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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES RULES COMMITTEE
DRAFT MINUTES OF MEETING
These minutes are were provided by the National Council of Provinces Table Staff
23 February 2005
Mahlangu, Mr M J (Chairperson of the NCOP)
Dlulane, Ms B N
Hollander, Ms P M (Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP)
Kolweni, Mr Z S
Mack, Mr N
Mabe, Ms E S
Matlanyane, Ms H F
Mokoena, Kgoshi L M
Ntuli, Mr Z C
Oliphant, Mrs M N (Chairperson of Committees)
Setona, Mr T S (Deputy Chairperson of Committees)
Shiceka, Mr S
Sogoni, Mr E M
Sulliman, Mr M A (Programming Whip)
Terblanche, Ms J F
Themba, Ms M P
Tlhagale, Mr J O
Van Heerden, Dr F J
Watson, Mr A
Windvoël, Mr V V Z (Chief Whip of the NCOP)
APOLOGIES: Ms N Ntwanambi; Mr R J Tau; Adv. L L Matyolo.
IN ATTENDANCE: Staff: Adv. B V L Momoti, Mr B Nonyane, Ms J A Borien, Ms A Gordon, Ms E van der Horst, Ms M Morobi.
The Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr M J Mahlangu opened the meeting at 11:40 and welcomed all to the meeting.
Dr Van Heerden proposed that "installation of a stopwatch at the podium in the Chamber" be put on the agenda as an additional item. The meeting further discussed this matter as well as the installation of clocks in offices and the rest of the venues in the parliamentary precincts.
The following apologies were received:
Ms N Ntwanambi; Mr R J Tau; Adv. L L Matyolo.
3. Adoption of Agenda
The agenda was amended by addition of the item "installation of a stopwatch at the podium".
4. Consideration of the Minutes of the meeting of 16 November 2004
The minutes were amended by the correction of Mr Sogoni’s initials. Mrs. Dlulane moved for adoption of the minutes and Mr. Sogoni seconded the proposal. The minutes, as amended, were adopted as a correct reflection of the meeting of 16 November 2004.
5. Matters arising from the minutes of 16 November 2004
The matters arising were the same as those on the agenda.
6. Matters on the agenda
6.1. The upgrading of the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees (report on the grading by the Moseneke Commission)
The Chairperson reminded members that the Rules Committee had agreed that the position of Deputy Chairperson of Committees be upgraded to the position of Chairperson of Committees. He said that the Moseneke Commission had appointed consultants to look at the salaries of all members and that interviews had been conducted with members.
The Chairperson said that the grading of the positions of House Chairpersons needed to be prioritised as these positions in the National Assembly had already been filled but that the people in these positions could not be remunerated. He said that the Presiding Officers would write a letter to the Moseneke Commission to expedite the grading of members, specifically that of the House Chairpersons.
Mr. Shiceka asked that the matter regarding the upgrading of the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees be explained for the benefit of the new members.
The Chairperson requested that the document setting out the purpose of the upgrading the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees be redistributed to members. He said that the objective of the upgrading of the position was to allocate more support to the Office of the Chairperson to ensure the division of functions between the different offices.
He stated that the workload in that office was currently not structured, the job descriptions were not clear and that the upgrading of the position would assist the office bearers to structure and divide the work to ensure that all office bearers are clear on their functions.
He explained that in other countries there are often up to six deputy speakers to deal with relevant issues in an effort to ensure the smooth functioning of the Offices of the Chairperson and Speaker. He informed the meeting that the South Africa Parliament however decided to make use of "House Chairpersons" to assist the Chairperson and Speaker.
Mr. Shiceka said that it was important to ensure that the line of authority was clear.
Mr. Watson referred to the point raised by Mr Mzizi in the previous meeting and said that a document was tabled by Mr. Mzizi requesting recognition of the status of the whips of other minority parties as they meet as multi-party whips every week. He said that it was raised during the discussion on the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees.
Mr. Watson referred to item 6.6. in the minutes of the previous meeting.
The Chairperson quoted the last paragraph of item 6.6. of the minutes. The Chairperson then referred the matter to the Whips for discussion.
The Chairperson and Speaker to write a letter to the Moseneke Commission to expedite the grading of positions, especially those of the House Chairpersons.
The document setting out the purpose of upgrading the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees be redistributed to members.
The matter regarding the recognition of the status of whips of minority parties be referred to the Whips for discussion.
6.2. NCOP Travel Policy for members when traveling to provinces
Mrs. Dlulane said that the matter under discussion had been referred to the Secretary to the NCOP and she was supposed to circulate a draft document pertaining to the matter.
The Chairperson said that the item dealt with the policy that should provide guidance to the NCOP when members travel to their respective provinces. He said that there was no problem when members traveled to their provinces during a provincial week or oversight visits etc. as the NCOP covered the cost.
A policy was required in respect of when members were invited by their provinces for a function, launch or State of the Province Address.
The question arose as to what the NCOP was supposed to do as there was no policy on the matter and members expected the NCOP to pay for the costs incurred. The Chairperson requested members to discuss the matter.
He stated that some research had been done which indicated that some provinces were providing accommodation etc. to members when their provinces invited them.
Mrs. Dlulane said that the NCOP had paid for members in the past in these instances. She said the matter of there not being a policy only emerged the previous year. She added that there was an unsigned document, drafted in 2003, which could be used as a source document when formulating policy on the matter.
Mr. Setona said that the issues were interrelated. He said that the history and evolution of the NCOP should be taken into account. It was important to separate the issues. If a province invited a member, the province should bear the cost. It is a convention in the NCOP and legislatures that all members attend the State of the Nation or Province Address. He said that the practice had been that the Council covered the expenses when provinces invited members without a policy being in place. He requested the meeting to differentiate between any other occasions where the legislature invited a member from an occasion where the province invited a member to attend the State of the Province Address. He said that the work of an NCOP member is further defined in the State of the Province Address as the Premier outlines the challenges and progress during such an Address. He was of the view that it was important to contextualise issues so as not to conflate them.
Mr. Watson said that the members placed a lot of emphasis on their relationships with their provinces and that when it came to the State of the Province Address, the appropriate decorum should accompany such invitation. He said that if the NCOP were to pay, the members of the NCOP as part of the institution, should be afforded the necessary dignity and recognition.
The Chief Whip extended his apology for arriving late and said that it was important that the draft policy should be formulated in consultation with the provinces, as there was a variation as to how the provinces dealt with arrangements for the State of the Province Address. He said that he was interested in discussing the matter with Mr. Watson and the provincial whips.
He added that it was important to finalise the policy to prevent such occurrences. The policy needed to address the issues raised by Mr. Setona. If the NCOP and the provinces were in agreement, the provinces should also budget for NCOP members and that would necessitate the policy to be reconciled with the financial management procedures. He added that the matter would also have to be included in the Financial Administration of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (FAPPLA).
Mr. Thlagale asked which meeting would take precedence in the case of Parliament and a provincial legislature having a meeting at the same time. He said that it had happened that he needed to come to Parliament to attend a plenary and as a result could not attend the Opening of Parliament in the province. He said that the policy should be clear on these matters.
Mr. Mack tendered his apology for being late and said that a broader discussion was required on the matter. He said that there were financial implications as the provinces and municipalities invited members to attend events from time to time. He drives 460 kilometers to Beaufort-West and continues another 300 kilometers from home. The NCOP does not remunerate members when going to constituencies and also not when going to the far rural areas.
Mr. Sogoni proposed that persons be appointed to look at the policy to ensure that the matter be finalised. He said that there was consensus on the issues that needed to be addressed. He proposed that the Chief Whips in the provinces should be consulted in the process.
Mr. Shiceka agreed that the provinces should be consulted but requested the NCOP to have a draft policy available on which the provinces could comment. He said that the impression was sometimes created that some members are more dedicated to the NCOP if they do not attend meetings in the provinces with their colleagues. He cautioned that this created divisions. He proposed that a particular day be set aside to attend to matters in the provinces so that all members would be able to go to their provinces.
Mr. Kolweni expressed concern that the province did not assist his delegation when they were on a provincial week. He said that they had experienced problems with a driver for their vehicle and that they received assistance from the province in the past.
Mr. Setona said that the work of the NCOP is not necessarily more important than an Opening of a legislature but that this was a matter for political debate. He said that the Opening of a legislature was not merely symbolic in nature and that delegates should be allowed to attend this occasion.
Mrs. Oliphant said that the traveling vouchers for members are issued at the NCOP since the provinces are not involved. She said that the accommodation is a different issue as each member of the NCOP comes from a province and each member has his or her own accommodation in the specific provinces. The question is therefore why provinces should pay for accommodation when members go to the provinces for the State of Province Address. She said it was important to consider the needs of people with disabilities as in most cases they also have to pay for the air tickets of the people assisting them. She said that the committee should consider how they could be assisted financially.
The Chairperson agreed that a small committee should be constituted to consider the matter. He said that the committee should use all available documentation on the matter and submit a discussion document to the Rules Committee for discussion and decision.
The committee should consist of not more than five people. He was in agreement with the Chairperson of Committees that some legislatures were situated a long way away from where members resided and that these members would need accommodation when they went to their legislatures. All these factors would have to be taken into account.
He also referred to another forum where the deputy Presiding Officers were given a mandate to revisit the L19 document to see whether it met the needs of the members. Some adjustments were made which needed to be decided on by the Joint Rules Committee.
He agreed that the needs of members, especially those of disabled members, were not similar and he used the example of a quadriplegic person’s needs vis a vis that of a visually impaired person’s needs. He said that the committee should be sensitive to these differences when drafting the policy. He reported that Mr. Doidge was dealing with the travel policy for members when traveling to constituencies and requested Mr. Setona to partake in this process. He said that a draft document in this regard had been tabled in the JRC meeting and that parties were requested to look at it.
Further, that members were being burdened unnecessarily and it needed to be addressed in the L19 document. He informed the meeting that there was a proposal that members who had a home and then a constituency home should register both and that Parliament would then reimburse their traveling expenses. He said that the issue of accommodation was being addressed in the policy of Parliament and that the JRC had indicated that the policy was required soon.
He asked whether there was agreement on the establishment of a small committee or whether members would be appointed from the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules to attend to the matter.
It was agreed that the Subcommittee on Review of Rules would deal with the matter.
In response to Mr. Sogoni’s concern regarding the workload of the Subcommittee, the Chief Whip responded that the majority of the meeting supported the referral of the matter to the Review of Rules Subcommittee and that the Subcommittee had not objected.
The Chairperson said that this specific task would not be adding to the burden of the Subcommittee as the Rules Committee met only once a quarter. He requested the first draft of the policy to be tabled at the next Rules Committee meeting.
He responded to the concern raised by Mr. Kolweni regarding travel arrangements when a committee is on a provincial visit and said that this was a question of arrangements made by the Select Committee itself. He said that the matter of parliamentary work taking precedence over any other work had been raised at the Programming Committee meeting. It was important for members to attend to parliamentary work while Parliament was in session. He referred the meeting to section 62(2) of the Constitution, which states that if a person becomes a permanent delegate of the NCOP, the person ceases to be a member of the provincial legislature. He requested the Subcommittee to take this into account during their deliberations.
The Chairperson requested Kgoshi Mokoena to co-ordinate the committee, as he is the Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Review of Rules. He said that there were documents available and that the committee would not have to start from scratch. He said that the committee should also take the views of the provinces into account and requested the committee to have a draft policy available by the next NCOP Rules Committee meeting.
The Chief Whip agreed that the draft policy should at least be ready in time for the next opening of the provincial legislatures. He requested that the time frame for the policy be set for the beginning of 2006.
The Subcommittee on the Review of Rules to prepare a draft policy on members travel to provinces.
The Subcommittee to take all the views expressed in the Rules Committee meeting into account during their deliberations.
The Subcommittee to utilize available documentation on the matter.
The Subcommittee to take the views of the provinces into account.
The policy to be finalised by the beginning of 2006.
6.3. Report of the Subcommittee on Review of NCOP Rules
Kgoshi Mokoena reported that the Subcommittee had met on several occasions and had made the recommendations as set out in the report of the Subcommittee.
He referred to the report of the Subcommittee and specifically to the recommendation regarding Rule 237. He said that at the last Rules Committee meeting it was proposed that a day be allocated to Questions for Oral Reply to allow all questions to be responded to. He said that the current rule was amended to ensure that a sitting would be allocated to questions only. With regard to Rule 237 (2), the proposal was that the time for the initial reply to an oral question by the executive be extended to five minutes. This is due to the fact that the executive had not been able to respond in the time that was previously allocated to them. With regard to the reply to supplementary questions by the executive, the time period was extended to four minutes per reply. The time period for a supplementary question by a member is two minutes and only four supplementary questions are allowed per question.
The Subcommittee further proposed that Rule 116 be amended to create certainty as to the composition of the Rules Committee. It proposed that the positions key to the functioning of the institution for example that of the Programming Whip, Chief Whip and Deputy Chairperson of Committees be included as part of the composition of the Rules Committee.
The Subcommittee also proposed that Rule 247 be amended to bring it in line with the Powers and Privileges Act, 2004. The new rule provides for the money to be paid into the account of Parliament.
With regard to Rule 246, the Subcommittee proposed that the Rule be amended to provide that the fine may not exceed one month’s salary.
The Subcommittee then recommended that the Rules Committee meeting adopt the proposals.
The Chairperson requested the meeting to respond. The Chairperson said that it was important to look at Rule 237. He said in terms of the old rule the executive had been given 1 hour to respond and added that he had always given the executive 1 hour and 30 minutes which meant that he shortened the time for the rest of the business before the House. He said that it was agreed that a day would be set aside for questions. Members want their questions to be responded to and 2 to 3 hours would be required to deal with all the questions.
The NCOP has two question sessions per term which should be used effectively. It was decided that the time per supplementary question be limited to 2 minutes, the time for response to supplementary questions be limited to 4 minutes and that the number of supplementary questions be limited to 4 questions.
The Chief Whip commended the work done by the Subcommittee and proposed that the proposals which have been tabled, be accepted. He said that a holistic review of the Rules was needed. He proposed that all parties scrutinise the Rules to identify issues for review.
Mr Watson proposed that the rules be adjusted to give the members time equal to that of the executive rather than giving the executive more time to respond.
Mrs Oliphant responded that the issue had already been agreed to in the previous Rules Committee meeting and referred Mr Watson to item 6.2. of the minutes.
M. Ntuli seconded adoption of the proposals by the Subcommittee.
In response to Mr Sogoni’s question re how many times per term the NCOP has question days, the Chief Whip said that there was a need to consider the programme of the NCOP, that there are provincial weeks which means that the members are not always at Parliament and that is why question time is not a regular occurrence. It takes place twice per quarter.
The Chairperson said the Rules would assist to guide the executive in terms of the time they have to respond.
The proposal as submitted by the Subcommittee regarding Rule 237 was adopted.
The Chairperson requested the meeting to respond to the proposal of the amendment to the composition of the Rules Committee. The amendment was adopted.
The Chairperson then put the proposal re Rule 247 to the meeting. The amendment was first debated and then agreed to.
Dr. Van Heerden said that the old Act also referred to the abuse of Parliament. He said he was not aware of what the new Act said.
Mr. Setona asked whether the formulation as presented did not hamper with the guidelines of the ethics committee or any other legislation.
The Chief Whip proposed that the rule be approved pending an investigation by the Procedural Services Section. He proposed that the Procedural Services Section report in the next Rules Committee meeting.
The Chairperson agreed that the Procedural Services Section should verify whether the amendment is consistent with other Acts.
Kgoshi Mokoena referred to the new Act of Parliament and said that nothing takes precedent over an Act of Parliament. He said there was nothing to investigate.
Dr. Van Heerden was in agreement with Kgoshi Mokoena.
Mr. Setona said that the Powers and Privileges Act have various classifications of offences. He remarked that if the Subcommittee was sure, there was no reason to investigate further.
The proposal regarding the proposed amendment of the rule was agreed to.
The Chairperson requested the Procedural Services Office to still investigate the matter.
All the proposals of the Subcommittee to be adopted by the Rules committee.
The Procedural Services Office to investigate whether the formulation as presented does not hamper with the guidelines of the ethics committee or any other legislation.
6.4. Progress report of the Task Team on Oversight
Mr. Setona stated that a report had been distributed to provide members with a background of the process. He reported that the Task Team had met and developed a common understanding of its mandate and brief. Also that a number of focus groups had been established.
He reported that a strategic plan had been submitted on 16 February 2005 and that the focus groups had several meetings to ensure that the work was taken forward. The budget had been finalised and was submitted to the deputy secretary to Parliament and will be forwarded to the Presiding Officers. He referred to the diagram attached to the report and said that it outlined the areas of focus. One of limitations is that not a lot of members from the NCOP were able to participate but that the approach was to consult members who will be able to give time to the focus groups. He said that the timeframe for completion of work was not beyond July 2005.
The Chairperson requested Mr Setona to provide a further report in the next Rules Committee meeting.
Mr. Watson said that he had been listed as a member of the National Assembly in the last focus group and requested Mr Setona to correct that.
The surname of the Chief Whip was also to be corrected.
Mr. Setona to provide a follow- up report at the next Rules Committee meeting.
6.5. Installation of a stopwatch at the podium in the Chamber
Subsequent to a discussion on the matter, it was agreed that a digital stopwatch be installed at the podium in the Chamber.
The Chairperson also requested that a watch be installed in his office and that the clocks in Parliament be checked and maintained to ensure that they reflected the correct time.
The Secretary to the NCOP to install a digital watch at the podium in the Chamber
The Secretary to the NCOP to ensure that all watches in Parliament is fixed.
Clocks to be placed in the offices of the Presiding Officers.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 13:15.
Hon. Mr M. J. Mahlangu, MP
Chairperson of the Council Rules Committee
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