Joint Rules

13 October 2004
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Meeting report

Parliament of South Africa

13 October 2004

These minutes were provided by the National Assembly Table Staff

Chairpersons: Ms B Mbete (Speaker)

Ms J L Kgoali (Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces)


National Assembly

National Council of Provinces

Bapela, K O

Adams, F

Botha, C-S

Dlulane, B N

Durr, K D S

Mabe, S E

Ellis, M J

Mahlangu, M J

Kalyan, S V

Matlanyane, H F

Kondlo, N C

Oliphant, M N

Mabe, L L

Terblanche, J F

Mahlangu-Nkabinde, G L

Themba, M P

Newhoudt-Druchen, W S

Vilakazi, J N

Mulder, C P

Watson, A

Nel, A C


Ngaleka, E


Seaton, S A


September, C C


Sibanyoni, J B


Staff in attendance:

Z A Dingani (Secretary to Parliament); M Coetzee (Deputy Secretary to Parliament); L Meyer (Assistant Secretary to Parliament); K Hahndiek (Secretary to the National Assembly); L Matyolo (Secretary to the NCOP); E Palmer (Chief Legal Adviser); H Charlton (Chief Financial Officer); L Klassen (Manager: Institutional Support Division); N Keswa (Manager: Legislation and Oversight Division); M Mbangula (Manager: Corporate Services Division); J-A Borien (NCOP Table); M Griebenow (NA Table).

  1. Opening and welcome
  2. The Speaker opened the meeting at 08:10.

  3. Apologies (Item 1 on agenda)
  4. Apologies were tendered on behalf of Mrs P de Lille, Ms N D Ntwanambi, Ms N M Oliphant, Ms E Thabethe, Ms S Rajbally and Messrs R B Bhoola, G Q M Doidge, W P Doman, D H M Gibson, M T Goniwe, L M Green, C H F Greyling, B H Holomisa, J H Jeffery, M T Masutha, I S Mfundisi, D J Sithole, S Shiceka, M A Sulliman, J H van der Merwe and V V Z Windvoël.

  5. Consideration of agenda (Item 2 on agenda)
  6. On the proposal of the Speaker, it was

    AGREED: To defer the consideration of Item 4 (Consideration and adoption of governance model) to a subsequent meeting.

    The agenda, as amended, was adopted.

  7. Consideration of 2005-06 MTEF Budget Submission (Item 3 on agenda)

An adjusted document entitled "Parliament of South Africa - 2005/6 Budget Submission" was circulated to members of the Committee and presented by the Secretary to Parliament.

The Secretary to Parliament explained that the budget submission for 2005-06 had been tabled in the Forum on the Parliamentary Budget approximately a week ago and much discussion had taken place at that level. It was now being presented to the Committee for its consideration, whereafter it would be presented to National Treasury.

Task team on oversight recommendations

After the presentation, the Speaker reminded members of the Committee that it had decided on appointing a task team to process the oversight recommendations and come back to the Committee with concrete proposals. Owing to the recess, however, the task team had not started its work yet. It was, therefore, not in a position to put concrete proposals to the Forum on the Parliamentary Budget in order for the issue to be taken on board in the current budget submission. The Presiding Officers then proposed the inclusion of an amount of R10 million for that purpose. As soon as concrete proposals were received, they would be included in the budget.

Correction to line item in budget of Office of the Secretary

The Chairperson of the NCOP said that there was a line item in the budget of the Office of the Secretary called "Law Office - international participation and oversight initiatives". She said that the "Law Office" was actually the Legal Services Office of Parliament and its budget should be separated from the provision for international participation.

Party administration and constituency allowances

Mr Watson said that during a discussion on members' support in the Forum on the Parliamentary Budget, the actual cost of members servicing their constituencies had been raised as an issue that needed to be looked at again. The point was made that some members were close to their constituencies, while others were far away from theirs. It had been said that the Secretary would be asked to inflate the figures for party administration allowances and constituency allowances, pending the outcome of inputs from the different parties.

Mr Watson added that the reduction in the line item "Events" under Nonparliamentary Services did not make provision for the fact that local government elections would take place in the financial year concerned, an event in which Parliament would definitely have a role to play.

The Speaker said that the local government elections did not have a direct bearing on the operations of Parliament; not to the extent that a national election did. She said that the issue of party administration and constituency allowances was important. It had been agreed in the Forum on the Parliamentary Budget that it was imperative to look at the challenges faced by members when doing their constituency work. There was also agreement across the board that the resources for that were inadequate. However, there had not been enough time to do a proper costing, so an amount of R10 million had been provided in the meantime.

Mr Nel expressed his appreciation to the Secretary to Parliament for the thorough, comprehensive budget submission that linked Parliament's vision and mission to certain concrete programmes which, in turn, were linked to its strategic objectives.

He said that he shared Mr Watson's concern that certain vital areas in respect of the functioning of Parliament that had not been adequately provided for. The amount for committees to do oversight at an institutional level had been increased dramatically, and correctly so. However, members also have to do oversight work in their constituencies by ensuring that government programmes were being implemented and making an impact on constituents. He said that they wanted a similar increase in resources at that level. It was not sufficient merely to tinker with the existing allocation for constituency work, as the amount had remained virtually unchanged over a period of 10 years. They would argue further that right from the outset, constituency work had not been properly conceptualised. The allocation given to members was the bare minimum and they struggled to set up and run a constituency office from that amount. It was virtually impossible to do any meaningful outreach and oversight work. Mr Nel proposed an increase of 30% to 40% on the current allocation for constituency work.

With regard to party administration allowances, he said that parties were struggling to provide their members with the necessary support at Parliament and to provide their staff parity with the benefits offered by Parliament, which had resulted in a very high staff turnover. There were a number of other areas which they would want to address by increasing the capacity of their members to function effectively.

He asked for the problem areas mentioned to be addressed before the budget submission to National Treasury. He suggested further that a process could be put in place for parties to develop more detailed proposals. The ANC had put together some proposals, but they still required fine-tuning.

Mr Durr said that the strategic objectives contained in the document did not include the important function Parliament had of allocating national resources and establishing national priorities. He said that Parliament's function was much broader than just passing laws. It was seeking to improve the country's legal framework and passing laws was just a part of the job. He further proposed that "displaying a good work ethic" should be included in the values of the institution and asked whether "Nonparliamentary Services" was not a misnomer.

Mr Ellis said that the DA supported Mr Nel's proposals with regard to constituency and party administration allowances.

The Speaker asked why "Members' facilities" had been allocated under "Nonparliamentary Services". She said that it was confusing, as members' facilities were about enabling members to do their parliamentary work. She also asked clarification on the line item "Committees - increased oversight capacity" appearing under the budget for the Legislation and Oversight Division and again under "Nonparliamentary Services".

The Speaker said that the concerns of members should be taken into account and included in the presentation to National Treasury the following day.

The Secretary to Parliament said that there had been a request to parties for submissions on the party administration and constituency allowances. However, the timeframes had been very tight. He requested the Committee to provide clear directives in respect of the proposals on increasing the provision for party administration and constituency allowances.

He noted the concern raised by the Chairperson of the NCOP regarding the line item in the budget of the Office of the Secretary. He said that the detail of that particular entry was misleading and would be corrected.

He further explained that the term "Nonparliamentary Services" sought to differentiate between the Parliamentary Service and other matters. He said that they would look at adjusting it in order for it to be acceptable to members.

The Secretary to Parliament said that members' directives would be presented to National Treasury in a manner that would make them acceptable to those officials. The crunch would come, however, in the finalisation of the budget by the Minister of Finance and the Presiding Officers.

The Speaker said that one had to take into account that Parliament's budget was not the only budget being presented, and there was a limited amount available overall. She proposed that the Committee give the Secretary to Parliament a global amount beyond which he should not go, eg R940 million.

Mr Nel said that the cautionary words by the Speaker had been heeded, but for the reasons mentioned earlier, the resources had to be committed.

He suggested an increase for constituency work similar to the increase provided for committee work, namely R20 million. It would take the present allocation for constituency work from approximately R40 million to R60 million. With regard to party allowances, he proposed an increase from the current level of around R32 million to R40 million and an increase of R1 million for party leadership allowances. That would increase the total budget to approximately R950 million.

On the proposal of the Speaker, it was

AGREED: To give the Secretary to Parliament and Presiding Officers a mandate to present a budget submission to the amount of R950 million.

  1. Closing (Item 5 on agenda)

The meeting adjourned at 09:10.



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