Joint Investigation Report into Arms Procurement Package: adoption of Interim Committee Report

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

06 December 2001
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

6 December 2001

Relevant documents:
Joint Investigation Report into the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages
Interim Report (see Appendix)

Chairperson: Dr Gavin Woods (IFP)

The ANC tabled an interim report in the Committee that included a final paragraph stating that the Committee would submit a final report by Wednesday 12 December 2001 for the latest. The opposition parties were not happy and raised the concern that if a final report has to be tabled in such a short time then the oversight role of the Committee would not be fulfilled. The ANC indicated that it will not change its position and the Committee could vote on the report tabled by them. After a lengthy discussion, the word 'final' was removed from the last paragraph and the interim report was adopted.

The Chair advised that the agenda would be to finalise the report and then to discuss the way forward for the Committee thereafter.

The members agreed to this agenda and that the report would be short.

Mr Smith (ANC) distributed an interim report drafted by the ANC.

Ms Taljaard (DP) said that the report is acceptable except for the last paragraph. The last paragraph before the amendment read as follows:
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts envisages that its final report on the Strategic Defence Procurement process to Parliament will be submitted on Wednesday, 12 December 2001.

Mr Smith said that the report must be concluded as soon as possible. The ANC knows what must be in the final report and he thought that everyone would be at an advanced stage of readiness. He suggested that the final report be worked on until the 12th but members would get no joy from the ANC if asked to work beyond that date. The ANC had initially suggested that the Committee work together but this had been rejected by the Chair as the smaller parties wanted to work along party lines. He stated that the ANC had therefore tabled a report along party lines and was open to including the views of others. There was no use in fooling the media and the public that there will be a Committee report. The ANC is open to working with anyone on the final report over the weekend with the deadline being the 12th.

The Chair asked if Mr Smith was referring to the final report as envisaged in the 14th Report of SCOPA.

Mr Smith said he was but that the oversight role would continue beyond Wednesday.

The Chair replied that since the ANC is the majority, if the ANC makes a decision - it is a Committee decision. The Chair indicated that he had a problem with that. It was necessary to ask oneself what do they as members need to do to tell the pubic what they need to know. He said that the issues raised in the 14th Report still have a long way to go but, if the ANC will not entertain this, that is the way it will be.

Mr Kannemeyer (ANC) asked what had changed since the meeting when the Chair and other parties had stated that they wanted to work alone. The ANC wanted to work together but was told it could not be done. If the Committee had worked together, there would have been a better interaction with the Joint Investigation Team. He said that nobody has seen the final report but already it is being pre-judged. There is a feeling that whatever the ANC comes up with, it will not be supported.

The Chair agreed that nothing has changed in the past three weeks but that it is a pity that the ANC is trying to justify its position. Three weeks ago the ANC wanted to look only at the recommendations and the smaller parties wanted to go deeper and had to work independently. Nothing was said at the time about working independently beyond the interaction with the Joint Investigation Team.

Ms Taljaard said that the issues of the DoD procurement policy and the relationship between Mr Shaik and Cabinet are but two issues that show that SCOPA must continue its work in order to discharge its oversight role. To go through the Report rapidly would not be discharging that oversight role. To pretend that the other members are here at the mercy of the majority party is inappropriate.

Mr Nair (ANC) commented that SCOPA will not absolve itself from its oversight role. An ongoing process is envisaged. The work will not be complete as long as the procurement issue is on the agenda of Parliament. The pubic will not be sold short. The ANC component did the work of SCOPA throughout the year and at the moment there is a backlog. Now more work will be carried over into the new year. He was sure that consensus could be reached if everyone worked together.

Mr Masithela (ANC) tried to clarify the ANC position by stating that everyone should work together and try to finish the report. The ANC will table a draft committee report and it can be discussed. The ANC is not suggesting that any wrongdoers should be left untouched. All that is happening now is ensuring what should be in the report so let us do that and see what can be done by Monday.

Dr Koornhof commented that a due date creates a dangerous perception in the mind of the public and in the Committee that members want to kill the Report as soon as possible. It is also difficult to discuss the Report if we did do not know what is in it.

The Chair asked the Committee to stick to the issue. The ANC wants to include the last paragraph, it will be included. The chair said that the Committee would then have to meet next week to discuss the report presented by the ANC.

Ms Hlangwane (ANC) said that it was the responsibility of all the parties to submit a report. She suggested that all parties submit their proposals and try and meet each other half way and finalise it by the 12th.

Mr Smith said that too much time has been spent on the matter. The ANC will not move the date for adoption of the committee report further than the 12th.

Mr Blaas (NNP) said that everyone is talking about something they do not know about, nobody has seen the final report of the ANC. It would be possible to conclude by Wednesday. He suggested that no date be included in the interim report to keep the issue flexible.

Ms Taljaard said that the final report is not being pre judged. It is a question of whether it only deals with the findings and recommendations and if the process forward raises the issues that arose when the Ministers appeared before the Committee on 26 February 2001.

Mr Masithela suggested that the Committee have a report ready to discuss on Monday. The content thereof can be discussed over the weekend. He clarified that the ANC does not have a draft final report as yet. A final report will be tabled stating that the Committee still has certain issues needing to be cleared up with the DoD.

Dr Koornhof noted that the Committee was now moving closer because the emphasis was not on a date but the content of the report.

Ms Taljaard suggested an amendment to the final paragraph:
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts envisages that its report on the Strategic Defence Procurement process to Parliament will be submitted in due course.

Mr Smith replied whether the concerns of other members will be met or not will be negotiated. The ANC will not remove or change the date but agrees to remove the word 'final'.

The Chair put the interim report to the Committee and all the members present agreed to adopt it with the one amendment in the last paragraph (see Appendix).

Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) Interim Report submitted to Parliament/National Assembly, dated 6 December 2001, on the Strategic Defence Procurement Packages.
The Joint Investigation Team's report into the Strategic Defence Procurement packages was submitted to Parliament on 14 November 2001. This report was thereafter referred to seven Committees of Parliament including the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) for consideration.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts agreed that political parties would independently prepare their own questions of clarity on the report of the three investigators.

The process of interaction with the JIT investigators on questions of clarity about Strategic Defence Procurement Package occurred on 4 and 5 December 2001.

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts envisages that its report on the Strategic Defence Procurement process to Parliament will be submitted on Wednesday, 12 December 2001.


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