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PUBLIC PROTECTORAD HOC COMMITTEE
22 June 2004
DRAFT COMMITTEE REPORT: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Mr I Vadi (ANC)
Public Protector Report on NPA
Membership List of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Public Proscecutor
Committee Report as of 22 June
Final Committee Report as of 23 June 2004
The Committee discussed the draft report and various parties proposed amendments. Several members of opposition parties insisted that the report take note of minority views. The ANC and the NNP strongly objected to this, pointing out that the Committee should present one report to the House. The ANC/NNP position was that minority views had been clearly captured in the record of the Committee's proceedings, and that there was no need to repeat this in the final report. The Chair said that parties would note their respective positions in the draft report and where no consensus was reached, the matter would be put to the vote. Once the vote had been taken, the decision would be that of the Committee and not of political parties. Parties would have another opportunity to air divergent views when the report was tabled in the House.
Mr Baloyi (ANC) proposed that the draft should be restructured in such a way that paragraph 3 read like a preamble, setting out the Committee's approach to the Public Protector's report. The paragraph as currently structured seemed to report the discussion verbatim. All parties endorsed that it be amended.
Ms Camerer (DA) said that she accepted paragraphs 1 and 2 and would go with paragraph 3 up to a point. Several Members had called for the appearance of the DPP, but the majority party had objected so their view prevailed. It was thus wrong to say that the Committee had reached a unanimous decision not to summon the DPP. Ms Taljaard (NNP) concurred and called on the Committee to note the minority view in the report.
Ms Johnson said the Committee had already exhausted discussion on this issue. Ms Mentor (ANC) said the record of proceeding would clearly show the view of each party. The report, on the other hand, served as an executive summary. Ms Tobias (ANC) concurred and said it would be improper for the Committee to re-open its terms of reference. Mr Swart (ACDP) supported the view that the minority position be noted in the report.
Ms De Lille (ID) wondered what process the Committee had followed to write the majority view, and they needed to know the procedure for the way forward. It was important for the Committee to present one report.
The Chair said the Committee had endeavoured as far as possible to reach consensus on issues, and would continue to do so. If there was no agreement on items to be included in the final report, then voting would be unavoidable.
Ms Camerer said she respected the spirit of consensus building but, as a young democracy, they should encourage a culture of respecting the views of the minority. Ms Mentor made a plea to Members not to re-open matters the Committee had ruled upon. The Chair asked Members to conduct themselves with decorum noting as he did not wish to rule on points of order so often.
Mr Joubert (IFP) was dissatisfied with recommendation 6(b). His party's strong view was that a person should be afforded an opportunity to reply to allegations. Mr Baloyi said that the Committee was still in the initial stages of convincing each other. Members were encouraged to come up with alternative proposals. Ms Camerer's request that the Committee note the view of the minority in the report amounted to recording minutes. This should not be the case. The decision of the House remained singular despite the stand taken by the minority.
Ms De Lille suggested that 3(a) should be rephrased to state that the Committee did not accept additional evidence or documents. Mr Palmer, a Parliamentary Legal Adviser, proposed that 3(a) state that the Committee's recommendations were solely based on its deliberation on the Public Protector's report. Ms Camerer said this did not go far enough. Mr Joubert proposed that 3(a) state that the Public Protector's report was discussed as presented, and that no additional evidence was taken into consideration. The Committee accepted that.
The Chair ruled that Members move to the Committee's findings in the draft report. Mr Baloyi proposed some corrections of the general findings. Members then again rehashed whether to draft the minority view. Ms Camerer insisted that while her party did not dispute most of the findings, there were some areas where they had expressed strong reservations. Ms Johnson again objected to re-covering crossed ground. Ms De Lille appealed to the Chair to give direction. The Chair asked Parties to formulate alternative positions. Should there be no consensus, matters would be put to vote at their next sitting. Mr Joubert proposed that the report should open with a preamble that would capture the divergent party views. Mr Baloyi said a process to determine who constituted the minority has not yet been established. That position would become clear when the Committee entered the final stage of approving the draft report.
Mr Baloyi then suggested various amendments to the draft recommendations. Members endorsed most of these. Opposition Members expressed reservations on a few, and these were noted for voting in the next session.
Ms De Lille referred to 6(a) and said that there was no basis in making a general call to all organs of state. Ms Camerer agreed. Ms Mentor said there was no basis to make such a call against the Public Protector. If the Committee wants to be specific, then that call would be directed at the DPP. It was within the Committee's mandate to sound a clarion call to all state organs. Ms Van Wyk did not think the approach fell out of its scope. The Committee was calling on other state institutions to take cogniscence of this unfortunate episode. Ms De Lille insisted that this approach would unnecessarily cast aspersions on other state organs. This mandate is already spelled out in the Constitution. Mr Masutha (ANC) said the point was to re-affirm constitutional principles. State institutions should be reminded of their legal obligations and cautioned against taking decisions based on narrow preferences. The Chair agreed that there was no harm in re-affirming constitutional principles in the recommendations.
De Lille referred to 6(b) and noted that the DPP's statement might have been inappropriate at the time, but was vindicated subsequently. She suggested that the Committee refrain from expressing an opinion thereon. Ms Van Wyk said that whether this did not it does not change the fact that the statement infringed upon a constitutional right to dignity - the Committee would need to vote on this as consensus was unlikely to emerge on this point. Ms Mentor said the thrust of the DPP's statement was an infringement of a constitutional right and created improper prejudice. The Committee would not shy from its obligation to express appropriate disapproval on this matter. The Committee had decided however, in the public interest, to tone down its approach. Mr Joubert suggested that the Committee merely note the Public Protector's recommendation without expressing an opinion.
Ms De Lille queried the necessity of reminding the DPP of his legal obligation as if he did not understand the law. She called on the Committee to refrain from taking sides. Ms Mentor said that the Committee should not pretend that nothing untoward had happened. The Committee was proceeding on the premise that the National Prosecuting Authority had failed to observe the policy guidelines spelled out in the NPA Act. This vital institution should be called on to take remedial measures to ensure that such an episode did not recur.
The Committee endorsed the rest of the recommendations. The Chair said the Committee would meet one last time to approval the draft report before tabling it in the House on Friday.
The meeting was adjourned.
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