Adoption of Programme of Action and Endorsement of PANSALB

Arts and Culture

08 June 2001
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

8 June 2001


Chairperson: Dr M Serote

Documents handed out:

Draft Programme of Action - Working Plan


The Committee had to consider the list of names provided by the Minister, which he had compiled after consulting with Cabinet. Certain members found the process to be flawed as the Act does not state that the executive has a say in who gets nominated to the Pan South African Language Board. Other members argued that this is not a matter of principle and that the Committee should therefore be flexible in the interests of time.

The Chair explained the process used to select the candidates. The Committee had interviewed twenty candidates. At the end of these interviews each member recommended who they felt qualified to be on the Board. However, even after this process had occurred the Committee had still felt that the names selected did not represent a broad enough spectrum of choice i.e. there was insufficient representation of languages and qualifications. However, the Committee reported to the Department saying that they had done the best they could in the limited time given. The Minister then consulted the executive and on how to deal with the gaps. Based on this advice the Minister put forward a further seven names.

The Chair was of the opinion that the involvement of the executive enriched the process as the persons selected were far more representative of the population than those selected by the Committee. He added that representation of languages is vital as it had been a highly politicised issue in the apartheid era since the majority had been marginalized from speaking their own languages.

Input by the Director of National Language Service
The Director, Ms N Mkhulisi stated that the Department had approached the provinces to obtain nominations. The nominees were:
Simon Nyana Leon Mkhatshwa (Mr)
Deborah Maphoko Mampuru (Ms)
Mohlomi Albert, Moleleki (Mr)
Anthony Cedrick, Le Fleur (Mr)
Philemon Buti Skhosana (Mr)
Varijakshi Prabhakaran (Dr, Ms)

Mr M Cassim (IFP) asked if the Department had enquired as to the availability of these candidates.

Ms Mshulisi replied in the affirmative.

Ms T Tshivase (ANC) stated that the Department’s list did not represent the most disadvantaged language groups e.g. Tsonga.

Ms Mshulisi replied that this list merely added to the original list. Together all the language groups, including the Khoi and sign languages had been catered for.

Prof I Mohamed (ANC) asked if these people had been interviewed.

The Chair said that Cabinet had put forward a principle and that the operational part had been left to the Department and the Minister.

Ms A Van Wyk (NNP) said that nowhere in the Act does it state that Cabinet decides on the PANSALB nominees. She agreed that the Minister is allowed to discuss the list with Cabinet but said that the executive could then not make recommendations to Parliament. She argued that the Committee had come up with a good list and had followed the correct process. In addition, the Act does not specify that every language group have to be represented. The Committee has to be careful not to involve itself in unlawful activities since the Committee had not even interviewed the persons put forward by Cabinet.

Ms Tsheole said that nowhere in the Act does it deal with a disagreement between Parliament and Cabinet and the process that should then be followed. She added that although the Act is silent on language representation the fact that the Board should constitute eleven to fifteen persons reflects the Board’s intention that all languages should be represented. She argued that an absence of guidance from the Act on this issue should not preclude the Committee from moving forward as further interviews would have both financial and time implications.

Ms Van Wyk stated that Cabinet has no say in this issue and that the Minister has to act on the say-so of Parliament. The reason is that Portfolio Committees go through an extensive process to ensure that they are well informed to take decisions. Since the Ministers have time constraints they obviously are not as capable. In addition, the Act does not permit the Minister to appoint only seven persons (as the minimum is clearly eleven). She said that since the Committee is transgressing the law, expert advice is needed.

Mr Cassim said that PANSALB can bind the whole government and it is therefore appropriate that the Cabinet be involved. In addition, the Committee (in accordance with the Act) gave its list to the Minister, who applied his mind by consulting Cabinet and then referred his list back to the Committee. The Committee could then either decide to retain its first list or review this list and replace it with that of the Minister.

Ms S Baloyi (ANC) agreed that the Minister was acting within his rights and that this consultation between the Minister and Cabinet happens on many issues. She added that Cabinet does not instruct the Minister but merely gives its views.

Ms Tsheole stated that there were two language bills to be dealt with before the end of this year and reiterated the urgency of finalising this issue as soon as possible.

Mr Opperman (DP) stressed that legal advice is needed.

The Chair agreed that legal advice is needed but added that the Committee could not have expected the Minister not to consult with anyone and make changes to the list they provide him with. If the Minister presents the Committee with a new list the Committee could either deal with it as a crisis or they could be flexible. The Chair suggested that flexibility is vital in this process. In addition, the Minister had approached the executive to assist in closing the gaps in the list provided by the Committee. Thus, he could not see how the Minister had transgressed the law. He stressed that at the end of the interviews the Committee had failed to pool adequate expertise and the new list provided by the Minister had addressed this problem.

The Chair stated that procedure usually depended on principle or tactic. Principle is unbending in terms of law while tactic is based on flexibility. In the past it had become evident that progress only takes place when one is willing to be flexible. He added that the issue at hand was not a matter of principle as the law is silent on how to deal with it. Instead, he urged the Committee to be tactical and creative as, he suggested, the Minister had been. If the Committee had been unhappy with the Minister’s list the Chair would not have accepted this list. The Committee could however accept the list, as this is not a matter of principle.

Mr Opperman why the Minister did not instruct the Committee to fill the gaps. He suggested that the Minister did not trust the Committee’s judgement.

The Chair said that the Committee had been given the opportunity to find the best candidates for the positions, but had failed to do so.

Ms Van Wyk agreed that creativity was essential and added that the legal advice should focus on the roles of the Minister and Committee as well as the involvement of Cabinet. This is important so that the Committee is not challenged by outside bodies at a later stage.

Mr Cassim added that he totally endorses the approach suggested by Ms Van Wyk and the Chair.

Legislative Programme for 2001-06-11
The Chair referred to the Committee’s visit to Robben Island. He stated that Mr V Gore (DP) had been unable to attend, as there were no facilities for the disabled. He said that he had raised this with the Chair of Chairs. This will be dealt with in future.

Mr Gore thanked the Chair for his concern and added that the reason he was in Parliament was to raise awareness about issues affecting the disabled. He then asked if the Committee had made any allocations toward the Foresight project.

The Chair said that this would be considered. The Chair also stated that Prof Mohamed’s report on science and technology would be adopted and that he would get the opportunity to make his presentation to the Committee.

Ms Van Wyk referred to the role of parliament with regard to the Budget. She suggested that this issue should be included in the budget process as it is in line with the Public Finance Management Act and regulates the Committee’s oversight process more effectively.


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