need to be an increase in the capacity to support the Subcommittee, and that the programme of Parliament would require dedicated time for the Subcommittee to meet, to attend to these very important matters. There are also matters which can only be dealt with by the Joint Rules Committee, and the subcommittee of the Joint Rules Committee would have to deal with those matters.
The Chairperson asked Mr Xaso to present the President’s plan of action on how to proceed with these matters.
President’s response to dealing with perpetrators of state capture
Mr Xaso presented the President’s response to dealing with perpetrators of state capture. It focused on the activities that are currently underway in the domain of the Executive and those that affect its work. Committees of Parliament will be tasked with oversight of the Executive implementation plan. The President’s response dealt with the following matters:
• Criminal Investigations and prosecutions
• Asset recoveries
• Referrals to other state entities, agencies, and executive authorities
• Referrals to professional, regulatory, and other bodies
• Investigations by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate
• Companies implicated in state capture
• Building the capacity of the criminal justice system
• Reforms to prevent future occurrence of state capture
• Broader systemic reforms arising from the work of the Commission
Read (from page 17): Parliament's Implementation Plan for Zondo Commission Report
Mr Koornhof thought that the implementation plan was extremely important, in terms of the recommendations from the Zondo Commission report, as well as the President’s response. The implementation plan of Parliament was of great importance, not only to Parliament but to the whole nation and its people. As discussed earlier, he suggested that a column should be added to include timeframes for each of the designated committees to report back. He formally moved for the adoption of this report.
Ms Majodina welcomed the President’s action plan that responded to the Zondo Commission report. She said that the processes must be referred accordingly to the designated committees. The Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests should attend to the issues without awaiting for the six months timeframe. The criminal cases should be dealt with by those that are mandated to deal with them. There should be an increase in the number of meetings for the designated committees, and there would need to be meetings that are ring-fenced to deal with these recommendations.
Ms Gwarube wanted to raise the issue of the monitoring of the implementation. She asked that it be more representative than only being limited to House Chairpersons. She said that the implementation plan is the work of Parliament, and simply leaving the monitoring of the implementation to the House Chairpersons was not good enough. There should be regular feedback or progress reports in a more open and transparent manner.
Mr Kwankwa said that Ms Gwarube had expressed his concern. He agreed that it was important for the House Chairpersons to look into the implementation of the recommendations, but it was also important to account to another forum, such as this Rules Committee, that is able to check on the progress.
Ms Lesoma said that when the Committee engaged on some matters, it seemed as if Members would speak of some structures of Parliament as if it is not Parliament. She explained that all committee reports are open to the public, so the implementation of the recommendations was open to being monitored.
She agreed with the comment that Ms Majodina had raised, that the programme of Parliament should allocate more time for the designated committees to respond to the recommendations dealing with the state capture matters.
Mr Papo agreed that the standing and select committees of Parliament should be strengthened.
The Chairperson noted that the Members have agreed that there should be strong monitoring of the implementation of the President’s plan of action. She also took note of Mr Papo’s suggestion for the strengthening of the standing and select committees. She said that the report on the President’s response was linked to the report on the 16 recommendations emanating from the Zondo Commission report. The proposed timeframe of six months was not to say that all of this work should be completed by then, but there should at least be some report back of progress made, in terms of the 16 recommendations which were adopted and the President’s plan of action to deal with the state capture.
Consideration of Rule formulated in terms of Rule 6 to extend reporting period of Independent Panel (Section 89 process)
Mr Xaso informed the Committee that a rule formulated in terms of Rule 6 remains valid until considered by the House, on the recommendation of the Rules Committee. The rule had to be formulated to enable the Section 89 Panel to have more time to consider the matter before it. This rule must now serve before this Rules Committee, which will make recommendations to the House. This Rules Committee can decide to refer it to the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules before it is finalised, and before the matter goes to the House.
The Chairperson recalled that the report of the Independent Panel should have been presented to the Members on 17 November. The Members had received a letter from the Independent Panel requesting that they be allowed an extension of plus 13 days, which means that the report would only come in on 30 November. However, there is no provision for an extension, there is no provision for this kind of eventuality. After discussions with Mr Xaso’s team, it was agreed that the Speaker could use Rule 6, which deals with unforeseen eventualities. She informed the Committee that she had used Rule 6 to grant an extension to the Independent Panel. This is presented to the Rules Committee as a request for the Members to approve that there be a rule that deals with this particular issue.
Mr Koornhof asked that Mr Xaso explain the process to be followed. He noted that 30 November was just around the corner.
Mr Xaso explained that this rule would remain valid until the House has considered it. The date of 30 November is not affected by the Rules Committee having discussions on this matter. It was proposed that the Rules Committee make this rule official. As it currently stands, Rule 6 enabled the Speaker to make a determination. The Speaker is of the opinion that there should be a concrete rule to deal with such matters. The recommendation is that the Subcommittee must concretise this matter and give a specific period. He said that the Speaker did not want to assume that the same 90-day extension should be given, as it were for the previous process, in terms of the Section 194 process.
He reiterated that the recommendation was for the Subcommittee to concretise this matter, and when it is finalised, it would go to the House. But the rule formulated in terms of Rule 6 remained valid until the House considered it.
The Chairperson said that for now, there is no indication that there may be a request for an extension. In fact, it was the Independent Panel that said it required 13 days and that the report would be handed over on 30 November.
Ms Gwarube was in support of making this matter explicit in the rules because it cannot be assumed that this would be the last time for such an eventuality. The function of the Independent Panel on the Section 89 process is very different from the impeachment inquiry. She agreed that this should be referred to the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules for the correct wording, and she agreed that this Rules Committee should make explicit what is implicit in the rules at the moment.
Ms Lesoma appreciated the Speaker’s open door policy, as she took structures of Parliament into her confidence. For example, when the Independent Panel requested the extension, the Speaker had also requested for the Chief Whip of the majority party to inform the Chief Whips’ Forum so that no one was taken by surprise.
She agreed that moving forward, there should be a rule to make determinations on such eventualities. The matter should be referred to the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules.
Ms Majodina agreed that it was necessary to have a concrete rule on this matter. She asked if the Speaker could assist the Subcommittee to make a submission based on the reasons that individuals were unable to serve on the Independent Panel because some of its Members were concerned about the timeframe that was given to such a panel.
The Chairperson agreed to Ms Majodina’s request because she already had a document that clearly outlined every reason given by all of those Members nominated by the different political parties to serve on the panel. She emphasised that it was important for everything that was done to be guided by the rules, so as to avoid unnecessary tensions and problems for Members of Parliament.
Mr Papo seconded the decision of the Committee. He said that the decision to give the extension was made by the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC), it was not the decision made by the Speaker. The Members should accept the due process when things are done in a procedural manner, and not allow personal feelings to take over and override the decisions of the formal structures of the NA, like the NAPC.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Papo’s comment. She explained that after matters have been engaged on in the Chief Whip’s Forum, the decision is then brought to the NAPC to endorse it for purposes of programming that decision. All parties are represented in committees, so it is expected that Members would raise their challenges with the decision or the recommendation at the Chief Whips’ Forum. In this instance, it was unfortunate that after the interaction with the Whippery and the endorsement by the NAPC, the matter was then out in the public, where people created a web of suspicion around the integrity of the process and the integrity of the presiding officer.
In the future, she hoped that everyone would engage on such sensitive issues when it is brought to the Whippery. She urged that Members who belong to the Whippery must attend the Chief Whips’ Forum, and the Members who belong to the NAPC should regularly attend the NAPC, to avoid situations of Members misunderstanding issues and needing clarity when issues have already been properly processed.
Mr Kula concurred with Mr Papo. He said that the Rules Committee is comforted by the fact that it had not done anything that is contrary to the rules of the National Assembly. The Rules Committee is not focused on the side issues, but the focus remains on the task at hand, which is to ensure that it executes its responsibilities to the best of its ability. He urged that the Members of different political parties not unnecessarily politicise such matters with lies.
The Chairperson felt that the issue had been exhausted. She asked that the Committee proceed to deal with the last item.
Consideration of Report of the Subcommittee on Physical Removal of Member from Chamber (incident of 30 August 2022)
Mr Xaso flighted the report. He said that from Rule 201 of the NA, there was a Subcommittee on Physical Removal of a Member from the Chamber. In terms of Rule 203, the functions of the subcommittee were to consider the circumstances of the physical removal of a Member from the Chamber, as reported to it by the Speaker, and take into account all relevant aspects, which included the conduct of the Member concerned, the ruling by the presiding officer and the manner in which the Member was removed. In carrying out its function, the subcommittee may exercise such powers contained in Rule 167 as it may require. The subcommittee’s mandate in considering the circumstances referred to it does not extend to disciplinary proceedings against the member nor a formal review of the presiding officer’s ruling.
He pointed out that the incident of four Members had been referred to the subcommittee. On 30 August 2022, Mr K Ceza (EFF), Mr N Paulsen (EFF), Mr D Mthenjane (EFF) and Ms N Mente (EFF) were physically removed from the Chamber. The Speaker submitted a report to the subcommittee detailing what these Members had done that led to them being physically removed from the House. The subcommittee studied the matters presented before it, looked at the rules, looked at the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act, and then looked into the conduct of the Members that were physically removed from the House.
The finding of the subcommittee was that there was sufficient evidence, based on the unrevised Hansard and the Speaker’s report to show that the Members who were physically removed from the Chamber had violated the Rules of the Assembly. It further found that the disorder in the Chamber affected not only the Speaker and Parliament, but also the South African public, as they had to wait for an inordinate amount of time to listen to the President’s replies to Member’s questions.
Report on Physical Removal of Member from Chamber on 9 and 10 June 2022
Mr Papo asked whether the report gave space for this incident of 30 August to still be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee. If it allowed for this, then he recommended that it be referred for further management and possible action. He said that the level of disorderliness was serious.
Ms Majodina accepted the report because the Members were in the House and had seen the incident when it happened. She said that the House has a designated area where the mace is placed, but she was disappointed and shocked upon her arrival in the NA, at how that area is not respected. In the provincial legislatures, when the Speaker or the presiding officer comes in, all the Members stand up to show respect and honour that the House is about to start. The Speaker comes in with the mace which is a symbol of authority. However, after the House rises, then the mace is left all by itself. She appealed that when the House adjourns that the mace should be taken out for Members to show respect and honour. She explained that it was ironic that the House would start in an orderly manner, but it would end very disorderly.
She said that the rule states that a Member is removed from the precinct of Parliament. The precinct of Parliament is too huge and the Parliament Protection Services (PPS) personnel are not enough to usher more than 20 unruly Members out of the House. She suggested that the removal of Members should be from the Good Hope Chamber up to Marks Building, so that the Members should not be escorted outside of the gates of Parliament, thereafter the PPS personnel should come back. She said that the PPS personnel should not leave the gates of Parliament, because other Members might also become unruly inside.
The Chairperson referred to Mr Papo’s question. She said that this report was for the Rules Committee to note, and to give further instruction as to whether the report should be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee or not.
Mr Xaso assumed that the matter Mr Papo had referred to was the incident of 9 and 10 June, which was subjected to an investigation. The matters served in the Rules Committee, and the subcommittee had recommended that it be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee. The report of the incident of 9 and 10 June involved a lot of violence.
He was pleased with Ms Majodina’s comment because the issue of the precinct of Parliament does prove to be a challenge. However, this would need a rule amendment. It would also not be possible to specify the Marks building, because, in some instances, Members may be from another building of Parliament. Therefore, there may eventually be a rule that basically talks about Members being removed from the Chamber and not from the precinct. This would be a matter that would involve the rules being reviewed. If this Rules Committee agreed, then this matter could be referred to the subcommittee to amend that particular rule about the precinct.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Xaso’s way forward. She asked that Mr Xaso clarify whether or not this report indicated that the incident would be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee.
Mr Xaso explained that in this instance, the subcommittee was of the view that the rules were implemented in the House, such that the Members were ruled to be disorderly and were asked to leave. The Members refused to leave and were then physically removed from the House. He made the point that it does not necessarily follow, that every time a Member is removed from the House, that the Member must be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee. It would depend on the merit of each case.
Ms Lesoma agreed with Ms Majodina’s comment about having respect for the mace when starting and adjourning the business of the House. Moving forward, she said that there should be a clear separation of when rules were implemented in the House, or when Members in question have also done something that would have to be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee. She further agreed that the rules of Parliament’s precinct should be very clear, particularly for when Members are escorted outside of the Chamber.
She said that when a presiding officer had made a ruling, that the matter is then closed unless a Member is unsatisfied with the ruling of the presiding officer and finds another way of dealing with it, for example, in writing. However, it does not necessarily mean that the matter should be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee as a way to challenge and try to overrule the decision of the presiding officer.
Mr Papo accepted Mr Xaso’s explanation. He said that the physical removal of the Members from the House showed that the Members were wrong as they had violated the rules. He congratulated the Speaker for having implemented the rules firmly and fairly in those instances.
Mr Koornhof felt that the Committee should accept this report. The report basically concluded that the rules had been implemented. He asked whether the Committee should not consider referring this report to the Powers and Privileges Committee due to the seriousness of what had happened on 30 August.
The Chairperson said that the matter that had been raised by Ms Majodina, the Chief Whip of the majority party, was a matter that also concerned her, in terms of the chaotic manner in which Parliament is adjourned, in the presence of the mace. Based on this proposal, she would agree that the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules develops a specific rule to deal with this. On the determination of the precinct, she said that it would be preferable that if a Member is escorted out, the Member be escorted to the area of the Marks building because the PPS personnel did not have the capacity to escort them out of the precinct.
Dr Mulder seconded the proposal of Mr Koornhof.
The Chairperson said that the report will be referred to the Powers and Privileges Committee.
Mr Papo asked whether the Subcommittee on Review of Assembly Rules was required to deal with the matter of the procedure in the NA with the mace. He said that this just required order to be implemented in the NA. It would just require that the House is adjourned in the same manner that it begins.
The Chairperson replied that she did not notice any disagreement with that proposal, so she assumed that all Members agreed on how the NA should adjourn its session.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their constructive engagement on the matters.
The meeting was adjourned.
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Mapisa-Nqakula, Ms NN
Dikgale, Ms MC
Dlakude, Ms DE
Dyantyi, Mr QR
Gwarube, Ms S
Koornhof, Dr GW
Kula, Mr SM
Kwankwa, Mr NL
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Lotriet, Prof A
Majodina, Ms PC
Majozi, Ms Z
Mulder, Dr CP
Papo, Mr AHM
Shaik Emam, Mr AM
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