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ETHICS AND MEMBERS' INTERESTS JOINT COMMITTEE
24 August 2004
PARLIAMENTARY CODE OF CONDUCT REVIEW, COMMITTEE SPONSORSHIP RECOMMENDATIONS
Chairperson: Mr L Landers (ANC) [NA]
Documents handed out
Code of Conduct
Review of Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament
Role and Function of the Ethics Committee Review - Prof K Asmal
Report on Committee Workshop on Code of Conduct
Letter from Committee Chairperson to Joint Rules Committee, Speaker and NCOP Chair (10 Sept 2003)
Revised Draft Recommendations on External Sponsorship or Funding of Committees (12 Oct 2001)
The Committee agreed that the public could make submissions on the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament which is under review. It is recommended that parliamentary committees may be funded by outside sources provided that the relevant committee was the initiator of a funding request. R100 000 has been set aside for the Committee's investigations relating to Members' interests. Discussion of the Report on the Code of Conduct workshop was deferred.
Election of Deputy Chairperson
The Chair noted that this matter had been held over from the previous meeting due to the fact that there was only one Member of the NCOP present. He therefore called on NCOP Members to nominate a Deputy Chairperson.
Ms Oliphant (ANC)[Kwazulu-Natal] proposed Mr L Moseki (ANC)[North West] for Deputy Chairperson. The Committee unanimously elected Mr Moseki.
Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The Chairperson went through the minutes of the meeting held on 25 June 2004. The Committee unanimously adopted the minutes.
Mr J Cronin (ANC)[NA], noting that the Office of the Registrar of Members' Interests had been asked to consider what amount would be required by the Committee in case it embarked on research or an investigation, asked for a response.
Ms F Mahomed (Registrar of Members' Interests) responded that R100 000 had been provided, but that certain processes to finalise this matter were still ongoing.
Noting the confidentiality of this matter, the subject of which was not discolsed, the Chairperson requested that this part of the meeting be closed to the public. [The public was allowed to re-enter after half an hour].
Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament
Ms C Dudley (ACDP)[NA] asked whether the public would be invited to make submissions on this matter. The Chairperson felt it was up to the Committee to decide whether this should be allowed.
Mr Cronin, noting the complexity of the matter and the fact that MPs were public representatives, proposed that it would be proper to invite members of the public to give their opinions, either through submissions or public hearings. Thereafter, the Committee would be in a position to formulate and develop its own policy on this matter.
The Chairperson noted that the popular view was that the public should be invited to make their submissions and even if the Committee were to introduced a Rule there was nothing preventing it from soliciting public opinion in that regard.
Imam G Solomon (ANC)[NA] while acknowledging the fact that the Committee needs to be transparent, however warned that a cautious approach had to be followed.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee's report to the Speaker would state that Members believed that the matter should be widely debated and hence public hearing should be held.
Ms Mohamed took the Committee through the report.
Mr Cronin proposed that discussion be deferred to another meeting as much time should be devoted to it.
The Chairperson noted that there was consensus that this matter be deferred to a future meeting.
Revised Draft on Sponsorship or Funding of Committees
The Chairperson gave the background that led to formulation of this draft document and noted that the Committee had been requested to come up with guidelines regarding outside funding as it was felt that any funding received from outside sources should first be approved.
Mr S Shiceka (ANC)[NA] was of the view that the Committee should propose to the Joint Rules Committee that the draft be adopted as it properly dealt with the issue. He added that it should be noted that the initiator of the process should be the Committee and not a prospective donor. He said that it was important that the Committee, in collaboration with the Chairpersons of Committees, manage the process and thus verify whether that the proposal for funding came from the Committee and not the donor.
Mr Cronin proposed that there should be a pro forma contract or agreement that prospective donors should agree to in order to guard against sponsors eliciting favours from Parliament.
Ms M Njobe (ANC)[NA] proposed a limit on the amount of outside funding Committees could receive in any one year. She also asked whether the National Treasury or Parliament would be accountable for the funds.
Mr Cronin, noting the financial constraints faced by Committees, proposed that all programmes that could be funded by an outside source, should be clearly identified.
The Chairperson, noting that Parliament had its own accounting officer, said he hoped that accountability would rest with that person, but that the matter should be further investigated. Furthermore, he noted that Members' concerns have been noted and would be taken into account when the draft was tightened.
The meeting was adjourned.
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