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JOINT RULES COMMITTEE
17 August 1999
ESTABLISHMENT OF JOINT COMMITTEES; REPORTS FROM JOINT RULES SUBCOMMITTEES
Co-Chairpersons: Ms Frene Ginwala (NA) and Ms Naledi Pandor (NCOP)
Report-back on National Assembly Rules meeting dealing with establishment of committees
Mr. De Lange gave a brief summary of the National Assembly Rules meeting where the decision was taken to reduce the number of members per committee from 36 to seventeen. (see NA Rules Committee meeting, 12 August 1999).
Secondly, the ANC is proposing not to set up the statutory Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence but that it would be best to establish an ad hoc committee to deal with intelligence matters as certain amendments needed to be legislated. [According to the Intelligence Services Control Act a Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence has to be set up to perform the oversight function concerning intelligence services as required by section 199(8) of the Constitution. No decision will be taken until the NCOP meeting takes place.
Ms Ginwala posed the question whether a portfolio committee was needed for intelligence. It was the feeling of all members that the number of portfolio committees was escalating and another solution had to be found. No decision was taken regarding this matter.
Thirdly, the NA decided to let the Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women continue. Speaker Ginwala notes that this committee has been in existence for quite sometime and is not new as reported in the media.
Fourthly, the new Joint Monitoring Committee on Children, Youth and the Disabled will operate in the same manner as the other monitoring committees.
A rule amendment will be needed to establish this committee. The NA component will consist of 17 members. The matter has still to be discussed in the NCOP Rules meeting before it can be established.
A DP member raised concern about the proliferation of joint monitoring committees. Ms Ginwala said that the matter would be discussed further at a later stage when more time can be allocated to it.
The fifth issue was that concerning the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. This committee is to be replaced by the Joint Standing Committee on Oversight of Security Matters. This will be giving effect to the requirements of section 199(8) of the Constitution that multi-party Parliamentary committees must have oversight of the security services. This can only take effect once section 228 of the 1993 Constitution is repealed, which established the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. Until this has happened the present committee will be responsible to perform the oversight function concerning the South African Defence Force (including the deployment of the defence force in foreign countries). The NA meeting had raised concerns about whether one committee could deal with such a load. Ms Ginwala asked for any proposals from parties concerning this matter.
The ACDP raised the issue of what the role of minority parties would be. They felt that a two-class system was at play with regard to parliamentary members, i.e. majority party members had a higher status than minority party members did. Mr. De Lange immediately condemned any such notion saying that all members had equal status and that the majority party is more than willing to accommodate the smaller parties. Ms Ginwala echoed Mr. De Lange and added that if any members were feeling this way to please voice their dissatisfaction. She however added that this must be accompanied by proof/evidence.
The sixth item was the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members ' Interests. The NA component has been decided. Once the NCOP constitutes their component the committee can be established. The NA speaker feels it should be constituted as soon as possible.
With regard to the members declaring their interests within 30 days, Ms Ginwala feels this is unrealistic and has given the members an extension until the 15 September. She therefore suggested an amendment to the rule be considered. The resolutions for the extension would have to be tabled in both houses.
The seventh item in the NA Rules meeting was the Constitutional Review Committee. The last item was the Joint Monitoring Committee on Reconstruction and Development. This will be discussed at a later date.
According to the Ms Ginwala the above committees will be established as soon as the NCOP component can be constituted.
Mr. De Lange said that a proposal emerging from the NA Rules meeting was that the Subcommittees on Parliamentary Budget and Support for Members be amalgamated. Ms. Pandor asserted the viewpoint that all that is needed is better coordination between the two committees.
Rules subcommittee reports
Reports from the following subcommittees were given: Subcommittee on Parliamentary Budget, Joint Subcommittee on Support for Members, Joint Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements, Joint Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation, Joint Subcommittee on Powers and Privileges of Parliament and the Joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability.
The only comments concerning the budget were pertaining to the cost of computers and laptops. Mr Surty (ANC, NCOP) asked what had happened to computers and laptops from the previous term. Ms. Somdaka [Parliamentary Support Services] answered that they have all been accounted for and a written inventory will be made available to all parties as soon as possible.
The lack of party input has been the cause for the delay of Parliament getting a new permanent collection of artworks, according to Ms. Pandor. Mr. D. Gibson (DP) made a request for the full inventory of parliamentary art to be made available to all parties. Ms. Ginwala set a three week deadline by which time the inventory has to be completed. She also made the suggestion of hiring a full-time curator. All input regarding the curator has to be submitted within 3 weeks.
Mr. Gibson asked that the following issue reviewed - the request by the South African Library to house the Mendelsohn collection.
Report on parliamentary symbols
The NA speaker wants the public campaign promoting the symbols of the national legislature revisited. Mr. Pallo Jordan thinks the symbols of parliament should reflect the history of South Africa. He proposed that a subcommittee be established to deal with this matter. Both chairpersons agreed with Mr. Jordan that a small subcommittee should be established which would report back to the Joint Rules Committee. Ms. Pandor set a seven-day deadline by which time this committee should have been created.
Before closing the meeting NA speaker Ms. Ginwala appealed to all members to take their committee duties and responsibilities seriously as they will be dealing with serious and urgent matters.
The meeting was then closed.
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