Resolution of DA complaint against former NA Speaker

Powers and Privileges of Parliament

10 April 2024
Chairperson: Dr M Tlhape (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


Initiator Memo (confidential)

The Committee resolved to conclude the matter of the complaint brought about by the DA Chief Whip against the former Speaker of the National Assembly concerning the salary increase of the Secretary to Parliament, Mr Xolile George.

The Committee received a legal opinion that affirmed that its mandate is derived from the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 4 of 2004, and only extends to Members of Parliament.
Because the former Speaker resigned as a Member of Parliament, the Committee has no jurisdiction to investigate the complaint by the Chief Whip of the Opposition

Meeting report

The Chairperson opened the meeting and thanked Members for being available at short notice.

The meeting was quorate; no apologies were submitted and the agenda for the day was adopted.

Committee minutes dated 22 February 2024

Members went through the minutes, page-by-page. 

The minutes were adopted without amendment.

Committee minutes dated 25 March 2024

Members went through the minutes, page-by-page. 

The minutes were adopted without amendment.

Matters arising

Update on Chief Whip of Opposition’s complaint against former Speaker of the National Assembly

The Chairperson explained that in a previous meeting, the Committee resolved that the acting chairperson write a letter to the former Speaker on the complaint received by this Committee. The legal team would now update Members on the processes undertaken since that resolution was taken.

Mr Andile Tetyana, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said this meeting takes place in the context of the person, which is the former Speaker, against whom the complaint was lodged, having resigned both as Speaker and Member of the National Assembly (NA).

NA Rule 214 says that the Committee must consider any matter referred to it by the Speaker relating to contempt of Parliament or misconduct by a Member – emphasis on by a Member. If one looks at the definition section of the rules of the National Assembly, a Member is defined as a member of the Assembly. Looking at the long title of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament, And Provincial Legislatures Act (PPIPLA) (Act 4 of 2024), the long title is to define and declare certain powers, privileges and immunities of Parliament, provincial legislatures, Members of the National Assembly, Delegates to the NCOP and Members of Provincial Legislatures and to provide for related matters. Looking at the definition section of Member in terms of PPIPLA, Member means a Member of the National Assembly.

The Committee's jurisdiction is limited to Members of the National Assembly. The former Speaker resigned as Speaker and Member of the Assembly on Wednesday, 3 April 2024. Thus, the Committee no longer has jurisdiction over her. This Committee lacks the authority in law to haul her before it because she is no longer a Member of the Assembly.


Prof A Lotriet (DA) noted that if one reads through Adv Pillay’s opinion or reply, it is very clear that there were prima facie grounds for this Committee to proceed. She understood that the Committee’s jurisdiction is perhaps confined to dealing with Members. The Powers and Privileges Act protects Members. We are members of the National Assembly. We decided on an appointment based on inaccurate and incomplete information. So that has created a precedent. So she wanted to ask legal services if they could give this Committee an opinion as to what the process is if this Committee is aware of prima facie grounds for it having been misled to take a specific kind of decision, which has ramifications because of the precedent it sets and whether this Committee or any other committee then could act upon that because we cannot just accept that the whole matter is now moot. The mischief that was caused is still there, and it has to be cured.

Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC) welcomed the update. He believed that the Committee could go no further because, as it was correctly said, the Committee could only deal with Members of Parliament, whether the National Assembly or NCOP. So if somebody ceases to be a Member, the Committee cannot go any further. The matter stays moot. However, nobody would close out any person thinking of taking the matter to any other level, but outside the jurisdiction of this particular Committee. Nothing is stopping any person from taking the matter up to whatever level as a juristic person outside the parameters of this Committee.

Ms D Dlakude (ANC) supported the legal opinion and agreed with Mr Mlenzana that the Committee can no longer deal with this matter because the Speaker has resigned as both the Speaker and a Member of Parliament. The matter is no longer in the hands of the Committee, and it must now close this matter as it is no longer in its jurisdiction. It would be wrong for the Committee to get into the merits of a case it does not know about. Even if there is an opinion that says there was a case to answer, that doesn't give the Committee the opportunity to dwell on the matter because it doesn't belong with the Committee anymore. The former Speaker has resigned both as a Member and the Speaker, so the Committee can no longer deal with this matter. The Committee should leave the matter there and not get into the merits or demerits – the matter doesn’t belong with the Committee anymore. Even if we try to get into the merits, we will deal with some rumours because we don't know exactly what happened or what led to what happened. So let's leave it there. Let’s not be tempted to get into something unrelated to the Committee.

Mr N Xaba (ANC) agreed with the two prior Members and said the Committee dealt with Members of Parliament. The previous Speaker is not a Member of Parliament so the Committee has no jurisdiction. The Committee was properly guided by the legal team.

Mr Tetyana responded that the prima facie memo of the initiator does not make any findings against the [former] Speaker. Of course, there's a reason for that, as no investigation has been conducted yet. So the initiator didn't make any findings. The point is that this Committee should limit itself to the jurisdiction of this Committee. It doesn't mean that nothing can be done outside of this Committee, but for the purpose of this Committee, the fact of the matter is that the initiator was of the view that the former Speaker has a case to answer. However, the Committee will recall that in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act, an investigation still had to be conducted, and a finding had to be made by this Committee, but the Committee did not even reach this stage as the former Speaker resigned. The net effect is that the Committee doesn't have jurisdiction because the former Speaker is no longer a Member of the Assembly.

He reminded the Committee that even in previous incidents, like the one it dealt with recently regarding the 9 and 10 June 2020 incidents, the Committee did not pursue Ms Tafeni (former MP). So that's a precedent. The reason was simply that when the Committee pressed charges against these affected Members, she was no longer a Member of the National Assembly, so this is the precedent.

The Chairperson summarised that there is agreement that this Committee derives its mandate from the Powers Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, Act 4 of 20024. It has been indicated that the affected Member has resigned as both Speaker and Member of Parliament. Hence, the Committee is agreeing to rest this matter here. We don't have jurisdiction over the matter anymore. This is how this Committee will conclude on this matter. Let's put this matter to rest. We don't have jurisdiction, so the matter has been resolved. The legal team is saying that outside this Committee, there could be other avenues to follow up on the matter. However, according to the Act, the Committee is limited only to MPs and MPLs.  This ends the complaint raised by the DA's Chief Whip and referred to this Committee.

She thanked Members for their time and cooperation over the term. The Committee really tried its best to deal with the matters that were brought before it, and she learned much as the acting chairperson.

She urged members to get back on the ground and represent the people, and she wished everybody success in the next term.

The meeting was adjourned.


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