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JOINT RULES COMMITTEE
17 May 2005
Task Team Recommendations ON Members Abusing Travel Vouchers: SPEAKER’S BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms B Mbete (Speaker) and Mr M Mahlangu (Chairperson of the NCOP)
Documents handed out:
The purpose of the meeting was to allow Members to give direction on how the process should be taken forward. The Task Team had recommended that the Presiding Officers be allowed to take any further disciplinary action once the trials had been concluded. The DA was of the view that all Members who were guilty of defrauding Parliament should lose their seats. Political parties were urged to deal with their Party Members who had been found guilty of fraud.
The Speaker said that certain Members of Parliament had confessed to defrauding Parliament. The Committee should decide how to proceed in dealing with the issue of serving Members. The Task Team had recommended that a disciplinary process should follow.
Mr D Gibson (DA) said that the Democratic Alliance had no representative in the Task Team and was therefore at a disadvantage.
The Speaker said the formation of the Task Team was announced at a Joint Rules Committee meeting. The Task Team had recommended that Presiding Officers should, at the conclusion of the ‘trials’, exercise their discretion in taking further action against anyone found guilty in terms of the Rules of Parliament.
Mr Gibson said that it would have been helpful if the Task Team had recommended a specific course of action. The DA was aware of the legal situation that any serving Member who had received a sentence of 12 months without an option of a fine should lose his or her seat in Parliament. This was inadequate. The final effect should be that Members found guilty should lose their seats. If Parliament could not terminate their memberships, political parties should do so.
The Speaker agreed and said there were certain actions that Parliament could not take, and which should be left to political parties. The Committee should focus on what Parliament could do.
Mr A Nel (ANC) believed that there were two courses of action that could be pursued. On the one hand, parties could make use of their own internal disciplinary processes to deal with their Members. The ANC had indicated that, at a certain stage of the process, it would refer matters to its internal processes. The second course of action was for Parliament to deal with the matter. The Task Team had recommended that Presiding Officers should be given the mandate to take the process forward.
Mr P Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) said that whatever action was taken should be within the confines of the Rules of Parliament. Mr Gibson had not assisted the Speaker’s Desk in this. Members should focus on what should be done to take the process forward.
A Member said that there was a need to show the public that Parliament was serious about the matter. Parliament should appeal to all political parties to take harsh measures against their Members.
Mr Nel said that political parties had clearly expressed their views and sentiments on the issue. The question was what Parliament should do. It was important not to start prejudging the outcome.
The Speaker said that the issues were straightforward and there was no need to prolong the meeting any further.
The meeting was adjourned.
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