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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES RULES COMMITTEE
20 October 2004
These minutes are were provided by the National Council of Provinces Table Staff
Mahlangu, Mr M J (Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP)
Adolph, Rev E
Dlulane, Ms B N
Hollander, Ms P
Kolweni, Mr Z S
Mack, Mr N
Mabe, Ms E S
Matlanyane, Ms H F
Mokoena, Kgoshi L M
Ntuli, Mr Z C
Qikani, Ms A N D
Sinclair Mr K
Sulliman, Mr M A
Van Heerden, Mr F J
Vilakazi, Ms J N
Watson, Mr A
Windvoël, Mr V V Z (Chief Whip of the NCOP)
APOLOGIES: Ms J L Kgoali (Chairperson of the NCOP); Ms M N Oliphant (Chairperson of Committees); Mr T S Setona (Deputy Chairperson of Committees); Ms N Ntwanambi; Mr S Shiceka; Ms J F Terblanche.
IN ATTENDANCE: Staff: Ms L L Matyolo, Mr B V L Momoti, Mr B Nonyane, Ms J A Borien, Ms M Morobi, Mr M Tshaiviti, Mr A Syme, Mr R Ponambalan.
The Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr M J Mahlangu opened the meeting at 10:12 and welcomed all to the meeting.
The following apologies were received:
Ms J L Kgoali;
Ms N Ntwanambi;
Mr T S Setona;
Mr S Shiceka; and
Ms J F Terblanche.
3. Adoption of Agenda
The agenda was adopted without any additions.
The Chief Whip at this point requested that written apologies be required from members who would not be able to attend the meeting. The Chief Whip said that the composition of the Rules Committee should be addressed in the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules as there had been changes with regard to the composition of provincial whips.
Mr Watson enquired as to which set of minutes should be used as members had received different drafts thereof.
The Deputy Chairperson responded that the revised minutes dated 19 October 2004 was the correct version of the minutes.
4. Consideration of the Minutes of the meeting of 24 August 2004
The Chief Whip moved for adoption of the minutes and the minutes were adopted as a correct reflection of the meeting of 24 August 2004.
5. Matters arising from the minutes of 24 August 2004
The matters arising were the same matters that were on the agenda of the meeting and were therefore discussed as agenda items.
6. Matters on the agenda
6.1. Formula for delegations traveling abroad
The Chief Whip reported that the matter had been discussed at the multi-party whips meeting and it was agreed that all parties should be part of the delegation. It was stated that the smaller parties should not be excluded. The Chief Whip said that the meeting agreed on criteria to be used when deciding which members were to be part of a specific delegation and said that the commitment of members, their parliamentary conduct and performance at meetings would be taken into account when deciding on the composition of a delegation.
The Chief Whip said that the formula was agreed upon on the basis of the above-mentioned principles. He said that the new formula as agreed upon by the multi-party whips meeting had been circulated to all parties.
Mr Mzizi said that he was in agreement with the Chief Whip’s report but added it was also agreed that traveling by the Select Committees would have an added principle. He said that smaller parties would not necessarily be taken into account and that the members of that Select Committee would enjoy first preference.
Mr Watson said that he had not received the document setting out the new formula for delegations traveling abroad.
The Chief Whip said that it was the responsibility of the party whips or representatives to ensure that their party members received the document.
The Deputy Chairperson instructed that the document be made available at the meeting to all members who had not received it.
The new document setting out the formula for delegations traveling abroad be circulated to all members of the Rules Committee.
6.2. Time limit for reply to supplementary questions
The Deputy Chairperson requested Mr Sulliman to report on the matter.
Mr Sulliman was however not in the meeting as he was presiding over a Social Services Committee meeting.
The Deputy Chairperson indicated that Mr Sulliman should have tendered an apology. He stressed the importance of members attending the Rules Committee meeting and said that it was the policy making structure in the NCOP and together with the National Assembly Rules Committee made input into the Joint Rules Committee which was the policy making structure for Parliament as a whole.
Mrs Vilakazi said that she was supposed to relieve Mr Sulliman at the Social Services Committee to enable him to report to the NCOP Rules Committee meeting.
Mr Watson expressed concern that committee meetings were scheduled during the same time as the Rules Committee meeting and said that the Rules Committee meeting should be properly planned so as to enable all the whips and party representatives to attend.
The Deputy Chairperson was in agreement with Mr Watson and said that the Rules Committee meeting should be scheduled in such a way as to ensure the attendance of all the members.
The Deputy Chairperson proposed that the agenda item be postponed until Mr Sulliman was present to report on the matter.
The Rules Committee meeting to be scheduled in such a way as to ensure attendance of all members.
The Agenda item to be dealt with when Mr Sulliman was present in the meeting.
6.3 The Workshop on the Interim Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation
The Deputy Chairperson reported that the workshop had taken place on 19 and 20 September 2004 and was attended by members of the NCOP and special delegates.
The Secretary to the NCOP reported that the report was available and that it had been distributed.
Mr Watson said that the workshop was very informative and commended the Presiding Officers and staff on the quality of the workshop. He requested that the report of the workshop be made available to all members.
The Report of the NCOP Workshop on the Interim Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Delegated Legislation be made available to all members.
6.4 The Design of the Black Rod
The Deputy Chairperson requested the Secretary to the NCOP to provide a report on the matter.
The Secretary said that the tender for the manufacturing of the Black Rod was awarded to Pagliari. She said she was requested to provide an explanatory memorandum on the flowers on the band of the drum of the Black Rod.
The Secretary referred the members to the memorandum that was distributed as part of the Rules Committee document pack and explained that each one of the flowers had been taken from the Coat of Arms of each of the nine provinces. She referred to the symbol for KwaZulu- Natal and said that KwaZulu-Natal did not have a Coat of Arms at the time that the Rod was designed. That a symbol was chosen for KwaZulu-Natal at the time and that it was still relevant as it was subsequently part of the proposed Coat of Arms of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Deputy Chairperson showed the members the design of the Black Rod and referred to the places where the provincial coats of arms, the national flag, the national coat of arms and the beadwork would be. He said that the presence of the coats of arms of the provinces on the Black Rod was significant as the NCOP represented the provinces.
He also said that Pagliari was afforded the tender to manufacture the Black Rod and that it would take time as it was hand manufactured and each one of the components of the Black Rod would be manufactured by a different person within Pagliari. He added that the stand was made from ebony wood.
He added that the copyright of the design was patented by Parliament and the Bureau of Heraldry had approved the design.
The Chief Whip commended the good work done by the Presiding Officers and staff and said that he looked forward to the launch of the Black Rod.
7. The proposed amendment to Rule 9 of the NCOP (The position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees)
The Chief Whip reported that the proposal relating to the amendment of Rule 9 and the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees had been distributed to all parties. The Chief Whip said that the document had been discussed in the multi-party whips forum meeting and that all parties were in agreement with the proposal.
He said that the parties however requested an organogram of the NCOP to see how this position would impact on the current organogram. He reported that the IFP was of the view that the NCOP should also be considering the ranking and recognition of other smaller parties and their contribution to the multi-party whips forum meeting.
He requested that a legal opinion be sought on the matter and that the Presiding Officers should consider the matter.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the matter would have to be considered in the next Rules Committee meeting. He said that the Rules should be scrutinized and that an agreement on the matter would necessitate an amendment to the Rules of the NCOP.
Mr Mahlangu referred to the proposal regarding the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees and requested parties to report. He said that he gauged from the Chief Whips input that parties were in agreement but that he wanted parties to make comments regarding the proposal.
Mr Sinclair said that the parties were in agreement. He said that the Moseneke Commission should be consulted when looking at the structure of benefits for the proposed position.
Mr Van Heerden enquired as to what the Moseneke Commission was.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the Commission was an independent body which determined the salaries and increases of all public office bearers. He said that once the President had approved the recommendation of the Moseneke Commission, it would be implemented. In addition, that the Commission was previously headed by Steyn, J and later Goldstone, J before Moseneke, J was appointed.
The ranking and recognition of smaller parties to be considered at the next Rules Committee meeting. The Rules to be scrutinized and an agreement on the matter to necessitate an amendment to the Rules of the NCOP.
To proceed with the amendment of Council Rule 9 pertaining to the position of the Deputy Chairperson of Committees.
8. Time Limit for Reply to supplementary questions
(the item was re-opened)
The Deputy Chairperson noted that Mr Sulliman was still in the Social Services Committee meeting. The Deputy Chairperson reported that the NCOP used to have a problem with regard to the time limit for reply to supplementary questions by the executive.
He said that the Rules do not make provision for a time period within which the executive should reply to follow- up questions posed by members.
The Deputy Chairperson said that he was informed that there had been an agreement that no other business would be attended to in plenaries set aside for Questions for Oral Reply. He said that given this agreement, more time could be allowed for the ministers’ responses to supplementary questions and he further proposed that more members could be allowed to ask follow- up questions.
He said that the number of follow- up questions to be allowed should be looked at.
He added that question time was important as it provided members with an opportunity to ask questions and the executive to respond and that it was part of the oversight function of members.
The Chief Whip said that the multi-party whips meeting had agreed that the time allocated to follow- up questions by members should not be more than 2 minutes per follow up question.
He said that that multi-party whips meeting had agreed with the decision of the Programming Committee that no other business should be dealt with in the House on days set aside for Questions for Oral Reply.
He said that a guiding rule was needed on how to conduct questions in the plenary dedicated to questions for oral reply. He proposed that parties be given time to consider the matter and report back at the next meeting.
Mr Mzizi said that a time frame was important as it added value to the question time. He agreed that 2 minutes should be allocated to follow-up questions, as it would allow a member enough time to make a short political statement and then ask the question. It would also make members more aware as to their allocated time.
He said that a time frame was also needed for response to follow-up questions and guidelines as to how many follow- up questions would be allowed. He said that the minority parties had invariably been overlooked and requested that they be taken on board. He requested the Chairperson to look at that and to ensure that everyone was afforded a chance.
He said that he had also noticed that the Chairperson would make a ruling as to say that a member was venturing into a new question during follow up time and that he was of the opinion that it was the role of the member of the executive to raise such a view and not the Chairperson.
Mr Watson said that he was also in agreement with the proposal of allocating two minutes per follow- up question. He said that the Council had to guard against giving ministers an open time frame and proposed that the response by the Ministers be limited to four minutes per initial reply and two minutes per reply to a follow- up question.
In response to Mr Mzizi’s point regarding the new questions and the duty of the officer presiding, he said that it was the duty of the officer presiding to rule the House and not that of the minister. He was in agreement that question time was valuable for the purpose of oversight as well as to illicit information for constituencies.
He said that supplementary questions were as important as primary questions and requested the Presiding Officers to protect all members during supplementary as well as primary questions.
Mrs Dlulane also responded to Mr Mzizi’s comment regarding the new question rulings and said that the Presiding Officers had a duty to implement the Rules of the NCOP. She said that she was not sure that political statements should be made during question time. She requested that the matter be discussed in the multi- party whips forum meeting and to report back to the next Rules Committee meeting.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the agenda item dealt with the time limit for reply to supplementary questions by the executive but that the discussions had touched on a number of matters. He said that it seemed that the parties were all in agreement on the matter.
The Chief Whip proposed that the ministers be given more than two minutes to respond to supplementary questions.
The Deputy Chairperson said that there was nothing wrong with making a political statement in two minutes but that there might not be time to pose a question.
Mr Van Heerden asked how many follow-up questions would be allowed.
The Deputy Chairperson said that the political parties had to decide on those matters.
The Secretary said that question time is there for members to elicit information from government or get government to act on a particular matter. She added that follow- up questions were primarily reserved for the member who asked the initial question and not parties. Priority should be given to that member to ask the follow- up questions. She also said that the Presiding Officers ruled on questions and that it was the Presiding Officer’s domain to rule on whether the question was a supplementary question or a new question. On this matter, the Presiding Officer does not have to wait for a point of order to be raised in order to protect the Minister.
Mr Sulliman joined the meeting at that time.
Mr Watson expressed his concern regarding the statement made by the Secretary and asked whether she had said that follow- up questions were only allowed for the member who asked the primary question and that other members were not allowed to ask follow- up questions.
The Secretary responded that the member who asked the initial question has priority in asking a follow-up question but that it was not restricted to that member.
The Deputy Chairperson requested the political parties to consider the matter and to finalise it at the next Rules Committee meeting. He also requested the Chief Whip and the Programming Whip to co- ordinate the discussions and finalisation thereof.
The Chief Whip responded that the matter would be discussed in the multi-party whips forum meeting.
Political parties to consider the matter and to finalise it at the next Rules Committee meeting.
The Chief Whip and the Programming Whip to co- ordinate the discussions and finalisation thereof.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:58.
Hon Mr M J Mahlangu, MP
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces
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