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LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
02 May 2006
COMMITTEE REPORT ON DEPARTMENT BUDGET AND STRATEGIC PLAN: ADOPTION
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
LABOUR PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Strategic Plan Report
Budget Vote Report
The Committee intended considering its reports on the 2006/07 Strategic Plan and Budget Vote of the Department of Labour. However, consideration of the reports was postponed to 4 May to allow Members to study the documents in question. The Committee then turned to internal administrative issues. The Chairperson commented that Members’ attendance at meetings and public hearings had to be improved. Discussions were held on planned hearings on youth unemployment to be held in June. Advertisements would be placed in relevant media to ensure adequate exposure to interested parties. Radio broadcasts would be arranged to widen coverage. A request for additional funding would be made to facilitate increased attendance by Members at the International Labour Organisation Conference.
The Chairperson noted the poor attendance of Members at the meeting and indicated that the issue would be addressed urgently. Recent budget hearings had also been poorly attended. Discussions would be held with the various Chief Whips to improve attendance at future public hearings. She asked whether Members had read the two Committee reports in question. Consideration of the reports could be postponed to Thursday, 4 May, to allow for in-depth scrutiny of the documents by Members.
Prince N Zulu (IFP) stated that more time was required to study the reports and consideration on 4 May would be more convenient.
The Chairperson concurred that consideration would take place on Thursday and Members were asked to study the documents in advance. Public hearings on youth unemployment had been arranged for 7 June 2006. Advertisements had been arranged and would cost approximately R58 000. Approval for the projected expenditure had to be secured from the relevant Parliamentary officials.
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) referred to the list of newspapers to be utilised to publicise the hearings and asked whether other suitable papers such as the Sowetan should also be included in the campaign.
The Chairperson added that the Sowetan would be incorporated into the pool of newspapers. The Parliamentary Public Education Unit would also be involved in communicating the event to interested parties. Department of Labour representatives would also attend the hearings. The National Youth Commission and the South African Youth Council would also be included. The provision of transport for interested parties could not be arranged due to budget constraints. Oral and written submissions would be accepted. The closing date for submissions would be identified shortly. A preparatory meeting for the proposed public hearings would be held on 23 May 2006.
Prince Zulu noted the predominance of English and Afrikaans newspapers in the advertising campaign and suggested that this method would bypass the majority of the unemployed.
The Chairperson added that radio broadcasts would also be arranged by the Parliamentary Communication Unit to widen the coverage. The youth, as the prime target of the hearings, had to be informed as a priority.
Mr J Mzondeki (ANC) highlighted the distinction between presentations conducted by relevant groups and submissions by members of the public. A strategic media campaign was required to meet these two objectives.
Ms S Rajbally (MF) asserted that the Committee needed an increased budget to adequately conduct oversight and undertake tasks at hand.
Ms L Moss (ANC) supported the initiative to publicise the growing problem of youth unemployment and the urgent need for skills development. All communities had to be informed of the proposed hearings.
Mr Mzondeki stated that the Committee had to ensure that successful youth projects were included in the hearings. He proposed that advertisements for the hearings be placed in all constituency offices where officials could assist with preparation of presentations and submissions.
Mr W Spies (FFP) advocated more general media coverage as opposed to costly advertisements in certain newspapers as a sound mechanism to obtain valuable exposure prior to a public hearing. He proposed that a news conference be arranged just prior to the hearing date to generate coverage. Such an event could be conducted without cost.
The Chair proposed that a public statement be released shortly before the scheduled event to achieve publicity. The Parliamentary Public Education Unit could give advice in this regard.
Mr Mshudulu highlighted the importance of the planning meeting on 23 May to identify obstacles and address shortcomings. The challenge of public hearings was to transfer resolutions into practical strategies and implementation plans. The Committee was obliged to advertise in accordance with legal requirements.
The Chairperson agreed that implementation was a crucial component of the public hearing exercise.
Mr Mzondeki emphasised the importance of Committee visits to Western Cape farms and asked when such visits would take place.
The Chairperson confirmed that a visit to farms would occur in the near future. She asked whether Members agreed with the Committee programme. Budget constraints hindered the attendance by Members of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conference to be held in Geneva. However, attempts should be made to acquire additional funds to enable more Members to attend the conference. Resources were needed for a planned trip to Cuba in September.
Mr L Maduna (ANC) declared that Parliament should recognise the importance of the ILO Conference and allow for more Members to attend. The matter had been raised previously in budget reports and debates. Legislation had to be informed by international best practice and standards. He recommended that the Chairperson discuss the issue with other Chairpersons to devise an appropriate response to the challenge.
The Chairperson noted that Members only had observer status at the Conference but could participate within the African group meetings to influence policy. Meetings would be held with the Speaker and other parliamentary officials to discuss additional money to fund attendance by Members at the Conference.
Mr Maduna recommended that resources be saved for the envisaged trip to Cuba as a number of Members had to be included.
Mr Spies suggested that the Committee should adopt a long-term view of the ILO Conference and expose as many Members as possible over a three-year period.
The Chairperson informed Members of a workshop on 23 May focused on business plans to ensure correlation with budgets. Members were advised to attend.
The meeting was adjourned.
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