Work Method and Operation Procedures; Committee Support System and Draft Programme: adoption

Share this page:

Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


22 June 2004

Mr F Beukman (ANC)

Relevant Documents
Standing Committee on Public Accounts Work Groups as at 7 March 2001
Committee Support System Presentation
Overview of the 2002/03 Audit Report
Standing Committee on Public Accounts Provisional Programme: 22 June 2004

The Committee considered its working methods and operational procedure. Members unanimously agreed that they should revert to the original two clusters, of which Mr P Gerber (ANC) and Ms L Mabe (ANC) would be convenors. They were then briefed by the Committee Section on how it fitted into the parliamentary system. The Office of the Auditor-General also briefly gave the Committee a statistical overview of the 2002/03 audit reports, noting that the Committee would commence its programme to deal with the problematic departments within two months. The Committee nominated Mr V Smith (ANC) for the Board of Directors of the Accounting Standard Board.


Work method and operating procedures
The Chair gave an overview of the working methods of the Committee, noting that they acted in line with the Constitution, especially Sections 42(3), 55, 56, 57 and 59, and the Rules of the National Assembly, especial Rules 137, 138, 204 and 206. The other legislative framework that supported their oversight function, included the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act of 1963, the Public Finance Management Act and the Public Service Act. In practice, the Committee had developed a two-tier approach with a plenary and cluster system. The Committee had in the past established various ad hoc working groups to help achieve consensus decisions. In the exercise of its oversight function, the Committee normally considered around 160 reports from the Office of the Auditor-General annually, and prioritised these.

Dr G Woods (IFP) said that although Parliamentary Rules entitled a Committee to adopt its own procedures, it helped if these were formalised. The Chair said the Committee would do so, either by explicitly adopting the rules of the previous Committee, or by referring to the relevant documents containing these procedures.

Mr V Smith (ANC) said that the ANC caucus group had considered some of the procedures. They proposed that the Committee revert to its original two cluster system, with an Economic Cluster and a Social Cluster convened by Mr P Gerber (ANC) and Ms L Mabe (ANC) respectively. The plenary sessions, with public observers, should remain the ultimate decision-making body and therefore all the cluster's recommendations should be brought before it. The ANC acknowledged that there was no Parliamentary Rule prohibiting the public and the media from attending cluster meetings. However, to ensure that the Committee prepared thoroughly for the public hearings, they were of the view that cluster meetings should remain closed.

Dr Woods (IFP) was opposed to the whole cluster system as it, among others, tended to disadvantage and thus add more responsibility to the opposition parties. He appealed that the Committee allow him to work outside of this system.

Mr R Mofokeng (ANC) asked how he envisage to do this since most of the Committee work was done in the clusters.

Dr Woods (IFP) appealed that the Committee should not view this move as disruptive. However, in most countries - such as the United Kingdom - with such a cluster system, the practice had since been disbanded. In order to ensure that he be thoroughly prepared himself for the plenary, he would secure every relevant report of the Auditor-General beforehand. He could raise his concerns at plenary if he thought that some crucial issues, had not be attended to at cluster level.

Mr E Trant (DA), although noting that his Party with two Members would not necessarily be disadvantaged, shared Dr Woods' concerns. Due to the heavy upcoming workload, he asked the Committee to assure all parties that they would not be restricted at plenary from asking questions across both clusters. It was prematurely to elect cluster convenors here and he suggested they get to know one another first.

Mr T Madikiza (ANC) asked how the cluster convenors used to be elected before, whether in the plenary or in the clusters. Mr Smith (DA) responded that it was simply a proposal from the ANC and they remained open to other suggestions.

Mr J Arendse (ANC) asked, since the Committee could determine its own procedures, what happened if a Member did not follow those procedures. Dr Woods (IFP) stressed that it would be unconstitutional for any Committee to come up with such rules or procedures that denied a Member his/her right to exercise parliamentary duties.

Mr Smith (ANC) did not in principle object to individual members participating only in the plenary. However he cautioned that the cluster system of consensus building worked well. Thus, if exclusion from this system held practical ramifications, the Committee should to manage problems as they arose.

Dr Woods (IFP) understood the difficulties that might arise and would, from time to time, ask the cluster secretariat and the Auditor-General's Office to provide him with all the necessary documentation from both clusters so that he could adequately prepare himself.

Ms L Mabe (ANC) asked how Dr Woods envisaged doing this without draining the limited resources of the Committee.

Dr Woods (IFP) replied that while he would be involved with both clusters whenever necessary. However, where they met at the same time, he would have to choose and then the secretariat would have to provide the necessary documents. Some transversal issues were not always apparent from the reports, so he would thus from time to time contact the Auditor-General Office and ask for their comment.

Mr Trant (DA) said that although his Party accepted the cluster system as proposed by their ANC, supported Mr Woods on his case. Mr D Gumede (ANC) appealed to all Members to display some degree of trust. Differences within the Committee had generally in the past not been along party lines.

Mr G Berger (ANC) supported Mr Woods' proposal to strengthen the abilities of smaller opposition parties.

The Chair noted the emerging consensus. He thereafter called on the Members to formally adopt the Committee's operational procedures as outlined in the Parliament guideline documents. The Committee unanimously accepted them.

Committee Support System
Mr L Pakati (Control Committee Secretary) presented on the responsibilities of the Secretariat in the parliamentary management structure. The Committee Section headed by Mr R Yako, fells under the Legislation and Oversight Division headed by Mr M Kheswa. Mr R Yako (Section Manager) added to his summation of their challenges and budgetary constraints. They served the Committee Members from different political parties and the supporting staff, which included commissioned, research and legal units.

Mr Gumede (ANC) proposed that while the Committee Section was still awaiting for the laptops and notebooks, it should consider using dictaphones. The Chair noted that this would not really be a problem since the Committee Section has received funding from DFAT.

Briefing by the Office of the Auditor-General
Auditor-General Office delegation consisted of Mr P Mosaka, Business Executive, Mr C Botes, Senior Manager, Ms Z Keto and Ms Hlasa, Committee Advisers.

Mr C Botes (Senior Manager) provided a statistical overview of the 2002/03 audit reports of departments classified under the Public Finance Management Act, and which were tabled from 31 August 2003. He noted that out of the 34 tabled reports, only seven that received an executive explanation, seven received a qualified report, and one received an adverse report.

Mr Trant (DA) said the low number of executive responses was unacceptable and the Committee would have to deal with this. He asked whose responsibility it was to monitor the executive response.

Mr Smith (ANC) said the Parliament Office of the Chairs has been tasked to develop a comprehensive mechanism in this regard. The Chair promised to communicate with this Office. Dr Woods welcomed this since the Committee's work continued after hearing to ensure that problems raised were resolved.

The Chair said the Committee would also liase with the Office of the Speaker in this regard. The Committee cluster meetings would use this presentation as their working document.

Draft Provisional Programme
Mr Gumede (ANC) supported the draft, noting that it was subject to review by clusters. He also noted that the Committee should try to make more much use of the research unit.

The Chair concurred and accepted the adoption of this draft programme which would be sent to the clusters for further consideration.

Accounting Standard Board Invitation
The Committee had received a letter from the Accounting Standard Board inviting a Member nomination. The appointment was for three years, with an option to serve another three year term, and the shortlisted candidates would be submitted to the Minister of Finance, and the appointee's name would be published in the Government Gazette.

Mr Berger (ANC) nominated Mr V Smith (ANC). Mr Trant (DA) noted that while he would have considered Dr Woods (IFP), he did not have a problem with Mr Smith serving on the Board

Dr Woods (IFP) also welcomed the name of Mr Smith and noted that he would always avail himself whenever he needed assistance on any issue relating to the Board.

The Chair noted that the name of Mr Smith would thus be submitted to the Board for consideration on Friday, 25 June 2004.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: