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SELECT COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND JUSTICE
23 FEBRUARY 1998
REPORT BACK FROM PROVINCES AND DRAFT PROGRAMME FOR 1998
Document handed out:
Assessment & objectives of the committee: draft report by Security and Justice Select Committee (see appendix)
The Chairperson, Mr M Moosa, informed the committee members that 20 pieces of s 75 Bills would have to pass through their committee. He asked the members to prioritise the forthcoming legislation by consulting with the provinces. He informed the committee that the Gauteng Province was interested in the National Prosecuting Authority Bill and the Debt Collectors Bill.
Mr Surty (ANC) requested summaries of the forthcoming bills for the provinces. He suggested the committee researchers draw up the summaries and distribute them to the various interested parties, for example the provincial whips. The Chairperson emphasised that such a document would not be an official one, merely to familiarise members with what was new. Mr Radue (NP) suggested that the summaries be used for the committee only and not be sent to the provinces. The Chairperson informed the researchers that they should add a standard note on the documents, saying that it was not for distribution to the provinces.
Mr Surty suggested to the committee that the Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee, Advocate De Lange, draw up a document in which the proposed amendments of the political parties were highlighted as well as a summary of Committee's proposed amendments. This document would prepare the NCOP even further on all the issues that arose out of the Portfolio Committee.
The Chairperson felt that the departments linked to that committee should draw up the summary, instead of the Portfolio Committee's chairperson, as he was very busy. He said the departments should supply a summary of the stakeholders' views, not those of the political parties, as these would be revealed in the NCOP meetings. Mr Surty agreed with the Chairperson's suggestion. Mr Selfe (DP) added that the Department of Defence should also provide the committee with summaries of the relevant bills.
The Chairperson then focussed on the Select Committee on Security and Justice report, which the committee had formulated at the last meeting. Referring to question 2 (b), regarding the limited powers of the NCOP with Section 75 Bills, Mr Selfe felt that examples of the extensive changes of bills should be mentioned in the report.
With regard to the committee's objectives for 1998, the committee had to address issues related to the criminal justice system. Mr Surty informed the committee that in the North West Province, a two-day hearing would be held on this issue. The hearing would arise from a questionnaire that would be formulated. Concerning the content of the questionnaire, Mr Grové (NP) said that members had to spend time liaising with provinces to focus on the pertinent issues. The Chairperson suggested that Mr Surty and Mr Grové draft the questionnaire and put it before the committee for a critique at their next meeting. Instead of two people drafting the questionnaire, Mr Surty felt that the areas concerned should be divided up, so that specialists in the committee could formulate the questions relating to his/ her field. The members agreed to that suggestion and they were divided into Welfare, Justice, Correctional Services and Safety and Security by the Chairperson.
The Chairperson informed the committee that the Hoexter Commission Report (question 7.4) could be dealt with in the Justice section of the questionnaire. Mr Grové initiated the discussion around the lobbying that was taking place for a seat in the High Court. He felt the community should be involved in the process. Mr Surty informed the committee that all the stakeholders would be participating in a public hearing in the North-West Province and the questions concerned would be incorporated. Ms Tyobeka-Lieta (ANC) said that the issue was contentious in the Eastern Cape and the matter was left at the Premier's Office. At this point, the Chairperson commented that problems arose out of the provinces because of the ad hoc approach to the Hoexter Commission. There was a need for a set criterion; otherwise the issue would not be resolved. Mr Radue informed the committee that the Eastern Cape stakeholders appeared before the National Assembly as well.
The deadline for the draft questionnaire was set for Tuesday, 3 March, and it would then be discussed in the next meeting.
Prescribed questions that have been submitted to all NCOP committees for consideration followed by the Select Committee on Security and Justice draft response:
NCOP COMMITTEE PLANNING SESSION
1. What does your committee feel the NCOP has achieved in the past year and how has your committee contributed towards this achievement? Please find attached list of legislation passed by Parliament in 1997.(Note: please provide more detail and not simply a list of the bills that your committee dealt with.)
2. What have been the obstacles your committee has experienced ? What steps could be taken to address these obstacles?
3. What are your committee's objectives for 1998 and how do these relate to the long-term objectives of Parliament and the platform upon which you were elected in 1994?
4. What are your priorities ? Please find attached the list of legislation to be tabled in 1998 in Parliament ? Choose your committee's legislative priorities from this list ? Explain also how these priorities would advance the objectives referred to in 3. Be specific please.
5. Would your committee be in favour of organising briefings for your committee on legislation immediately when it is tabled in the NA, so that when it is referred to the NCOP. NCOP Committees are immediately able to engage in debate ? (This would mean NCOP Committees would need to be kept updated on developments in NA Committees)
7. Besides considering legislation, what issues of relevance to provinces would your committee like to see the NCOP debate in 1998 and how would these issues advance the objectives referred to in 3 ? Be specific please.
8. Utilising the attached schedule for the NCOP, please draft a broad work program for your committee for the first and second terms of 1998 ? Please note that this schedule provides for four cycles in the first two terms -1st cycle (9/2-5/3) 2nd cycle (9/3-2/4) 3rd cycle (20/4 14/5) and 4th cycle (18/5 to 11/6)?
9. Please indicate in this work program what visits to provinces would take place and what your committee proposes to do during these visits.
10. Would your committee be in favour of devoting the last seek of NCOP Committees in the 4th cycle (25/5-29/5 or l/6 -3/6) to a mid-year evaluation of the functioning of NCOP Committees and further planning for the second half of 1998?
11. Based on your priorities and proposed program, what are the specific areas in which your committee would require research back-up?
12. What kind of administrative assistance would assist the functioning of your committee?
1997 OVERVIEW AND 1998 YEAR PLAN AND PROGRAMME (FIRST DRAFT)
In response to the questions raised by the NCOP Management, the Committee responds as follows:
In broad view the committee did fairly well last year on some complicated pieces of legislation.
List of legislation is as follows:
· Defence A/B [B14B-97]
· Prescribed Rate of Interest A/B [B8B-96]
· Promotion of national Unity and Reconciliation A/B [B37b-97]
· Abolition of Corporal Punishment Bill [B20B-97]
· South African Police Service A/B [B41-97]
· Marriage Act, Extension Bill [B38-97]
· State of Emergency Bill [B52D-97]
· Divorce Courts A/B [B24D-97]
· Contingency Fees Bill [B33D -97]
· Criminal Procedure A/B [B81B-97]
· Judges' Remuneration and Conditions of Employment A/B [B70-97]
· Qualification of Legal Practitioners A/B [883B-97]
· Constitutional Court Complementary Act A/B [B87B-97)
· Magistrates' Courts Second A/B [B77B-97]
· Magistrates' Courts A/B [B43B-97J
· Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Second A/B [B109-97]
· Criminal Procedure Second A/B [B84B-97]
· Natural Fathers of Children Born out of Wedlock Bill [B68B-97]
· Parole and Correctional Supervision A/B [B57B-97)
· Correctional Services A/B [B99D-97]
· Security Officers A/B [B25B-96]
· Criminal Law A/B [B46D-97]
The Committee consistently adopted the approach the National Assembly was primarily responsible for with oversight on all of the above legislation and it is unnecessary for the National Council of Provinces to duplicate this.
The NCOP Committee on Security and Justice therefore saw as its specific task to look at legislation from a provincial perspective. In order to do this, regular consultation was embarked upon with the Committees and the MECs of Safety and Security in the Provinces. In respect of amendments of a Section 75 nature the Committee engaged with their counterparts of the NA and successfully passed a number of S75 amendments as well
As with other structures of the NCOP, the Committee on Security and Justice has squarely located its key role in representing the Provincial interests in the National Parliament. As a further primary object the Committee has from time to time successfully fed its Provincial counterparts with developments and key discussion taking place at national level
A number of pieces of legislation passed in the Committee were amended and as appears
from the long list it will be a laborious task to explain the effect of all these amendments.
What is of importance is that the Committee endeavored to synchronize the views of the
Provincial Legislatures, in the NA, the NCOP and the Ministries in respect of the
Safety and Security
Correctional Services; and to some extent
The Committee has experienced a number of obstacles during the 1997 the year.
With the large volume of work that this Committee processes (probably the busiest committee in Parliament), the allocated time for meetings of this Committee during briefings' week and mandates' week has proved to be insufficient. As a result the Committee consistently overlapped into the time of other Committees and we have held meetings during time slots that were not our own resulting in a failure of members to attend regularly due to other commitments. We believe that the time slot allocations and programming for Committees of the NCOP should be based on an assessment of the volumes of work that they process instead of an "equal time for each committee" approach which has been adopted up to now.
(b) The Constitutional power of Provinces vs. practical realities:
This Committee deals largely with matters of a S75 nature. However in the area of Justice and Safety and Security, we have found that the practical reality is different. Although national government is strong on these two areas, Provincial governments have a lot to say on these matters and are on a day-to-day basis confronted with real issues in respect of these two areas.
The Committee has therefore found the need to improvise in dealing with these portfolios. We have had to consult with the provinces and take mandates as we do for S76 legislation even though we eventually vote formally in a 575 manner in plenary.
This did not necessarily prove to be an obstacle but we have found a reluctance at NA and Ministerial level to taking on board sometimes strong views from the provinces on S75 legislation.
(c) Budgetary constraints.
We are of the view that the committee budget is far too small for the large volume of work it does. We have the responsibility of coordinating 9 province's and we fax, post and travel to these provinces on a regular basis. This year we are planning to engage with provinces heavily on matters in respect of the white paper on Safety and Security and on provincial coordination between actors in the Criminal Justice System on the ground. The Committee will require at least a 35% increase on its '97 budget although we have been told that in fact budgets will be reduced.
(d) Administration and Research backup:
Needless to say that as with other committees of NCOP, much needs to be done to assist Committees and Committee chairpersons in this area.
A single Committee Clerk is not sufficient in order to full the responsibility of
· keeping Committee members notified
· keeping 9 provinces notified
· minute taking at Committee meetings and hearings.
· communicating with a large number of stakeholders interested in the committee's work
· communicating with 5 portfolio committee clerks in the NA on a daily basis
· Producing and reproducing stakeholders documents, briefing documents, department documents and so forth
· distributing the above documentation efficiently and on time to committee members and the 9 provinces
· organising committee meetings, hearings and field trips into the provinces
At least two, even 3 committee clerks are required to efficiently fufjil the work of committees such as ours.
Although political parties have research components of their own, these components are largely to empower parliamentary members. The committee itself does not have research capacity to keep the committee as a whole abreast of international and national developments in the areas of work the committee involves itself in. Of particular importance is regularly drawing the attention of press and radio representatives to the business of the committee, media liaison, communicating with the communities and conducting information campaigns informing the people of our country of the kind of work that the Committee on Security and Justice does. Each committee requires at least one researcher, and /or media liaison person to assist the committee in this area.
The committee's objectives for 1998 are the following
· Operating the committee more tightly and developing an organizationaly sound mechanism to fulfill its tasks
· Making the maximum impact on the criminal justice system to deal with the priority issue of crime
· Engaging the provinces and providing a conduit between the provinces and the national government in respect of the white paper on safety and security
· Identifying those issues in the Departments of Defence and Correctional Services which specifically have impact on provinces and relate to provincial interest, conveying provincial views on those matters.
· Maximising the participation of provinces in the NCOP on Security and Justice matters
From among these objectives we only wish to emphasise that for maximum impact on the Criminal Justice system, our objective is to visit all of the 9 provinces during 1998. During these visits we will establish the extent to which the Departments of Safety and Security, Justice and Correctional Services are coordinating their activities; the extent to which legislative committees of the provinces are exercising their oversight in these areas; identifying what training programs are in place for policepersons and prosecutors; assess how successful community policing and court forums have been; encouraging the communities to engage in the campaign against crime; meetings with NGOs; civic organizations and similar structures; and broadening the base of information from the government to the people.
We will also engage Premiers and Provincial Executives to make this a priority issue. Our committee has decided to develop a questionnaire to assist us in identifying the difficulties that the provincial government and communities face in this area and to try to identity ways of dealing with corruption, discipline and accountability of police and court officials.
We have already detailed above a number of priorities that our committee will embark in1998.
We need to reiterate, and our constant focus will be, on issues that affect provinces and to take these issues further.
The Portfolio Committees of the NA have regular briefings on a wide range of matters. Naturally all of those briefings are of interest to our committee. Due to the 4 week legislature cycle in the NCOP, we are not able to attend all of those briefings. We have therefore decided that our committee members be supplied with all documentation in respect of all the briefings in the NA so that we can sift out those which are of priority to the NCOP.
We do however believe that there are certain briefings that are of such importance that they need to take place jointly between the two committees of the two houses. In respect of those briefings, adequate prior arrangements need to be made so that they fit into the NCOP briefing week of our cycle. Such briefings also have to be well planned, short, concise and to the point due to the limited time that the NCOP Committees have to deal with issues.
We are therefore not in a position to deal with briefings that go on for days and in some instances weeks on end. When briefings of this nature are planned we participate inconsistently and are often absent for legitimate reasons.
This results in disempowerment of our committee members and failure of our committee to meet NCOP objectives. We recommend that extensive discussion must take place between management of two the houses to bear upon National Assembly committees to take note of our special circumstances.
Some thoughts need to also be given to joint structures that we participate in ,e.g. Joint Standing Committee on Defence. The departments and these committees do not take account of the absence of NCOP members during provincial week and the special times that our committees meet and on when our plenaries sit. We therefore need to engage management in the NA and the Rules Committees on the question of Joint Committees and the regularity with which they meet. We need to also directly become involved in the programming of joint committees.
It is our view that separate committees of the NCOP and NA come together from time to time in well planned meetings in order to deal with joint matters and that where extensive work needs to be done in joint meetings, the joint committees should meet in conference over set time periods instead of loose and erratic meetings over long periods of time. This will no doubt assist us to fulfill our constitutional duties effectively at the level of joint structures.
Our committee has identified a number of issues that the NCOP must debate in
the committee is of the view that a joint single budget vote debate must take place in respect of Justice, Safety and Security and Correctional Services and all three of the Ministries be present in the chamber on the same day to deliver keynote speeches. Delegates must then be given the opportunity to Debate all three portfolios at the same time. This is crucial to address the problem facing coordination in the criminal justice system. We think that in such a debate all 9 MECs for Safety and Security and all the Provincial Chairpersons of these portfolios must be present and participate in the debate after they have embarked upon processes in the province to identify key issues in each of the provinces. The debate must be highly publicized and media attention must focus on the NCOP. We also believe it is necessary to organize live TV coverage of the debate in order to publicize information to our communities and stakeholders effectively
we would like to embark upon a debate in respect of the White Paper on Safety and Security which would be completed later this year and engage problems particularly involving Chapter 11 of the Constitution during this debate.
we would like a special debate on organized crime to take place during March or April in which we wish to highlight our experiences in France and Italy last year, our recommendations in respect of gang violence in the Western Cape and specific recommendations in respect of corruption, money crimes and syndicate crimes.
we may have to engage in debate on the Hoexter Commission Report in respect of the location of the High Courts in each of the provinces.
We are not in a position to supply a draft broad work program for the Committee due to the lack of time. We also need to consult with provinces regarding their programs in order to synchronize our program and will supply such a program in due course.
See Para 8
Our committee is of the view that evaluation is important and an ongoing process. We have been unable to commit ourselves to a mid-year evaluation but have agreed that we will continue to discuss this matter and finalize it in the near future
We have raised our concerns in this respect in our discussion in Para 2.
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