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SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 June 2005
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME PLANNING
Documents handed out:
The National Advisory Council for Innovation (NACI) was supposed to address the Committee, but they were unable to attend as board members were unavailable. Their briefing will take place in the week of 21 June 2005.
The Committee had received an invitation from the Swedish Parliament for a study tour in October 2005. The Committee instead decided that the tour should take place in the following year’s spring. The Committee was experiencing problems with the dates for local study tours, and appointed the Chair, Secretary and Ms F Mohamed (ANC) as a team to address the issue with the Committee Section. The Committee did not have a quorum, and the Committee agreed to adopt the budget vote in their next meeting.
The Chair said there would be a very important national workshop that would seek to make a turnaround of science and technology programmes and finding a fusion with education. The matter had to be formalised with Parliament programmers.
The Chair noted that the following week the Committee had to discuss the CSIR’s Innovation and Leadership Learning Academy programme set up for the training of Members of Parliament. Members should come with suggestions.
National Advisory Council for Innovation (NACI)
The National Advisory Council for Innovation (NACI) was supposed to address the Committee, but they were unable to attend as board members were unavailable.
Professor I Mohamed (ANC) asked if an invitation had been sent to NACI, and if the date has been confirmed. The Committee Secretary, Mr J Ramrock, said that the Committee’s programme has been changed which had caught NACI ‘off guard’. They had only been informed of the meeting the preceding Thursday, 2 June. Professor Mohamed said this arrangement was unacceptable and NACI could not be criticised if they were only informed on the Thursday before the Tuesday meeting. The Chair said the Committee Section had to pull up their socks. He said he would take the matter up in writing with the Committee Section.
Mr B Mnyandu (DA) asked how the Committee would proceed with NACI. The Chair said they would hear their briefing in the week of 21 June 2005.
The Chair had received feedback from Sweden about a proposed study tour. The Committee was invited to visit Sweden in October 2005. The Swedish Parliament would be in recess from June to September, so they had suggested a date around 10 October.
Ms F Mohamed (ANC) said there would be a constituency recess in October, so it was a bad idea to go then. The Chair said October would be the cold season in Sweden. Ms Mohamed said if there was a need to go somewhere else, it should also be considered. The Chair said they had to inform the Swedish Parliament what they thought of the proposed date for the visit.
Mr B Mnyandu (DA) said they needed some time to carefully plan which places they would visit. He felt they should look at a plan once they had a quorum.
Mr Ainslie was very concerned about the weather. He did not know if they would be able to do anything other than indoor activities during the Swedish winter. They should look to visit closer to spring or summer. The Chair said it was an (local government) election year, so they should leave it out for this year. In each five-year term, a Committee had to undertake at least one overseas study tour. They could plan a tour for the next year’s Swedish spring.
Mr Ainslie suggested that this year be used for local study tours. The Chair said it would not be a problem and they had been working on this already. They had a window from August 1 to 19, 2005 as a committee period, which allowed them a study tour. The secretary had to furnish the Committee with a rough programme. He said they had the date of August 15 to 19, 2005 available to go on an oversight visit.
The Committee expressed several problems with the dates for these study tours, which could derail their plans to go on these tours. The secretary said these dates were guided by Parliament’s programme and the Committee Section.
Mr Mnyandu said the Committee should invite the Committee Section to address them, otherwise they could not do their work. The Chair agreed. He had raised their concern with the Committee Section but he had not got a reason why other committees could go on study tours and they could not.
Ms Mohamed disagreed. She suggested that a small core of the Committee should resolve the issue. Their meetings were to address serious issues and for deliberations. Mr Khumalo agreed with Ms Mohamed’s suggestion. The Chair said if the Committee agreed to establish a task team they had to do it in the meeting.
Mr Khumalo proposed that the matter be left with the Chair, secretary and Ms Mohamed. The Committee agreed.
Committee Report on Budget Vote
The Chair said the Committee did not form a quorum, and the Committee agreed to adopt the budget vote in their next meeting, as it would not take much of their time.
National Workshop on Science and Technology and Education
The Chair said there was to be a very important national workshop that would seek to turnaround science and technology programmes and find a fusion with education. He was disturbed because Parliament had not been invited. Science and technology were supposed to be an engine of the economy, therefore they had to have full input.
Ms Mohamed said the Committee should definitely honour the invitation. They could be engaged directly in the conference and they could be able to make an intervention at the right time.
Mr Khumalo thought they had to discuss their role in matters such as these. Sometimes they had an overactive role in this type of inputs. Parliament made laws and the Department was accountable to them. It did not have to be a big issue. Sometimes they had to restrict themselves in Parliament and fulfil their oversight role.
Mr Ainslie said the Department has been very active, with a number of conferences. The Department was moving in many directions. The Committee should have more contact with the Minister to brief the Committee on the direction of the Department. The Committee should honour the invitation to the workshop.
The Chair said the Committee did not need to be part of all these activities, but they should be kept informed of these activities. The conference was very welcome and important.
Ms Mohamed said the Department should send their yearly programme to the Committee if possible, so that the Committee would be able to accompany them where needed.
The Chair said it was a good point. It was sometimes done in the Portfolio Committee on Energy and Mineral Affairs. Mr Ainslie agreed that they would like to know what the Department would be doing and seconded Ms Mohamed’s suggestion.
Professor Mohamed said he had received an invitation to the workshop, but he turned it down because he had looked at Parliament’s programme and did not see anything coming from the Committee. He saw there were plenaries on their programme.
The Chair said it has been very difficult to produce a stable programme for the Committee. Members were invited as individuals, not as a Committee, which made it very difficult to organise. The matter had to be formalised with parliamentary programmers.
Booklet with budget speeches
The Chair said the Chief Whip was very impressed with the performance of Members during the budgetary debate on 7 April 7 2005. He wanted to compile a small booklet with the speeches and needed Members’ photographs.
Mr Mnyandu (DA) asked for clarity on the protocol. He asked if party issues were separated from Committee issues. The Chair said the Chief Whip of the majority party would also be the Chief Whip of the National Assembly. Mr Khumalo also thought that the Chief Whip was only referring to ANC Members. The Chair apologised.
CSIR’s Innovation and Leadership Learning Academy (CILLA)
The Chair said the Committee had to discuss the CSIR’s Innovation and Leadership Learning Academy programme the following week. It has been left with the Members for a long time and they should come with suggestions.
In answer to Mr Ainslie's request that he remind them what the CILLA programme was, the Chair said it was a programme set up for the training of Members of Parliament. He would like the Members to refine the programme before the Committee sent it to the CSIR.
The meeting was adjourned.
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