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DRAFT MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS
3 June 2005
These minutes were provided by the National Assembly Table Staff
Chairpersons: Mr N P Nhleko (Acting Speaker)
Mr M J Mahlangu (Chairperson of the NCOP)
Draft Leave Policy
National Council of Provinces
Dlulane, B N
Doidge, G Q M
Kolweni, Z S
Doman, W P
Matlanyane, H F
Ellis, M J
Oliphant, M N
Green, L M
Setona, T S
Jeffery, J H
Sulliman, M A
Johnson, C B
Van Heerden, F J
Kondlo, N C
Vilakazi, J N
Maluleke, H P
Windvoël, V V Z
Masutha, T M
Modisenyane, L J
Nefolovhodwe, P J
Nel, A C
Nene, N M
Newhoudt-Druchen, W S
Pule, B E
Seaton, S A
Schmidt, H A
Tsenoli, S L
Van der Merwe, J H
Van Wyk, A
Staff in attendance:
M Coetzee (Deputy Secretary to Parliament); K Hahndiek (Secretary to the NA); L Matyolo (Secretary to the NCOP); H Charlton (Chief Financial Officer); L Klassen (Manager: Institutional Support Division); N Keswa (Manager: Legislation and Oversight Division); E Palmer (Chief Legal Adviser); K Mansura (Undersecretary: National Assembly); B V L Momoti (NCOP Procedural Services Office); K Ahmed (International Relations); D Ramurunzi (Legal Services Office); R Mohlomi (NA Table), J Borien (NCOP Procedural Services Office)
Opening and welcome
The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces opened the meeting at 09:10.
Apologies (Item 1 on agenda)
Apologies were tendered on behalf of the Speaker of the NA, the Deputy Speaker of the NA, the Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, O Bapela, M R Baloyi, F Bhengu, F I Chohan, D H M Gibson, M T Goniwe, S H Gqobana (Eastern Cape), L L Mabe, I S Mfundisi, L M Mokoena, C P Mulder, M A Mzizi, C C September, D J Sithole, E Thabethe, P M Themba, J O Thlagale, P Tshwete.
Staff: Z A Dingani (Secretary to Parliament) and M S Mbangula (Manager: Corporate Services Division)
Consideration of agenda (Item 2 on agenda)
The agenda, as presented, was agreed to.
Consideration of draft minutes of special meeting on 18 February 2005 (Item 3 on agenda)
On the proposal of Mr Ellis, seconded by Ms Oliphant, the minutes of 18 February were agreed to.
Report of Presiding Officers on developments concerning abuse of travel facilities (Item 4.1 on agenda)
The Chairperson of the NCOP indicated that the recommendations of the Task Team considering reports of PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Director of Public Prosecutions had been circulated to Members of the Joint Rules Committee. The Chairperson then proceeded to highlight the recommendations with respect to systems, procurement, investigations, disciplinary action and public communication and information. He said that the Presiding Officers would have to follow up on the recommendations that had been made, and concluded by extending his thanks on behalf of the Presiding Officers, to the Task Team under the leadership of
Ms C-S Botha.
Mr Ellis said that although the recommendations of the Task Team indicated that Members should be directly involved in the establishment and development of the new travel system, the information which he had received was to the effect that the new system was to be launched later that day and that training for Members on the new system was to take place the following week. He was concerned that Members had not been involved in the development of the new system and that it was being foisted upon them without consultation.
Mr Van der Merwe said that it was important that Members be involved in the development of the new system because of the difficulties that had been experienced in the past. He also expressed concern that the new system was devised by parliamentary staff without Members' input.
Having been asked by the Chairperson to respond, the Deputy Secretary explained that the new travel system was not being launched later that day and that the month of June would be used as a period for training Members on the system.
Mr Ellis requested the Deputy Secretary to provide clarity on what launch would be taking place later that day.
The Deputy Secretary replied that the administrative system, Oracle ERP, was being launched for staff later that day and that the new travel system would only come into operation on 1 July.
The Chairperson said that the training would start from 1 June so that Members could ask questions and make proposals on what aspects of the new system would work and what would not.
Mr Nel said that the agenda item that was being discussed related to the report of the Presiding Officers on the Task Team and that the Report had been presented.
Mr Ellis responded that he had raised the issue of the launch because it was in contradiction with what was contained in the recommendations of the Task Team.
Ms Seaton said that the IFP had received no information about the training for Members or about the launch that was to take place.
Mr Windvoël said that the issue of the launch was not related to the report of the Task Team and that the issues about the miscommunication was a matter which the Deputy Secretary and Mr Ellis could discuss outside of the meeting.
Mr Ellis said that the training would not be taking place, unless the new system was already "cast in stone".
Mr Jeffery said that the aim was to implement the new system by 1 July 2005, but that it should be left to the Presiding Officers to assess the situation and decide on whether the deadline for implementation should be "cast in stone".
Mr Nefolovhodwe said that Members had realised that the existing travel system could not be continued with and it appeared as if the Office of the Secretary to Parliament was trying to assist by introducing a new system without any undue delay. He said that the issue was whether there was a reasonable amount of time for all Members to be trained on the new system by 1 July.
Mr Ellis said that he was not seeking to prolong the process, but was concerned about Members not being involved in the development of the new system.
The Chairperson said that the training that Members would be receiving would allow them to make inputs and propose amendments to the new system. He said that the Parliamentary Oversight Authority had agreed to the process that was to be followed and that Members should allow the process to unfold.
(i) That the process with respect to the training of Members on the new system would continue.
(ii) That through the training Members would be able to make inputs and propose amendments to the new system.
(iii) That the intended date for the implementation of the new system (i.e. 1 July 2005) was not "cast in stone".
Consideration of draft minutes of meeting of 4 February 2005 (Item 5 on agenda)
On the proposal of Mr Doman, seconded by Ms Seaton, the minutes of 4 February were agreed to.
7. International Relations: Establishment of structured relations with European Union and other regional bodies (Item 6.1 on agenda)
Mr Kayum Ahmed presented the document entitled "International Relations Policy Discussion: Identifying the Core Values that Inform Parliament’s Approach to International Relations".
Ms Seaton raised a concern that the document had not been circulated prior to the meeting.
Responding to a question raised about the structure in Parliament that should be dealing with the issues raised in the recommendations, Mr Ahmed said that since the Joint Subcommittee on International Relations no longer existed, there was no specific body that was responsible for driving the process forward.
The Chairperson said that although the Joint Subcommittee on International Relations had been established in the previous Parliament, it had not functioned effectively.
Mr Jeffery said that since the document had been compiled by parliamentary staff, political parties needed to consider it, and have further discussion on the matter. He suggested that the parliamentary staff might be requested to make proposals regarding the structure that would be responsible for Parliament’s international relations.
It was suggested that it might also be necessary for the parliamentary staff to provide information on the existing relationships which Parliament had with other parliaments.
The Chairperson proposed that the document be referred to parties for consideration and that it be discussed at the next meeting of the Joint Rules Committee. He said that it would be more appropriate for political parties to deal with the issue of the structure that was to be responsible for Parliament’s international relations.
That the document headed "International Relations Policy Discussion Document: Identifying the Core Values that Inform Parliament’s Approach to International Relations" be distributed to all Members of the Joint Rules Committee.
That the document be considered by parties for discussion at the next meeting of the Joint Rules Committee.
That the issue of structures in Parliament to deal with matters of international relations be considered by parties for discussion at the next meeting of the Joint Rules Committee
8. Parliament’s International Relations (Item 6.2 on agenda)
AGREED: That in light of the decision in respect of item 6.1, the matter did not require discussion.
9. Provisions from the Interim Constitution still in operation
Operationalising Joint Committee on Oversight of Security Matters (Item 6.3 on agenda)
Adv Ramurunzi from the Parliamentary Law Office highlighted the key issues which were contained in the legal opinion which had been provided. He said that the Joint Standing Committee on Oversight of Security Matters was tasked with oversight of the SANDF and SAPS with respect to their budgets, functioning, organisation, policy and morale. The committees that were currently conducting oversight on security matters were the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Portfolio Committee on Defence, the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security, the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. The law advisers were therefore of the opinion that the current structures for oversight of the security services were already fulfilling the functions envisaged for the Joint Committee on Oversight of Security Matters and that constituting the Joint Committee would amount to a duplication of functions.
Adv Ramurunzi concluded by saying that Joint Rules 117 and 119 would only come into effect after section 228 of the Interim Constitution had been repealed. Until such time the oversight function concerning the SANDF must be performed by the Joint Standing Committee on Defence.
Mr Jeffery said that the issue of the provisions in the Interim Constitution that were still in operation had been discussed by the Constitutional Review Committee and that the Committee had been in contact with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. He said that it might have been useful if the Constitutional Review Committee had made its report available to the Joint Rules Committee. Mr Jeffery also asked that the legal opinion which Adv Ramurunzi had referred to be distributed to Members of the Joint Rules Committee.
That the legal opinion of the Parliamentary Law Advisers on the issue of operationalising the Joint Committee on Oversight and Security Matters be distributed to all members of the Joint Rules Committee.
(ii) That a decision on the matter of operationalising the Joint Committee on Oversight and Security Matters be postponed until the JRC had received a report from the Constitutional Review Committee with respect to provisions of the Interim Constitution still in operation.
10. Progress Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Review of Joint Rules (Item 6.4 on agenda)
Adv Masutha said that there were three individual reports which he would be presenting to the Joint Rules Committee.
a) The Interim Report concerning rules to give effect to the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004
Adv Masutha said that the Act came into operation by promulgation in 2004 and that it necessitated the adjustment of the rules. Firstly, section 12 of the Act required that each House establish a standing committee to deal with all enquiries relating to contempt of Parliament. The Joint Subcommittee had proposed that the rules providing for the section 12 committee should provide for a single committee of each House to consider all forms of contempt and that the definition of contempt should be developed as allowed by the Act.
Secondly, the Act provided that a person summonsed to appear before a House or Committee, including a joint committee was entitled to be paid an amount for his or her expenses. The NA Rules and NCOP Rules made provision for this, but the Joint Rules were silent. The Joint Subcommittee had proposed that provision be made in the Joint Rules for payment of expenses where a joint committee summonsed a person.
Thirdly, the Act removed the common law privilege of a witness not to make self-incriminating statements. Furthermore section 16 read with section 17 of the Act provided that a witness could be held criminally liable if he or she failed to answer fully and satisfactorily all questions lawfully put to him or her; or failed to produce any document in his or her possession, custody or control. The Subcommittee had proposed that a provision be included in the rules requiring a House or committee through its presiding officer to inform a witness of his or her rights prior to giving evidence.
Mr Ellis said that he was a member of the Subcommittee and supported the report delivered by Adv Masutha. He agreed that having two committees dealing with matters of discipline could be problematic and therefore supported the proposal that one committee be established to deal with all disciplinary matters.
Mr Nel also indicated support for the proposal of one committee being established.
To the Subcommittee’s proposals relating to:
The integration of the Disciplinary Committee in the National Assembly and the Committee required to be established in terms of section 12 of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2004.
The payment of expenses of witnesses
The issuing of a warning to witnesses prior to them giving evidence
b) The Interim Report concerning rules to give effect to section 18(1) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003
Adv Masutha said that the Act took effect on 24 September 2004. The Subcommittee considered that the rules should provide for a determination of whether a Bill pertains to customary law or customs of traditional communities as soon as possible in the legislative process and for a referral of a Bill subject to section 18(1) of the Act to the National House of Traditional Leaders by the Secretary to Parliament.
That the Subcommittee’s draft rules to give effect to section 18(1) of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003 be adopted.
c) The Report on the draft leave policy for members of Parliament
Adv Masutha said that the draft leave policy had been adopted as a working document by the Joint Rules Committee. The policy provided for the different types of leave that Members were entitled to, the processes involved in applying for such leave and the conditions attached thereto.The Subcommittee had raised certain concerns regarding legal and constitutional implications and had sought legal advice. Since the draft leave policy had not yet been adopted, Adv Masutha suggested that political parties consider the draft leave policy and make recommendations.
Mr Jeffery said that he agreed that the parties needed to look at the draft policy in more detail. One of the issues was for example, what was the role of the House and what was the role of the party in ensuring the attendance of Members.
Mr Ellis said that he agreed that parties needed to consider the draft policy document.
Adv Masutha, supported by Mr Jeffery raised concerns that the Subcommittee was not receiving the necessary support, both administrative and legal, that it needed to carry out its functions. Adv Masutha requested that additional staff be made available to assist the team.
(i) That, noting that the draft leave policy had not yet been adopted, the document be referred to parties for further consideration. After adoption at a policy level by the Joint Rules Committee, the Subcommittee could proceed to consider appropriate rule amendments.
(ii) The Office of the Secretary take steps to provide the Joint Subcommittee on Review of Rules with the adequate administrative and legal support, and report thereon to the next meeting of the Joint Rules Committee.
Progress Report by the Task Team on Oversight and Accountability (Item 6.5 on agenda)
Mr Nhleko, presented the document entitled "Oversight and Accountability Presentation – "
He highlighted the progress which had been made in each of the three Focus Groups. He also referred to the statement of definition as included in the document which had been circulated. Mr Nhleko concluded by alerting Members to the Challenges and Immediate Tasks of the Task Team, namely:
Lack of participation from politicians on the Task Team and Focus Group Level.
Lack of participation from the NCOP
Closer collaboration needed between the two Houses
Political leadership should take responsibility for the participation.
Mr Ellis said that the DA had also done some work with respect to the issues of oversight and accountability and asked whether their input could be tabled at the next meeting of the Task Team.
Mr Nhleko said that the intention was for parties to engage with the issues raised in the report and then provide feedback to the Task Team.
(i) That the report of the Task Team on Oversight and Accountability would be noted as work in progress; and
(ii) That political parties would give attention to the issues raised therein,
particularly the statement of definition.
12. Consideration of draft parliamentary travel policy (Item 6.6 on agenda)
Mr Doidge said that parties needed to comment on the draft policy.
Ms Seaton said that the IFP could not accept the draft policy since it did not take into account that the IFP had always been specifically included where the delegation was composed of 5 or more Members. The proposal from the IFP was that the size of the delegation should always be 6 Members.
Mr Nel said that he agreed that the matter had taken a long time to finalise and that although lot of work had gone into the document, the salient political issues that required decision needed to be discussed. The second issue was that the document was before the Joint Rules Committee, yet referred only to the National Assembly. Thirdly, the document seemed to refer mainly to travel by committees and not so much about Parliament’s international obligations. He proposed that the matter be referred to the Parliamentary Oversight Authority.
AGREED: That the document headed "Draft Framework and Proposals for Parliamentary Travel Policy" be referred to the Parliamentary Oversight Authority for consideration and report.
13. Closing (Item 7 on agenda)
The meeting adjourned at 11:34.
Mr M J Mahlangu Mr N P Nhleko
(Chairperson of the NCOP) (Acting Speaker of the NA)
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