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SUBCOMMITTEE OF RULES JOINT COMMITTEE
9 March 1998
REVIEW OF JOINT RULES
Present: Johnny de Lange (NA Co-Chair, ANC), Bulelani Nguka (NCOP Co-Chair, ANC), 5 members of parliament (of which at least one from the NCOP) and 7 clerks and advisors.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss the document 'Proposed Amendments to the Joint Rules of Parliament', Draft 1, 3 March 1998 (Working Document for Purposes of the Joint Rules Subcommittee).
The NCOP co-chair, Mr Nguka, announced that according to Madame Speaker (NA) the current meeting should not be taking place. Apparently, the NCOP co-chair received a letter from the Speaker of the NA (it was not clear whether the same letter was sent to the NA co-chair as well although Mr De Lange obviously had not seen it). In her letter Madame Speaker stated that the Joint Subcommittee on Review of Rules had failed to seek her permission to hold that day's meeting and therefore the meeting should not take place. The NA Speaker's permission was needed for today's meeting because it coincided with a session of the House.
Mr De Lange reacted to this news by saying that he called this meeting with the approval of the Chief Whip. He then went out to talk to the Chief Whip. After his return Mr De Lange and his co-chair briefly spoke to each other. Subsequently, the NCOP co-chair told the meeting that there was no problem on the NCOP side: it was an NCOP day for committee meetings and proper notice of this meeting had been given. Therefore, he felt it was up to the NA members of the Joint Subcommittee to decide what to do.
During the discussion that followed, it became clear that on the NA side there was confusion as to who would have the authority to give permission for such a meeting to be held: the Speaker or the Chief Whip. The roles of the Programme Committee and the Chairperson of Committees seemed to be equally unclear. Mr De Lange said that while drafting the new NA Rules his Subcommittee on Rules (NA) was aware of the problem, but could not decide the issue because it had to be worked out on a political level which had not happened yet.
The Joint Subcommittee subsequently agreed that it was not up to the committee to settle the issue and that, having received a letter from Madame Speaker, the committee should not reject her authority. Thus the meeting was postponed. This decision, however, was taken reluctantly. A NCOP member noted that it seemed rather unfair to the NCOP members of the committee to be caught in internal NA disputes: why not simply let the Chief Whip decide? Finally, the Joint Subcommittee agreed that it preferred its meetings to be properly convened, that it would try to hold such a properly convened meeting on Thursday 12 March and that the matter would have to be discussed by the Programme Committee, meeting on Thursday morning.
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