Committee Programme & 2005 Annual Report; SANDF Comores Deployment

Defence

18 May 2006
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Meeting report

Joint Standing Committee on Defence

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE
19 May 2006
COMMITTEE PROGRAMME & ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2005; SANDF COMOROS DEPLOYMENT

Chairperson: Mr SD Montsitsi (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Draft Committee Programme for second quarter of 2006 (May – June)
Annual Report of Joint Standing Committee on Defence (January – December 2005)
Letter by the President dated 17 March 2006 – Comoros Deployment of SANDF

SUMMARY
The need to take a critical look at Denel was highlighted and a meeting with Denel will take place on 31 May 2006. As the Joint Standing Committee on Defence was constituted only in October 2005, its Annual Report for last year was thin. The Committee planned to undertake another oversight visit to the DRC in 2006. There were no objections to the South African National Defence Force deployment to the Union of Comoros as noted in a March 2006 letter from the President to the National Assembly. As there was no quorum, no formal decisions could be taken at the meeting.

MINUTES
Committee Programme
The Chairperson noted the need to finalise the Committee Programme for this session.

Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) pointed out that there was a need to look at Denel more critically. Therefore meetings would have to be arranged with Denel in order to find out what the issues are. He also referred to the October 2005 oversight visit to the DRC when it accompanied the Defence Portfolio Committee. He asked how this Committee was going to deal with its required report on the oversight visit which needed to be finalised.

Mr G Koornhof (ANC) suggested that because Denel fell under the Department of Public Enterprises, it would be advisable to have a joint meeting with the Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence. There was a need for greater co-operation so as to avoid duplication.

The Chair commented that Item 4 of the draft programme dealt with briefings on ARMSCOR and Denel. Issues identified by members could be discussed with Denel. Whether a further meeting with Denel would be necessary, would have to be determined.

The Chairperson noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs had confirmed the date of Friday 9 June for the briefing on MONUC (UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo). He said that the Foreign Affairs Portfolio Committee should come on Board for this meeting. In reply to Mr Shah, the Chairperson confirmed that another trip to the DRC was envisaged. He noted that there had been no report on the first visit to the DRC.

The Chairperson requested that a sub-committee be established to address the details of a Committee business plan and the Committee went ahead and nominated a sub-committee.

Mr Shah suggested that a meeting be held for members of the Defence Joint Standing Committee and the Defence Portfolio Committee in order to determine their roles in terms of oversight and other matters, including expectations.

The Chairperson agreed to this proposal and said that arrangements for a joint workshop for the two committees would be made. Mr Koornhof went on to suggest that a law advisor should be included at the workshop.

The Chair commented that there appeared to be no problem in adopting the draft programme.

Committee Annual Report for 2005
The Chair pointed out that as this Committee had been formed at a very late stage in 2005, the current Annual Report did not contain much. He requested comments on the Report.

Ms M Matsemela (ANC) referred to Point 12 of the Report and indicated that no budget had been allocated to the Committee for 2005. In the light of this, he questioned the viability of a planned trip to the DRC if there was no 2006 budget.

The Chairperson agreed that the Report should state "No budget" rather than " No budget yet". He said that a budget had been allocated for this year and apologised for omitting to circulate it.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) pointed out that the Department of Defence was incorrectly listed as a public entity in Item 3 of the Report. The Chairperson agreed that this would be reworded.

It was noted that an Annual Report should give feedback on the activities of each quarter.

Presidential Notice on deployment of SANDF to Union of Comoros
The Chairperson outlined the procedure that had to be followed in such matters, noting that such decisions had to be brought to the attention of Parliament which exercised an oversight function. The readiness of the South African National Force (SANDF) would have to be confirmed.

Commenting on the notice from the President, the Chairperson noted that there was no objection by the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.

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