Committee Annual Report: adoption

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


11 November 2005

Chairperson: Dr E Schoeman (ANC)

Documents handed out:

Draft Committee Annual Report [available shortly]


The Committee adopted its Annual Report for 2005, after effecting a few technical amendments. It was noted that the Report did not include a reflection of the Committee’s financial statements, but the Committee would report on those at a later stage. The Committee’s programme for 2006 would not be fully completed by the 23 November 2005 deadline, which meant that certain assumptions would have to be made about the Committee’s activities for 2006. The NCOP felt that both Houses should sign off on the Report in order to correct any misperception in the public’s mind that the Committee represented only the National Assembly.

Committee Annual Report 2005
Ms M Njobe (ANC) [NA] contended that the gross under-expenditure in the Committee’s budget was partly due to the fact that the Committee had only been constituted in June 2005, which was very late. The Committee did not have sufficient time to plan a programme that was tailored to its budget.

Dr J Delport (ANC) [NA] proposed that the Report indicate that the financial statements of the Committee would be reported on at a later stage, due to the fact that the costs of advertisements must still be ascertained and reflected. Furthermore, he was of the view that the Committee must be more proactive and invite people to address it on certain important submissions, as the role of the Committee was to promote constitutionalism.

Adv M Masutha (ANC) [NA] agreed with Dr Delport. He noted that a large percentage of the Committee’s expenditure was due to travel costs, yet he was not aware of any traveling done by Members of the Committee. He commented that it would have been useful if the Committee’s budget included notes that explained the expenditure.

Ms Z Mnene, Parliament's Committee Section Manager, responded that the funds did not reflect expenditure but instead reflected funds that were allocated to staff when the Committee embarked on oversight trips etc. Those funds were however transferred to a central budget of the Committee section. She stated that the notes could be made available to Members, which would include the expenditure for the advert.

The Chair informed Members that the Committee had decided to postpone the brainstorming session on the Committee’s mandate to January 2006, due to logistical difficulties. The decision was welcomed because it would allow the Committee to decide who it would invite to address it. He proposed Dr Leon Wessels of the South African Human Rights Commission, because he had very interesting ideas on how the Committee could improve its relevance.

Mr F Beukman (ANC) [NA] requested that the Committee secretariat provide Members with the record of the previous meeting, so that they did not raise issues that the Committee had already discussed at length.

The Chair asked whether the Committee was able to adopt its Annual Report if it did not contain the financial statements.

Ms Mnene answered in the affirmative. She stated that a technical change would have to be effected to the Report to explain why the Committee’s Report was being adopted without the budget statements in the Annual Report..

Ms Njobe asked when the Committee’s budget would then be adopted, if not together with its Annual Report.

Ms Mane replied that the Committee would produce a report on its budget by the end of the financial year.

The Chair asked whether a Committee that failed to spend its entire budget within the financial year would be penalised.

Ms Mnene responded that she was not sure, but stated that the Committee’s budget was decided upon by that Committee, the Speaker and the Chairperson of Committees. The funding would also depend on the Committee’s programme for that financial year..

The Chair informed Members that the Committee’s programme for 2006 must be submitted by 23 November 2005, which left him with no alternative but to make certain assumptions about the Committee’s activities for 2006. He would do so in conjunction with the Committee secretary, and requested the approval of Members.

Mr S Shiceka (ANC) [Gauteng] stated that the Chair must do so in conjunction with the Chairperson from the NCOP and must not act unilaterally, because the NCOP attended these meetings with a view to participating actively in them. If that were not done it would create the impression that this Committee represented only one House, which could not be allowed. He requested the Chairpersons to consider the matter thoroughly.

The Chair explained that that was not his intention.

Adv Masutha proposed that the Committee visit one of the jurisdictions from which the Committee borrowed much of its own workings and functions.

The Chair replied that that would be considered at the Committee’s brainstorming session in 2006. He proposed the adoption of the Report.

Mr A Moseki (ANC) [North West] stated that both the signatures of the Chair and the NCOP Chairperson be reflected on the Report, because it was a joint Committee.

Mr Shiceka agreed that the signature of the co-chairperson was needed.

The Chair disagreed and informed the Members that, according to the Joint Rules of Parliament, the Chairperson was from the National Assembly and the Deputy Chairperson was from the NCOP. He encouraged Members to take note of that.

Mr Shiceka disagreed and stated that the spirit of the Committee was that it was a Joint Committee. Thus, if the Report were signed by one Chairperson only, it would create the impression in the eyes of the public that the Committee consisted only of one House. Both signatures must be included for posterity, to make it clear that both Houses were party to the Report. In that context the issue of Chairpersonship raised by the Chair was debatable, and the contention being raised was that all correspondence and documentation of the Committee must be signed by the two co-Chairpersons.

Ms Njobe proposed that, in light of the points raised by Mr Shiceka and Mr Moseki, the heading of the Report should be amended to insert "Joint" before "Constitutional Committee".

Adv Masutha noted that the wording of the Report indicated that the Committee did not undertake oversight visits during 2005, which created the impression that that was one of its mandates which it had failed to discharge properly. The fact of the matter was that it was not within the mandate of the Committee to undertake oversight visits. He proposed that that portion of the Report be amended to read "The Committee does not perform an oversight function".

The Chair noted that the Committee agreed to the proposal.

Adoption of Report
The Chair noted that the Committee adopted the Annual Report, as amended during the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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