Committee Legacy Report

NCOP Appropriations

08 May 2024
Chairperson: Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary


In their final meeting of the Sixth Parliament, the Committee met on a virtual platform to consider and adopt its legacy report, which was a handover report for the next Parliament covering recommendations and activities of the work of the Select Committee on Appropriations from 2019 to 2024. Members went through the report and discussed recommendations and enforcement of issues such as timing of the release of the audit outcomes annually and when the Committee became involved in the process, the level and depth of participation of the provincial legislatures and involvement of the legislature in the drafting of the budget.

Members shared their closing remarks wishing each other well and unanimously recognising and appreciating the work of the Committee support staff over the Sixth Parliament. It was said the Committee was a better version of itself since they first met in 2019.

Meeting report

Opening comments
The Chairperson cheerfully greeted Members individually and asked them how they were doing. She wanted to greet them in this way because this was their last meeting. She said this would be their shortest meeting.

She noted no apologies for the meeting. The Chairperson was thankful that her prayers were answered and that no one was absent at the meeting.

Committee minutes
The Chairperson called for the minutes of 30 April 2024 to be flighted.

The minutes were subsequently adopted.
Report of the Select Committee on Appropriations on its activities undertaken during the 6th Parliament (June 2019 – May 2024)
The Committee went through the report page by page.

Mr Phelani Dlomo, Content Advisor, asked to make a suggestion. He mentioned that the first four pages captured the report in its entirety, specifically referring to the shaded parts. These shaded parts gave the key highlights and the events from 2019 to date. It also provided the challenges, focus areas, and recommendations covering the issues raised for the last five years. He advised that Members focus specifically on the first four pages, as the remaining pages reiterated what was already covered.

The Chairperson thanked him in this regard and mentioned that Members had time to look at the report and review the shaded parts. If Members wanted to raise issues they could do so on any part of the draft report. She asked to continue the reading page by page. She asked why the ‘Auditor-General’ part was written in red.

To this, Mr Dlomo responded saying prior to the meeting, he noticed that he had forgotten to list the Auditor-General as part of the stakeholders. This was a change which he made.

The Chairperson asked if Members approved of this.

Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) mentioned that the Chairperson kept mentioning that Members have had an opportunity to read this report. He believed that a legacy report required more time to read, which has been continuously brought up over the last five years. The ‘Auditor-General’ part was an item he had on his own list which he had brought up. He said that Mr Y Carrim (ANC, KZN) had kept Members busy and “greedily took up their time”. He did not have much time to go through this report and requested more time. The ‘Auditor-General’ part was brought up in several discussions. The Auditor-General released the audit outcomes to the media and then only six months later, presented to the Committee, or the Committee had to form decisions in the absence of a formal presentation. They had discussed this ad nauseam. More time needed to be spent on the Auditor-General’s report because this was part of governance. This should be included in the report. On the last page, there was the future actions. Mr Ryder said the issues on interactions with the Auditor-General needed to be raised in the draft report and as a follow-up.

The Chairperson noted that Mr Ryder holistically agreed with what was written, and that the Auditor-General was an important stakeholder. She understood that last night, the Select Committee on Finance had to meet very late but there was no other time to hold the meeting of today. Nothing prevented Members from giving their inputs for noting in the report. The issues raised were important. She acknowledged that this was raised in several other committees. They were all in agreement with the addition of the Auditor-General. She asked when the draft report was sent to Members.

Mr Ryder responded by saying that it was Monday morning at 10h15.

The Chairperson wanted confirmation from the Secretariat, who confirmed they had issued the draft report on Monday.

The Chairperson noted that Members had the whole of Monday to go through the report.

Mr Carrim said that the legacy report was important as they did not know who would return in the succeeding Parliament. This was a horrible week. He mentioned that Mr Ryder would receive a letter from Mr Carrim’s lawyer “suing him” for the comments he made. He suggested that if Members required more time, they could finalise the report informally because Finance would meet next week in any case. In said meeting, they could allow the first hour to be spent making amendments. This was an option; they did not have to vote today.

The Chairperson suggested that they not prolong this process unnecessarily. After all, this report was received on Monday and this was enough time to read. If Members had amendments, they could do so now that they were a full house. She called for inputs.

Mr Carrim asked if the Chairperson was referring to general inputs or to specific inputs.

The Chairperson responded saying either/or was acceptable. She called for inputs that would assist with the draft report, with the assistance of the support staff.

Mr Carrim suggested that they raise the issue of the provinces because they were not pulling their weight. He did not mean to attack anyone and hoped that Mr Dlomo could assist with the wording. He recommended this last night. He thought that the Committee functioned very well, and he commended the Chairperson for handling the various differences of the Committee. 100 years of heritage brought them to where they were. He commended the support staff for their work; they were world class. He had been chairing since 1998, and he really appreciated the staff members. He said he would look at the rest of page 4 on his own. He agreed on the Auditor-General. He used to regularly meet with the Auditor-General and he was commenting about the quality of the presentations. They had many Auditor-Generals and the current Auditor-General was world class. He commented on the youth who would hear these presentations. This was more a task for the Committee rather than for the Committee on Finance, he was in agreement.

The Chairperson asked for more comments and acknowledged the comments written in the group chat.

The Committee Secretariat interjected to clarify for Mr Ryder that the ‘none’ written at the end of the report referred specifically to Point 14 - all follow-up issues were captured on pages 3 and 4. She suggested moving the second last bullet to the section which dealt with ‘Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) submissions’.

The Chairperson said that before they did this, they could address what Mr Carrim said about provinces. She asked Mr Dlomo to assist with drafting the sentence. Not all the provinces were at fault, only a few. The Eastern Cape was consistent in attendance. Perhaps they could highlight this in their draft report that chairpersons of committees must participate and be consistent in the meetings. She recalled two chairpersons in her province who consistently attended the meetings. She suggested they highlight this.

Mr Dlomo mentioned that page 2, bullet point 2, discussed the submission of mandates where provinces were not able to submit on time. This was one of the key challenges. He suggested including Mr Carrim’s suggestion as part of the key challenges. He proposed reading out what he had written, and read from the screen.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Carrim was in agreement with the paragraph.

Mr Carrim clarified that he was saying something different from what was suggested, but he would understand if the majority disagreed with him. He stressed that the issue was not meeting attendance, as anyone could attend a meeting. He highlighted another meeting where it was “ridiculous” that the Northern Cape only had one submission. The provinces had to take the NCOP seriously if they were to be effective. The provinces needed to engage more on the public hearings of the bills presented to them. Through the quality of reports from KZN and the Western Cape, they proved capable of fulfilling their duties. He had spoken to several members of those committees. They needed to connect the public to Parliament; this was more important than just attending meetings. They should connect more in the public hearings and take the bills more seriously. He asked what was wrong in saying, “The Committee expresses its considerable appreciation to the excellent work done by the Secretariat”. He would accept if the response was that this was against protocol. The staff members deserved recognition.

The Chairperson agreed that there was nothing wrong with the aforementioned suggestion. She was confident that the Committee also agreed that attendance was not enough. The participation was very good in certain provinces such as Gauteng and Western Cape. The report needed to highlight this so that it was clear. The report could also express their frustrations with mandates and other matters. Attendance was low when having to conduct oversight visits, and the chairperson always postponed the meetings. The provinces should play their role and make an impact on decisions of the country. She was in agreement with Mr Carrim. She recalled reaching out to several members and being frustrated with the reluctance from members. Permanent members were also frustrated. Hopefully this would change in the seventh Parliament. She called for more comments. She noted that Mr Dlomo tried to clarify the paragraph he had written.

Mr Dlomo informed Members that he had rephrased the paragraph, and then read the newly phrased paragraph from the screen.

The Chairperson said Mr Ryder requested to see the paragraph on the screen.

The Secretariat mentioned that he thought Mr Carrim referred to public participation during legislative processes. He suggested that they incorporate this in the paragraph too as a suggestion.

The Chairperson requested to see the paragraph.

Mr Dlomo requested that he send the paragraph to the Secretariat to be flighted. This was granted and he was also granted co-hosting rights but he opted to email the Secretariat instead.

Mr Dlomo said that he had highlighted the paragraph in yellow. He said that he had sent the paragraph to the Secretariat. The paragraph was flighted on the screen. Mr Dlomo suggested that they add ‘more public participation’. He invited Members to make more amendments.

Mr Ryder said that he had helped Gauteng to do its work. He suggested that they add ‘true effective oversight and a greater degree of co-operation’.

Mr Carrim mentioned that he was caught up in procurement matters on the Public Procurement Bill and had to read through the amendments. He wanted to suggest agreeing with the overall sense…he was familiar with this process. He read from the screen the first bullet point (the paragraph). He mentioned the importance of engaging with the public more - this was a Parliament for the people which required decent…Parliament was losing its…the sense was that Parliament’s credibility was declining over the years. The NCOP’s effectiveness was based on the participation of the provincial portfolio committees and the work of the Committee. Provincial committees were closer to the ground and could ensure that what happened nationally reached the ground. There were examples such as what happened last night…he recalled the public hearings in KZN and the Western Cape, where Parliament was being connected to the people in those instances. He apologised to everyone because he was struggling with multi-tasking. He had a deadline to meet, and asked to depart early from the meeting.

The Chairperson asked if Members were fine with the paragraph.

Mr Carrim interjected to suggest that they write, “The Committee expresses its considerable appreciation/support received from the Content Advisor, Researcher and Secretariat. They recognise the need to have staff of such caliber”. He asked to leave the meeting as he was struggling to concentrate.

Mr Dlomo said he tried his best to listen to what Mr Carrim said. He said he had drafted another paragraph and proceeded to read from the screen. He asked if this also captured what Mr Ryder suggested. He noted from the chat that it was ‘more closely connected’. He read again from the screen. In between the reading, he made suggestions. He suggested adding ‘ensure effective oversight and a greater degree of co-operation across the three spheres of government’.

The Secretariat mentioned that Mr Ryder’s suggestion was to be placed towards the end. This was a way to incorporate both suggestions.

The Chairperson asked if all were in agreement, and requested that they proceed.

Mr Dlomo referred to the screen and said it was not meant to be a new sentence but part of the old sentence.

Mr Ryder interjected that the word ‘co-operation’ must be present as they were not only there for oversight.

The Secretariat made the changes.

The Chairperson asked that they continue reading page by page.

Mr Dlomo interjected to remind all about the suggestion of expressing appreciation to the staff members, and asked where it should be included.

The Chairperson said it should occur in the last part of the report and that emphasis should be placed on the names. She asked if Members thought all was in order.

Mr Ryder answered in the affirmative and suggested they place it at the end. He mentioned that the format of the report did not fit in with the work the Committee did over the last five years. He found the recommendation on page 4 was strange. This should be a closing comment as a standalone.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Dlomo was following the discussion and asked for guidance on where to place it.

Mr Dlomo agreed to place this at the end as a closing statement. They continued reading page by page.

The Chairperson pointed to a section which discussed MINMEC. She recalled Members discussing the impact of attending budget forums and asked if it was already included. She personally experienced the advantages of attending budget forums. She wondered if she was correct in saying the budget forums were different from the Committee’s mandate, and she asked if she was alone in this thought.

Mr Dlomo clarified and said that it was a budget council and not a budget forum. The chairpersons were invited as observers because of the separation of powers between the Executive and the Legislature. Each budget had four stages and if the Chairperson were to go and engage in the stages involving the Executive, this would be regarded as interference. Stage 2 was when Parliament was brought in as part of the legislative process. It was important to understand the mandate, the separation of powers and the stages of the budget process. The sitting stage belonged to the Executive, by drafting proposals for Parliament for them to make decisions and express their views.

The Chairperson called for more comments.

Mr Ryder thought it important to have an observer status as it gave Members insight into the processes. Oversight visits allowed for participation from the Executive. The FFC allowed the Committee to wonder what the balance of power was in the budget forums. He hoped that National Treasury was not participating just as a fulfilment of a requirement. He hoped that the observer status could be expanded to include more Members, as this was important. He felt that there had not been sufficient understanding of the processes of how they arrived at the Provincial Equitable Share, for example. After five years, Members were starting to understand thanks to National Treasury, but they still needed more insight into the process as this would assist with their oversight. He discovered that Members of the Executive Committees (MECs) were better informed than the chairpersons of the committees who were issuing the reports to the Committee.

The Chairperson said that she was confused as to what Mr Ryder was suggesting they do. Was he saying that they should leave the draft report as is and let the Seventh Parliament decide how to handle this matter? Should they include the recommendation of having this be multi-party involvement? Was this the Committee’s jurisdiction? She was unsure about this. Although a good idea, she was unsure if this was practical. She called for other Members' input.

Mr Dlomo mentioned that Members needed to first understand that the observer status was an invitation from the Minister of Finance. No rule stipulated that the legislature be invited to the process. This invitation was extended only to deepen the understanding of the chairpersons on the budget. Either way, this was the prerogative of the Minister. Sometimes invitations were issued and other times they were not issued. He recalled that some Ministers would issue invitations and others would not; this was dependent only on the Ministers, and therefore could not be enforced by the Committee except to appreciate the invitation. The Committee had no jurisdiction. The first stage of the budget process was the drafting of the budget, the second stage included the proposal being tabled to Parliament who would begin the legislative process. Upon receiving the observer status, the legislature could gain a better understanding of the budget process and revert to the Committee to ease communication. The third stage was the implementation of the budget where they conducted monitoring of the departments, looking at expenditure. This section on ‘MinMec’ was when they conducted virtual oversight, due to the national imposed restrictions of the time. The MinMec column spoke to recommendations made during the engagement. On the last page of the budget process was the audit and assessment where the Auditor-General began tabling the audit report and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) conducted its processes.

The Chairperson mentioned that she was making notes of what Mr Dlomo said.

Mr Dlomo said those were the four stages where they needed to locate their role as legislatures. They needed to manage the separation of powers as this was a delicate area between the arms of state.

The Chairperson said that she was thinking of the budget cycle. She approved what they said and noted Mr Ryder’s comment about there not being any harm in asking. The Chairperson said she had raised this before because she felt she was not making any impact as the legislature. She was aware of the dangers of being too involved in the budget process, which would also reduce the amount of criticism they could do. Once the budget was complete, it had to go to Parliament for presentation. She agreed with the explanation, and asked to move on with the reading of each page. She said she hoped the paragraph had been added to the closing statement.

The Secretariat said this was not yet done but that they would find a way of incorporating it.

The Chairperson asked that they find a space at the end to propose what they had agreed upon.

The Secretariat suggested that they first adopt the draft report as is and then later on add the closing remarks after the meeting.

Mr Ryder interjected to say that he wondered if the staff would become ‘crafty’ with the document after the meeting, he was joking.

The Chairperson laughed and said they were not the budget forum and that he should take this to the relevant forum,. She acknowledged that all committees were different. She called for the adoption of the draft report.

Mr Dlomo interjected to say that he had written another paragraph that he wanted to share with the Committee first before the adoption. He then read out aloud from the screen.

The Chairperson agreed with what was read, and said this was already what they had been doing except for the addition of the names.

The draft legacy report was subsequently adopted with amendments, noting no different views (except Mr Ryder saying he would have liked more time with said report).

She called for any announcements, but there were none.

She asked Mr Dlomo to make a brief statement.

Closing comments
Mr Dlomo thanked the Chairperson, and said he felt privileged to lead the ‘thank you’ process. He appreciated the guidance and leadership of the Chairperson, and said the Committee was better than they were in 2019. He thanked the Chairperson for not interfering with the support staff’s work. He wished everyone well in the future.

The Secretariat thanked the Chairperson and wished the Committee well.

The Committer researcher said she was thankful for the opportunity to serve and she wished all well for the elections.

The Communicator thanked the Chairperson and was thankful for the opportunity to serve.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and noted that Members had to join another meeting. She hoped that Members would not ignore her calls in future. She appreciated the working relationship which they had. She was thankful to the families who allowed Members to work extra hours. She was grateful for the support. She felt she represented the Members well with the work.

Mr Ryder expressed appreciation to the Chairperson through these difficult five years. He noted the many issues they had faced, but despite this, they were able to grow together. The Committee has evolved since their first meeting in room 2 in 2019. He thanked the Chairperson, the Committee and the staff. It had been a wonderful five years and the Chairperson had handled the Committee very well. He wished everyone well for the future and hoped they would work together in the future again.

Mr F du Toit (FF+, North West) thanked the Chairperson for her contribution and for the chance to share their different views. She thanked the staff for their long hours and being available after hours; he hoped they would get some time off to be with their families.

Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) thanked the Chairperson for her leadership. He thanked the support staff for their hard work. He thanked his colleagues even for their differing views; he enjoyed being part of the Committee, and he hoped he did not leave anyone out.

Ms L Moss (ANC, Western Cape) said that most of what she wanted to say had already been said. She recalled Mr Ryder putting pressure on her in the Chairperson’s absence, and she laughed. She thanked the support staff for their assistance, and wished them the best for their future; they were loyal servants. She wished all the parties well.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Moss for her assistance when she was not well; she appreciated the teamwork.

Mr W Aucamp (DA, Northern Cape) said it was a privilege to be on the Committee and it made him a better man. He appreciated how well they worked and hoped to see everyone back after the elections.

Ms M Mamaregane (ANC, Limpopo) said she was mostly covered. She thanked the Chairperson for her leadership and noted how much she learned from the Committee. She supported what was already said.

The Chairperson hoped Members would keep up the energy and hoped their families would be well. She would see everyone at the elections. She wished Mr Ryder well.

Mr Dlomo interjected to remind the Chairperson to invite the staff from the legal services, who had been with the Committee for the last five years.

The Chairperson asked if those members were present, but only one was present. She thanked the Advocates for their contribution and recalled all the late consultations they had to do which they did willingly. They were very helpful, and she appreciated their assistance. She called for the Advocate but could not reach them.

Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape) thanked the Chairperson for her understanding, thanked the Committee and thanked the officials for all their hard work. The Committee was better than before. She wished all the parties well for the elections.

The Chairperson asked that they pass their regards to one of the Members who was absent. She thought of Mr Carrim and thanked him for his work, in his absence. She felt they had learnt from the more experienced Members. She acknowledged that the Committee had trended on social media due to Mr Carrim’s jokes. She felt that he had done very well. She wished everyone well.

The meeting was adjourned.


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