Oversight Committee on Auditor-General; Downsizing all Parliamentary Committees

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE
14 October 2005
ESTABLISHMENT OF OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON AUDITOR-GENERAL; DOWNSIZING ALL PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

Chairperson:
Ms G Mahlangu-Nkabinde (NA Deputy Speaker)

Documents handed out:
Ms Hogan’s proposal on Oversight Committee on the Auditor-General
Memorandum: Proposed Reduction of Committee Membership
Written complaint by Mr Jayendra Naidoo about reference to him in the Assembly
Summary of decisions from this meeting (see Appendix A)
Official Committee Minute for 14 October 2005 (see Appendix B)

SUMMARY
The Committee discussed the establishment of an Oversight Committee on the Auditor-General. The proposals contained in the document of Ms B Hogan (ANC) were agreed upon. It was decided that all Committees would be downsized to 13 Members each: the ANC would have eight Members; the DA would have two; the IFP would have one; and one position each would be left for two of the smaller Parties. It was also agreed that the smaller Parties would operate as a cluster represented by three Whips. Some of the busiest Committees, such as the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and the Portfolio Committees on, Justice and Education, would retain 17 Members. Exceptions would be decided on a case-by-case basis. The Chairperson stated that this recommendation could be revisited at a later stage if Parties were dissatisfied.

The Committee also dealt with a few minor technical issues following the recent floor-crossing. Members agreed that the reference in the Constitution to the ‘Leader of the Opposition’ would be passed on to the Joint Rules Committee for urgent review. The National Assembly Speaker was mandated to set up a task team to deal with the complaint by Mr Jayendra Naidoo about a reference about him in the Assembly.

MINUTES

Oversight Committee on the Auditor-General
Mr A Nel (ANC Deputy Chief Whip) felt that the Oversight Committee on the Auditor-General needed to be separate from any other committee in Parliament. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, the workload of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) was already very heavy. Secondly, the core function of SCOPA was to look at the reports of the Auditor-General, whereas this Committee should be overseeing the function of the Office of the Auditor-General and conflation of these roles would lead to unnecessary complications. It was proposed that a Standing Committee on the Auditor-General should be established, consisting of 13 Members. The functions of this Committee would be broadly in line with the demands of the Public Audit Act (No 25 of 2004).

All Members present agreed that the Committee was desirable. Mr Ellis (DA) felt that 13 Members was the correct size, taking into account the current number of Parties.

Mr J Jeffrey (ANC) agreed. The issue of skills was up to the Parties and was not appropriate for this Committee to decide. Mr Ellis asked whether the Committee should provide guidelines. Mr Nel pointed out that these were contained in the document.

Mr C Mulder (FFP) asked how the 13 Members would be composed with regard to Party representation and asked if this composition would have more general application across all Committees.

Composition of all Parliamentary Committees
Mr Nel proposed reducing the size of all Committees from the present average size of 17 Members for three reasons. Firstly, Members should belong to as few Committees as possible in order to allow them to correctly function and master their topics. Secondly, clashes from membership in different Committees would be minimised, and so the problem of quorums could be addressed. Thirdly, although the level of administrative and research support had improved, if Members were stretched across fewer Committees, the existing support could be used more effectively.

It was proposed that the number of Committee Members be reduced to 13. The document by the Chief Whip’s Forum on downsizing Committees suggested two proposals. The first gave the ANC eight Members; the DA two; the IFP one; leaving one position each to two of the smaller Parties. The second proposal gave the ANC seven Members; the DA two; the IFP one; and three positions left for the smaller Parties, with not more than one to be taken by each Party.

Mr Nel said it had to be accepted that it was not possible for all Parties to be represented on all Committees. The Rules of Parliament allowed any Member at any time to attend or participate in a Committee meeting, although that did not allow that Member to vote. He recognised that certain Committees were currently bigger due to workload or particular Party interest, such as SCOPA, Justice and Education. The proposal was to retain 15 Members for these Committees. Exceptions would also be accommodated if there were compelling reasons, but this would be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Ms S Seaton (IFP) asked whether the size of the Rules and Joint Committees would also be reduced. Mr Nel answered that these committees should be examined on individual merit.

Mr P Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) proposed that for the larger Committees, 17 Members would be a preferable limit. Some Committees were currently functioning well at that size and the capacity developed should not be disturbed.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) agreed as she wanted greater flexibility and choice for the smaller Parties regarding on which Committees they could be represented.

Mr Mulder stated that in the past, specific agreements in exceptional cases had worked well. The Committee should proceed with 13 Members as the general rule. All Members had the opportunity to vote on the matter in the National Assembly ("the House") if they were not on the Committee itself.

Ms Seaton suggested that problems would be alleviated if smaller Parties were allowed greater access to information.

In reply to a question asking if this proposal would affect the composition of Joint Committees, Mr Nel said that it would. The feedback from Chairpersons was that Joint Committees had been struggling to achieve the necessary quorums, so the downsizing should help them.

The Chairperson summarised that the Committee was agreeing to reduce the size of Committees to 13 Members and commented that this could be revisited at a later stage if Parties were dissatisfied. She asked which of the two proposals for composition Members preferred.

Ms Seaton favoured the proposal that gave the ANC have seven Members to allow greater representation to smaller Parties. Ms Dudley agreed because of the huge increase in the number of Parties.

Mr Nel supported the proposal that gave the ANC eight Members as a general rule to ensure there were no quorum problems. This also provided a more accurate reflection of proportional strength of the Parties. Existing Committees of 13 Members, such as the Joint Monitoring Committees, used this composition.

Ms Dudley asked whether a third proposal could be considered: that each Committee be comprised of 14 Members, eight of whom would belong to the ANC and three of whom could be available to the smaller Parties.

Mr Nel proposed the Committee pass the proposal as it stood, as the priority was to enable Members to keep up with their workloads.

Mr G Doidge (Parliament Chairperson of Committees) asked whether the Parliamentary Rule that a Member could attend any meeting, should be changed to allow them to vote.

Mr Nel said this would leave voting open to unacceptable influence. A "burning issue" would result in too many MPs attending the Committee session in question. The relationship between the main body of Parliament and the Committees should not be forgotten. The Committees processed the issues, and votes could be cast in the final instance at the National Assembly.

Dr G Woods (National Democratic Convention) said there was no choice but to accept the ANC proposal as it had broad support. problems arising could be brought up later.

Mr Nefolovhodwe wanted assurance that those attending but not voting would be sent the necessary and relevant documentation to allow them to participate.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had agreed to accept the proposal that gave the ANC eight Members in the general composition of Committees.

In response to a question asking if minority views would be reported. Mr K Hahndiek (Secretary to Parliament National Assembly) answered that there were specific Rules provisions stating that minority views should be reported with regards to Bills, but that it was up to the Committee to include what it considered appropriate in its own report.

Mr Nel stated that on the issue of documentation, a system should be put in place so all Members could access all information. This system should be on the internet. The Chairperson said that Mr Doidge would work on a proposal on this subject.

Allocation of Party Whips
Mr Nel presented the proposal on the allocation of Whips. The smaller Parties would be clustered and represented by three Whips. There had been no disagreement among those at the Chief Whips Forum about this. The Forum had felt that a greater number of Whips was needed, particularly because the current situation gathered smaller Parties into politically incongruous groups. The Chairperson said this was an important issue but not for discussion at this meeting.

Ms Dudley said it was a bad idea to cluster small groups together with opposing political views. She proposed each Party have their own Whip and that the limited resources be spread proportionately between them.

The Chairperson stated all were agreed on the current proposal. There was an urgent need for small Parties to meet to discuss this.

Other issues
The proposed change to the sequence of Parties for Members’ Statements (as necessitated by the floor-crossing) was presented. Members agreed that this would be for a trial period until the end of this quarter. The proposal was that instead of 14 minutes, there should be 15 minutes dedicated to this. The ANC would have six; the DA would have three; the IFP would have two; and smaller Parties would share the remaining four among themselves.

Mr Hahndiek commented that a new Parliamentary Rule would be needed to accommodate this.

Mr Ellis asked what would happen if a Party did not use its allocated time. Mr Nell said that if there was an unused opportunity, the ANC would be granted the time. If they did not use it, the time would be allocated to the DA, then the IFP, and so on.

In answer to a question about whether the order in which the smaller Parties were listed in the document was relevant, Mr Mulder said that the sequence of Parties had been decided by agreement between them.

Mr Masithela stated that the sequence of questions was related to this. The decision rested with the Chief Whip’s Forum, although in practice it would be the same as the Member Statements.

Mr Nel introduced the question of the application of Parliamentary Rule 66. This had arisen after a request by the Auditor-General and recent critical media comments around the person and Office of the Public Protector. The Chief Whip’s Forum was concerned that some of the criticism went beyond the limits of fair interaction and began to undermine the Office. A task team had been put together to develop the discussion on dealing with the Public Prosecutor and Chapter Nine institutions in general.

Mr J. Sibanyoni and Mr T Masutha were prepared to present on this issue but it was decided that the matter was still a work in progress and further research should be reported back at a later date.

Ms Seaton raised the issue that the Constitution referred to the ‘Leader of the Opposition’. The smaller Parties had problems with this wording.

Mr Nefolovhodwe agreed. The issue needed to be resolved soon as media reports seemed to suggest that only one opposition Party was present.

The Chairperson said there was general agreement that this should be referred as an urgent matter to the Joint Rules Committee, despite reservations from Mr M Ellis (DA, Deputy Chief Whip of the Opposition) and Ms C Botha (DA, House Chairperson: Internal Arrangements).

Mr Hahndiek brought up the request by Mr Jayendra Naidoo for a response to a remark by a Member. He said that the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act, No 4 of 2004 provided that this should go to the Standing Committee on Powers and Privileges. As this did not yet exist and the matter needed to be dealt with urgently, the Rules Committee had two options. It could mandate a task team itself or ask the NA Speaker to set up a task team. Mr Nel supported the proposal that the Committee mandate the Speaker to set up a task team.

Mr Nel then raised the issue of accommodation in Parliamentary Villages. Current legislation was specific on who was allowed to stay in such accommodation, and this was being reviewed. He asked if interim measures could be put in place as some flats were currently standing empty and the facility was not being optimally utilised.

Mr Ellis expressed concern that interim measures could become permanent arrangements. Ms Seaton supported interim changes and felt preference should to be given to Members over support staff.

The Chairperson stated that these were not matters for this Committee and would be better handled by the Presiding Officers.

Mr Mulder asked about the new seating arrangements in the House. The Chairperson stated that this was a matter for the Chief Whip’s Forum to decide.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

 

Appendix A:

This summary is provided by the NA Table staff member, Mr M Xaso.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NA) RULES COMMITTEE

SUMMARY OF DECISIONS

  1. Establishment of Oversight Mechanism: Auditor-General (Item 4 on agenda)
  2. Agreed:

    1. A separate Standing Committee to be established, the committee to consist of 13 members.
    2. Its functions to be broadly those contained in the Public Audit Act, namely to oversee the functions of the Auditor-General.
    3. Same formula as with other committees to be used for party representation.
    4. Subcommittee on the Review of Rules to draft Rule amendments based on proposals submitted by the ANC which were adopted as a framework.
    5. Proposed Rule amendments by the Subcommittee to be presented to the Speaker and circulated to parties and then put directly to the House for adoption.
    6. Parties to take into account the issue of skills requirements in appointing members to the Committee.
    7. Recruitment of secretary to the committee to start immediately.
  3. Issues arising from floor-crossing (Item 5 on agenda)
    1. Composition of committees

Agreed:

    1. The number of members on portfolio committees to be reduced from 17 to 13 as follows: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and smaller parties 2.
    2. In regard to other committees other than portfolio committees, composition to be decided on merit.
    3. Smaller parties to meet and report back to the NA Rules Committee with motivation if there is a need/request to increase the membership of certain committees, in which case previous attendance records should also be provided.
    4. Committee documentation

    5. All information on committees (committee documents) to be electronically available (on website).
    6. House Chairperson Mr Doidge to look into proposals in this regard and report to the Speaker on how best this can be implemented.
    7. An updated parliamentary programme also to be available on website.
    1. Allocation of whips

Agreed:

    1. Total number of whips to be 47 with ANC – 34, DA – 5, IFP – 3, UDM – 1, ID – 1, Smaller parties – 3.
    2. Current formula for the allocation of whips to be reviewed by the Chief Whips’ Forum (CWF), taking into account concerns raised by parties in this regard, and report back to the Rules Committee.
    1. Sequence of parties for members’ statements (and questions)

Agreed:

    1. Based on Chief Whips’ Forum’s task team proposal, the number of statements to be increased from 14 to 15 and ministerial responses from 5 to 6. As a consequence, 2 additional minutes to be added to ministerial responses.
    2. A trial period to be allowed for the new arrangement, the new order to be as follows: ANC – 6, DA – 3, IFP – 2 and Smaller Parties 4.
    3. Rotation of smaller parties to be decided by the smaller parties.
    4. If a party does not use its slot, the Presiding Officer to start at the beginning of the sequence until 15 opportunities are utilized (as is the current practice).
    5. Sequence of questions to be determined by the Chief Whips’ Forum.
  1. Legacy Issues (Item 6 on agenda)
    1. Application of Rule 66
    2. Work in progress

    3. Report by Speaker on monitoring of replies to questions
    4. Report was given on behalf of the Speaker that she would engage with Leader of Government Business (LOGB).

    5. Report by Speaker on failure of state departments to submit annual reports in compliance with the Public Finance management Act

Report was given on behalf of the Speaker that she would engage with LOGB.

  1. Recognition and role of the leader of the opposition–Progress report (Item 7 on agenda)
  2. Issue of contradictions in title of leader of opposition between the Constitution and the Rules is still under consideration by the Subcommittee on Review of Rules. NA Table is also conducting research on the issue of recognition of leader of the opposition.

    Agreed:

    Appropriateness of the title "leader of opposition" to be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee for consideration.

  3. Request by Mr Jayendra Naidoo to have response to a remark by a member recorded. (Item 8 on agenda)
  4. Agreed:

    Speaker to establish a Task Team to assess the matter and advise her accordingly.

  5. Report on referral to subcommittee on Review of Rules (Item 9 on agenda)
    1. Governance model and revised role of Rules Committee
    2. Report was given on behalf of the Speaker that the Governance model would be tabled in the House for adoption and the matter of Rule amendments would be referred to the Joint Subcommittee on Review of Rules for consideration.

    3. Proposed Rule changes: House Chairpersons

Report was given on behalf of the Speaker that the matter of Rule amendments had been referred to the NA Review of Rules Committee for consideration.

  1. Parliamentary villages (additional agenda item proposed by Mr Nel)
    1. Matter of accommodation for staff in parliamentary villages referred to the Parliamentary Oversight Authority for consideration.
    2. Mr Nel to make a submission on the matter to the Parliamentary Oversight Authority.

 

 

Appendix B

 

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY (NA) RULES COMMITTEE

 

Chairperson: Secretary:

Speaker of the National Assembly Tharina Abell

NA Table

X2262

cabell@parliament.gov.za

 

 

DRAFT MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS: 14 OCTOBER 2005

Present:

Mahlangu-Nkabinde G L (Acting Speaker)

Doidge G Q M (Acting Deputy Speaker)

Botha C-S (House Chairperson)

Baloyi M R (ANC) Ngaleka E (ANC)

Dudley C (ACDP) Njikelana S J (ANC) (alt)

Ellis M (DA) Seaton S A (IFP)

Jeffery J H (ANC) Sibanyoni J B (ANC) (alt)

Madikiza G T (UDM) (alt) Simmons S (UPSA)

Masutha T M (ANC) (alt) Tsenoli S L (ANC)

Morkel C M (PIM) Van den Heever R P Z (ANC)

Mulder C P (FF Plus) Van Wyk A (ANC)

Nefolovhodwe P J (Azapo) Woods G G (Nadeco)

Nel A C (ANC)

Staff in Attendance: K Hahndiek (Secretary to National Assembly), M Vassen (Legal Services)

  1. Apologies
  2. Apologies were received from:

    Chohan-Khota F I (ANC) (alt) Mfundisi I S (UCDP)

    Gibson D H M (DA) Nene N M (ANC) (alt)

    Kalyan S (DA) Sithole D J (ANC) (alt)

    Kondlo N C (ANC) Van der Merwe J H (IFP)

    Maluleka H P (ANC) (alt) Rajbally S (MF)

  3. Adoption of agenda
  4. The agenda was adopted without additions.

  5. Consideration of minutes of 8 June 2005

On the motion of Mr Doidge, seconded by Mr Jeffery, the minutes of 8 June 2005 were adopted.

  1. Establishment of Oversight Mechanism: Auditor-General

The Acting Speaker indicated that Ms Hogan’s submission on this matter had been distributed to all members before the meeting.

With reference to Ms Hogan’s submission, Mr Doidge said that the proposal was that a committee be established with a membership of between 10 and 12 members, and that specific skills should be the criteria for the appointment of members to serve on the committee.

 

The Acting Speaker added that the submission also proposed that the committee be a multi party structure, smaller parties be represented, and the skills of members be taken into consideration.

Mr Nel pointed out that the proposal by Ms Hogan was that an oversight mechanism be established in terms of the Public Audit Act and this mechanism should not form part of SCOPA. He indicated that currently SCOPA had a heavy workload and in any event SCOPA’s core function was consideration of reports from the Auditor-General. The new committee should however oversee the functions of the Auditor-General in general.

He proposed that the Oversight Committee on the Auditor-General as proposed be established. The committee should consist of 13 members and its functions broadly be those contained in the Public Audit Act.

Mr Ellis agreed with the proposal and said that in light of the new parties represented in the National Assembly after floor-crossing he would support the size of 13 members also for Portfolio Committees.

Mr Jeffery, in reference to a written submission by the ANC on the matter, said that the document was merely enlarging on Ms Hogan’s document, adding that the skills of representatives should be for the different parties to decide. Mr Ellis agreed that it was the prerogative of a party to appoint representatives, but emphasised that parties in appointing their representatives should keep in mind Ms Hogan’s proposed guidelines.

Mr Nel thanked Ms Hogan on behalf of the ANC for her work and assistance. He pointed out that the ANC’s proposal was in the form of rule amendments and proposed that it be adopted as a framework document. He further urged the meeting to keep in mind certain standard provisions on committee procedures.

Mr Doidge pointed out that certain skills requirements had been proposed for the committee secretary in Ms Hogan’s document, and requested that the recruitment of the secretary to the committee start immediately.

Mr Jeffery proposed that the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules should draft the necessary rule amendments, giving effect to the decision to establish the Committee. The Subcommittee should consult with parties and submit the rule amendments directly to the House for approval.

Agreed to:

  • A separate Standing Committee to be established, the committee to consist of 13 members.
  • Its functions to be broadly those contained in the Public Audit Act, namely to oversee the functions of the Auditor-General.
  • Same formula as with other committees to be used for party representation.
  • Subcommittee on the Review of Rules to draft Rule amendments based on proposals submitted by the ANC which were adopted as a framework.
  • Proposed Rule amendments by the Subcommittee to be presented to the Speaker and circulated to parties and then put directly to the House for adoption.
  • Parties to take into account the issue of skills requirements in appointing members to the Committee.
  • Recruitment of secretary to the committee to start immediately.

 

  1. Issues arising from floor-crossing
      1. Composition of Committees

Mr Nel reported that this matter had been discussed in the Chief Whips’ Forum and it had been proposed that the size of committees be reduced from the current size of 17 members. The reduction of size would make it possible for members to belong to as few committees as possible. It would minimize clashes and also address current quorum problems. Mr Nel’s proposal, on behalf of the Chief Whips’ Forum, was that committee membership be reduced to 13 members as follows: ANC 8 members, DA 2 members, IFP 1 member and smaller parties 2 representatives OR ANC 7 members, DA 2 members, IFP 1 member and smaller parties 3 representatives.

He said that the point was made in the Chief Whips’ Forum that all parties would like to be represented on all committees. However, the Rules provided that any member may participate or attend any committee meeting. This change in membership would therefore not exclude any MP from the work of any committee. Provisions for slightly bigger committees could also be considered e.g. for committees like the Education Committee and SCOPA, a membership of 15 could be considered. The Rules Committee would have to look at the real reasons for such requests.

Ms Seaton asked whether the membership of the National Assembly Rules Committee and the Joint Rules Committee would also be reduced. Mr Nel responded that some committees would have to be looked at individually. Mr Nefolovhodwe said that a general agreement on the issue of the size of committees had been reached at the Chief Whips’ Forum. He suggested that the membership of some committees, where flexibility was needed, should not exceed 17.

Ms Dudley agreed with the proposal by Mr Nel.

Dr Mulder pointed out that the difference between the proposals on committee composition was only in respect of the membership of the ANC and the smaller parties. He agreed with the proposed membership of 13 and indicated that he would come back to the committee with a motivation if there was a need for some of the committees to be bigger.

Ms Seaton said that it was currently problematic for non-members of committees to access information e.g. agendas. Mr Doidge indicated that at the back of the Z-list (parliamentary publication on committee meetings), contact details of committee clerks were available to help in this regard.

Mr Mansura pointed out that the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests currently had 18 members and asked if the restructuring of committee composition would also affect Joint Committees in general. Mr Nel said that the chairpersons of joint committees currently had difficulty getting quorums for meetings. The reduction in membership would therefore benefit the joint committees.

Ms Dudley proposed that a third option be considered where the ANC would have 8 representatives and the smaller parties 3 representatives. Mr Nel disagreed and urged that the committee stick to 13 members on each committee. He said that a motivation should be brought before the Rules Committee if there was a need for more members on a particular committee.

In response to a question from Dr Mulder regarding the number of Portfolio and Standing Committees, Mr Doidge said that there were currently 27 portfolio committees and 2 standing committees, excluding the joint committees. Dr Mulder said that with this number of committees it was already difficult for the smaller parties to attend all committee meetings.

Mr Doidge said that in his view one of the problems with regard to committee attendance was the fact that non-members of the committee were not allowed to vote.

Mr Nel said that the non-voting rule must stand. If it did not exist, problems could occur, whereby people would descend on a committee only when a burning issue had to be decided on. Mr Nefolovhodwe agreed that the non-voting rule must stand and decisions should be determined in terms of the quorum of the specific committee. He further agreed that there was nothing wrong with any member attending and participating in committees. Mr Morkel said that everybody may vote in the plenary and members were also allowed to raise their objections in committee meetings. He requested that the issue of majority and minority reports be clarified.

Mr Hahndiek indicated that there were no provisions in the Rules for minority reports. Minority views could be noted in respect of reports and the manner in which the minority views were reflected on bills would be for the committee to decide.

Ms Dudley raised a concern that in view of the agreed size of committees, each smaller party member would only serve on 1 committee. Mr Jeffery pointed out that apart from all the Portfolio and Standing Committees the attendance of subcommittees made the workload even worse.

Ms Botha agreed with the proposal for 13 members with the following composition: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and smaller parties 2 and suggested that it be implemented for a trial period where after problems could be assessed. The Acting Speaker requested the House Chairpersons to monitor the issue of committee attendance.

Mr Nefolovhodwe requested that committee chairpersons take note of members that register as participants in certain committees. It should be ensured that these members receive committee documentation.

Mr Nel requested that Presiding Officers put a process in place for a system where any MP could access committee information at any time. This system could have a function for members to subscribe to receive documents. All relevant committee documents must be available online and the process to have all of this in place should be expedited.

The Acting Speaker agreed that all committee documentation should be available on the website. There should also be a function in the system where members could submit their views on a subject to a committee via the website. Members should be encouraged to obtain 3G (wireless internet access), which would enable them to always access information. Mr Doidge was requested to instruct the Committee Section to attend to this matter immediately and report on progress in this regard. A trial period to get this process in place would run until the end of the year.

Mr Madikiza requested that all information be distributed to alternate members as well. Mr Morkel raised a concern that notices of meetings did not reach members timeously adding that the use of SMSs by some committee secretaries was quite helpful.

Ms Seaton indicated that an updated parliamentary programme was not always available on the website and requested that this matter receive urgent attention.

Ms Dudley enquired whether the change in the number of committee members would have an effect on arrangements for alternate members. Mr Nel explained that the Rules did not allow for a general alternate member. A specific person should be an alternate for a specific person on a committee. Mr Madikiza said that with regard to the smaller parties, a member’s alternate might be from a different party.

The Acting Speaker said that Mr Doidge would work on all the proposals regarding accessibility of information and report back to the committee.

Mr Hahndiek informed the meeting that there was currently a process underway to upgrade Parliament’s website.

Mr Mansura mentioned that the composition of the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Defence was determined in terms of an act of Parliament and members would be informed of any membership changes where applicable.

Agreed:

Composition of committees

  • The number of members on portfolio committees to be reduced from 17 to 13 as follows: ANC 8, DA 2, IFP 1 and smaller parties 2.
  • In regard to other committees other than portfolio committees, composition to be decided on merit.
  • Smaller parties to meet and report back to the NA Rules Committee with motivation if there is a need/request to increase the membership of certain committees, in which case previous attendance records should also be provided.

Committee documentation

  • All information on committees (committee documents) to be electronically available (on website).
  • House Chairperson Mr Doidge to look into proposals in this regard and report to the Speaker on how best this can be implemented.
  • An updated parliamentary programme also to be available on website.
      1. Allocation of Whips

Mr Nel pointed out that a document developed by the NA Table on the allocation of whips had been distributed. In terms of the document it was proposed that, based on the agreed formula, the ANC gain two whips, the DA loose a whip, the ACDP loose its whip and smaller parties would be entitled to 3 whips. He proposed that this proposal be adopted.

He further said that the Chief Whips’ Forum felt that the general allocation of whips should be looked at further, especially to assist the smaller parties. The proposed process would be looking at an upward adjustment in the number of whips, which would also assist the majority party.

 

The Acting Speaker requested that the matter of reviewing the agreed formula be addressed separately.

Ms Dudley said that 3 whips for parties with different views would put the parties involved in a very difficult position. She proposed that each party should have its own whip.

The Acting Speaker acknowledged that the current situation of 3 whips for a number of parties could be problematic and she welcomed the fact that the Chief Whips’ Forum was looking into the matter.

Agreed:

  • Total number of whips to be 47 with ANC – 34, DA – 5, IFP – 3, UDM – 1, ID – 1, Smaller parties – 3.
  • Current formula for the allocation of whips to be reviewed by the Chief Whips’ Forum (CWF), taking into account concerns raised by parties in this regard, and report back to the Rules Committee.
      1. Sequence of parties for members’ statements

Mr Nel indicated that Mr Frolick who was supposed to lead duscussion on the above matter had to leave urgently due to family illness.

Ms Ngaleka tabled a proposal of the Task Team of the Chief Whips’ Forum on Statements as follows: Members’ statements be increased from 14 to 15 statements giving the ANC - 6 opportunities, the DA - 3, the IFP - 2 and the smaller parties 4. The maximum number of Ministerial responses to be increased from 5 to 6. This arrangement to be applied for a trial period until the end of the year, whereafter a final decision could be taken.

Mr Hahndiek informed the meeting that a rule suspension for the trial period would be necessary.

In response to a question from Mr Ellis regarding unused slots, Ms Ngaleka said that the allocation of slots was proportional. This in effect meant that the ANC gave its slots to the smaller parties and, if not used, the slots would revert back to the ANC.

Mr Ellis wanted to know if the DA could get another opportunity if there was an unused slot.

Mr Nel explained that if a party did not use a slot, the Presiding Officers would start at the beginning of the sequence, which meant that if the ANC did not use its slot the DA would have the next opportunity.

The Acting Speaker confirmed that if a slot was not used the Presiding Officers would start at the beginning of the sequence until 15 opportunities were utilised, in line with the current practice.

Mr Morkel wanted to know how the rotation of the smaller parties for members’ statements had been determined. He also expressed reservations about the manner in which the seating arrangements for smaller parties after floor-crossing had been determined.

Dr Mulder indicated that the groups and sequence for statements had been worked out by agreement amongst the smaller parties themselves.

Mr Mansura mentioned that it was the responsibility of the whips for the smaller parties to provide the sequence. He further indicated that the sequence for questions was usually the same as that of members’ statements. However in terms of the Rules, the Chief Whips’ Forum must determine the sequence for questions.

Agreed:

  • Based on Chief Whips’ Forum’s task team proposal, the number of statements to be increased from 14 to 15 and ministerial responses from 5 to 6. As a consequence, 2 additional minutes to be added to ministerial responses.
  • A trial period to be allowed for the new arrangement, the new order to be as follows: ANC – 6, DA – 3, IFP – 2 and Smaller Parties 4.
  • Rotation of smaller parties to be decided by the smaller parties.
  • If a party did not use its slot, the Presiding Officer to start at the beginning of the sequence until 15 opportunities were utilised (as is the current practice).
  • Sequence of questions to be determined by the Chief Whips’ Forum.

 

  1. Legacy issues
      1. Application of Rule 66
      2. Mr Sibanyoni reported that the Constitution provided for the independence of Chapter 9 institutions and their integrity therefore had to protected. Rule 66 effectively provided that if there was a need for an investigation into one of these institutions there must be a substantive motion before the House for consideration. If the Public Protector felt that someone undermined his/her authority, that person could be charged with contempt.

        Adv Masutha added that specific Acts of Parliament also protected these institutions. More attention should be given to utterances by MPs and consideration given to whether the provisions of Rule 66 were adequate. He was of the opinion that the following matters should be looked at: when a withdrawal was required, when a withdrawal would not be sufficient, when a statement could be categorised as crimen injuria and also how far freedom of speech should be allowed.

        Mr Doidge commended the Chief Whips’ Forum for the work done thus far and indicated that, as this was work in progress, the Rules Committee was looking forward to a further report.

      3. Monitoring of replies to questions
      4. The Acting Speaker informed the meeting that the Speaker had undertaken to engage with the LOGB on this matter.

      5. Failure of state departments to submit annual reports in compliance with the PFMA
      6. The Acting Speaker informed the meeting that the Speaker had undertaken to engage with the LOGB on this matter.

      7. Recognition and role of the leader of the opposition

Mr Doidge said that the decision of the last meeting was that the NA Table should compile a document on this topic. The purpose for putting the item on the agenda was therefore only to receive a progress report.

Mr Nel asked that the NA Table be allowed to complete its research on the matter and the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules should finalise its review of the contradictions between the Constitution and the NA Rules with regard to the title of the leader of the opposition.

 

Ms Seaton suggested that the matter of the appropriateness of the title of "leader of the opposition" be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee. Mr Nefolovhodwe agreed and requested that the matter be resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Agreed:

  • Appropriateness of the title "leader of opposition" to be referred to the Constitutional Review Committee for consideration.
  1. Request by Mr Jayendra Naidoo to have response to a remark by a member recorded.

Mr Hahndiek indicated that a request had been received from Mr Naidoo through his lawyers to have his response to a remark made in the House by Ms de Lille recorded and a document in this regard had been distributed. In the absence of a Standing Committee which should be established in terms of the "Powers and Privileges Act", two options were proposed in the document namely that a Task Team be established which could be mandated to assess the matter and advise the Speaker accordingly or to mandate the Speaker to establish the Task Team herself with the same mandate.

Agreed:

  • Speaker to establish a Task Team to assess the matter and advise her accordingly.
  1. Report by Speaker on referral to Subcommittee on Review of Rules of the following:
      1. Governance model and revised role of Rules Committee
      2. Proposed rule changes: House Chairpersons

Mr Hahndiek reported that the Joint Rules Committee had adopted the new Governance model in 2004. The Speaker and Chairperson of the NCOP have agreed that both Houses should now adopt the new Governance model. He further advised that the adjustment of the Rules in this regard be referred to the Subcommittee on the Review of Rules.

He indicated that the Speaker had already referred the proposed Rule amendments on House Chairpersons to the subcommittee.

Adv Masutha reported that the Rule amendments on the House Chairpersons had been drafted and would be adopted at the next meeting of the Subcommittee.

 

  1. Parliamentary Villages

Mr Nel indicated that the issue of the need to provide accommodation for party support staff in the parliamentary villages had been raised in the Chief Whips’ Forum and no objections were raised. He further said that it would be very important that clear guidelines were put in place, as the current legislation did not allow for this provision. He requested that this matter be placed on the agenda of the next Presiding Officers’ meeting, for them to consider an intervention with the Minister of Public Works. He said that there were currently empty flats available in the villages and an interim arrangement would be welcomed.

Mr Ellis, supported by Ms Seaton, expressed a concern about the possibility of agreeing on short-term arrangements before proper guidelines were formulated. Ms Seaton further said that MPs should always get first preference, as they were already struggling to move into better properties.

Mr Nel requested that a process led by the Presiding Officers be put in motion to speed up the processing of the guidelines and the review of applicable legislation.

The Acting Speaker indicated that this was a matter for the Parliamentary Oversight Authority (POA) to consider. She requested Mr Nel to prepare a document for submission to the POA.

Adjourned at 11:05.

_____________________________ ____________________

Chairperson Date

rc/min/51014tb

 

 

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