Draft Minutes of Proceedings

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Meeting report

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE

DRAFT MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS

26 May 2005 at 15:00

Note: These minutes were provided by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Present:

Mbete B (Speaker)

Mahlangu-Nkabinde G L (Deputy Speaker)

Botha C-S (House Chairperson)

Ellis M J Nel A C

Gibson D H M Nefolovhodwe P J

Green L Newhoudt-Druchen W S

Landers L T Njikelana S J

Kalyan S Seaton S A

Madikiza G T September C C

Mfundisi I S Rajbally S

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

  1. Apologies (Agenda Item 1)
  2. Apologies were received from the following members:

    Bapela K O, Doidge G Q M, Mulder C P, Sithole D J, Thabethe E and Tsenoli S L.

  3. Adoption of agenda (Agenda Item 2)
  4. This item was not considered by the Committee.

  5. Establishment of Oversight Mechanism for the Office of the Auditor-General (Agenda Item 3)

The Speaker explained that the Public Audit Act had come into operation in December 2004. This Act replaced the Public Arrangements Act which had created the Audit Commission as the body exercising oversight over the Office of the Auditor-General. The Public Audit Act effectively abolished the Audit Commission and, in turn, provided for the establishment of an oversight mechanism. In order to fill the vacuum created by the abolition of the Audit Commission, the National Assembly had as a temporary arrangement established an ad hoc Committee on the Auditor-General.

Mr Hahndiek indicated that the Public Audit Act identified in general terms what the oversight mechanism should do, namely, to assist and protect the Auditor-General in order to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of that Office, and to advise the National Assembly. The Act also specified a number of particular functions which the oversight mechanism should perform.

The Speaker said that the Rules Committee should therefore guide the House regarding the nature and form of the oversight mechanism. She mentioned that at some of her meetings with the Auditor-General, it had transpired that there had been discussions in the ad hoc committee on Public Auditing Function (the committee that introduced the Public Audit Bill) regarding the nature of the envisaged oversight mechanism. She asked that staff access the documents of that ad hoc committee with a view to obtaining the relevant information.

Mr Gibson said that his understanding was that the proposed mechanism would play a role similar to the one played by the erstwhile Audit Commission. He asked how often the Audit Commission had met and whether the proposed mechanism could be expected to meet as frequently. In response, Mr Hahndiek indicated that the Audit Commission had been an external body and therefore enquiries would be made in that regard.

Mr Nel supported the proposal for the accessing of deliberations of the ad hoc committee on Public Auditing Functioning, specifically those that concerned the nature and function of the proposed mechanism. He added that it was also necessary to learn from different individuals and structures who had been involved in the process leading up to the promulgation of the Public Audit Act. He proposed that the current ad hoc committee on the Auditor-General be asked to prepare a brief report (2 to 3 pages) on its experience in carrying out its functions. This would be helpful in deciding on the nature of the envisaged oversight mechanism. The Speaker, while agreeing with Mr Nel’s suggestions, stressed the need for a speedy conclusion of this matter as the Auditor-General was justifiably anxious to have the matter finalised.

The Speaker indicated that the Rules Committee should meet again on this matter before the next recess. Mr Hahndiek pointed out that the next meeting of the Rules Committee had provisionally been scheduled for 8 June. The Speaker asked that relevant documentation in preparation for that meeting should be made available to members by Friday, 3 June.

Agreed:

    • Enquiries to be made regarding the functioning and frequency of meetings of the Audit Commission.
    • Ad Hoc Committee on the Auditor-General to be requested to prepare a brief report on its experience in dealing with the matter of oversight over the Office of the Auditor-General.
    • Records of the ad hoc committee that introduced the Audit Bill be accessed relating to deliberations about the envisaged nature of the oversight mechanism.
    • The matter of the oversight mechanism to be put on the agenda of the next Rules Committee meeting provisionally scheduled for 8 June 2005.
    • Supporting documentation to be made available to members by 3 June 2005.

The meeting adjourned at 15:20.

 

 

Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

MEETING OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY RULES COMMITTEE

Chairperson: Speaker of the National Assembly

Secretary : Masibulele Xaso (NA Table) Ext. 3260 [mxaso@parliament.gov.za]

National Assembly Table Division

 

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