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JOINT RULES COMMITTEE
24 August 2001
Chairpersons: Ms Frene Ginwala & Ms Naledi Pandor
Documents handed out
Parliament's Involvement in the World Conference Against Racism.
Speaker's Report to Joint Rules Committee on Immigration Bill (See Appendix)
Currently the Rules of Parliament do not permit minority reports though minority views are allowed to be included in a Committee report. In the discussion, minority political parties were of the view that minority reports are necessary in order to enhance a more open and accountable democratic process.
After discussion the Speaker ruled that the majority view was that the Rules remain as they are and there be no provision for minority reports. Any committee chair who does not allow a minority view to be expressed should be reported to the presiding officers. Parties may submit written submissions so there can be a debate on the matter.
The discussion looked at whether or not there was any need for filing of minority reports.
Ms Seaton (IFP) emphasised that many of the minority parties feel strongly that there should be minority reports. She commented that Parliament should look at a variety of options such as whether the Rules of Parliament change to allow minority reports or to incorporate the views of the minority in the documentation. It was problematic that the Rules of the National Assembly prohibited the expression of minority views while surprisingly, the Rules of the NCOP allowed the expression of minority views. This created a conflict between the two sets of rules and on this basis, this needed to be addressed.
The Speaker clarified that National Assembly rules do allow the incorporation of minority views. She said that it was important to draw a line and distinguish reports from views.
Mr J Selfe (DP) supported Ms Seaton's submission.
Mr N Nhleko (ANC) commented that Seaton and Selfe's approach was incorrect as these committee members spoke as if there will be a policy decision allowing minority reports. No particular policy position or standpoint had been taken concerning minority reports. He stressed the importance of not confusing minority reports with minority views.
Ms Ginwala opined that that the question of the incorporation of minority views was not in dispute because it is provided for within the NCOP. Therefore, there was no need to debate the question of minority views. The real issue to be considered was whether minority reports should be allowed. The NA Rules prohibits a committee to submit a minority report except where provided in the Rules. The Joint Rules say that a joint committee may not submit a minority report except where provided for in the Rules.
She said that there was a need for a policy decision in the Joint Rules Committee whether or not minority reports are desirable. Once a policy decision has been taken, it has to be referred to the Subcommittee on Rules to make an appropriate formulation. She said parties are invited to make their submissions on this matter. She acknowledged Ms Seaton and Mr Selfe's views but added that there was a need to hear from other parties whether minority reports were necessary at all.
[Ms Ginwala later corrected her erroneous statement that the Rules of the NCOP allow the accommodation of minority reports. The NCOP only allows minority views. Therefore, there is no provision in either house for minority reports.]
Ms Seaton noted that her party, the IFP, fully supports minority reports.
A member of the Freedom Front added that his party supports minority reports.
An ANC member stated that the ANC has deliberated at length concerning the issues and had resolved that it is not in favour of minority reports.
This caused commotion in the meeting as minority party members asked for a motivation for this proposal.
Ms Dudley (ACDP) stated that the ACDP supports the policy of minority reports.
Adv M Masutha (ANC) commented that there are about thirteen political parties represented in Parliament and they may all have differing views on an issue. There was a danger that Parliament might end up with thirteen minority reports and this was likely to cloud the issues and lead to confusion.
Mr Andrew (DP) asked for an interpretation, legal or otherwise, of a minority view.
Mr Chauke pointed out that it was not necessary to expend energy on an item that was not part of the agenda. Mr Andrew replied that on the careful reading of the agenda, it also included minority views. He referred to Annexure 5 which refers to minority views. An ANC member commented that the real issue on the agenda is minority reports.
Mr Nhleko was of the view that those parties who are in favour of minority reports should be able to prove the extent to which the current system, which disallows minority reports, stifles and muffles the democratic process. However, if minority reports were allowed, it would be difficult to deal with the reports both from a managerial and a political viewpoint, being mindful of the fact that there are thirteen minority parties.
Mr Surty (ANC) said that the weight of the opinion seemed to indicate that most of the members were opposed to minority reports.
Ms Seaton said that minority reports are important because minority views are not adequately expressed. This posed a danger to democracy. She said that the Constitution entitles minority parties to have minority views expressed.
An Opposition member argued that the fact that there are thirteen minority political parties was not a major impediment. The fear that there would be a multiplicity of reports was unfounded because these parties would attempt to reach a consensus on the issues that they desire should be stated in a minority report.
My Yengeni (ANC) reiterated the ANC's position that it is not persuaded that the allowance of minority reports is the correct path to be followed. It was satisfied with the rules as they stand. He was not persuaded by the view that all thirteen minority parties could reach consensus on an issue because they all reach different views. He concluded that the ANC remains unmoved at its standpoint, "the opposition can shout as loud as they can" but the ANC will not be persuaded by them.
Mr Selfe commented that, historically, South African parliament had provided for minority reports even in the pre-democratic era.
Ms Ginwala expressed an opposite view and said that there was no Parliament before 1994. Therefore, there were no precedents. A parliament that is undemocratic is not parliament, thus there are no precedents at all. She resolved that the majority view rules. The Rules stand as they are and there is no provision for minority reports. Any committee chair, regardless of party affiliation, who does not allow a minority view to be expressed should be reported to the presiding officers as this is totally undemocratic and unacceptable. This is the manner in which minority views are allowed. However she concluded that the parties are invited to submit written submissions and there can be a debate on the matter.
Report of Joint Subcommittee on Internal Arrangements
An important issue of discussion was that it had been resolved by the National Assembly to erect either a statue or a bust of the former president of South Africa, President Nelson Mandela, in the vicinity of Parliament. Parties have been given a mandate to consult regarding the matter.
Mr Hendrickse (ANC) noted that the ANC opts for the construction of a statue and that it should be located and be visible within the precinct of Parliament. He made a proposal that art colleges and schools be invited to make recommendations on the exact location and size of the statue.
Joint Subcommittee Report on International Relations
No report that had been prepared by this committee. It had been proposed at its last meeting that a whole day meeting be convened. However, no decision has been made on a date and the meeting is still due to take place.
Mr Seepe (ANC) explained that the UN Conference against Racism will be taking place from 27 August to 7 September 2001. It is divided into two parts: the NGO conference from 27 to 31 August and the actual UN World Conference against Racism from 1 to 7 September 2001. Parliament of South Africa will be represented by eight members in the NGO segment of the conference. The members will be:
Mr Peter Mokaba (ANC)
Ms N Mapisa Nqakula (ANC)
Mr N Nhleko (ANC)
Dr J Benjamin (ANC)
Mr M Ramgobin (ANC)
Ms D Smuts (DP)
Mr J van der Merwe (IFP)
Ms S Camerer (NNP)
A national delegation will represent South Africa at the World Conference plenary. The delegation will be decided on by the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
Mr T Yengeni (ANC) asked for clarity on what the role of Parliament would at the intergovernmental conference, Ms Ginwala replied that over many years there has been pressure from parliaments for inclusion of parliamentarians. The same rules apply to specialized conferences, such as conferences on agriculture. Governments are allowed to state their respective positions at these gatherings.
Report of the Joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability
No report which had been prepared for the meeting. Mr Surty (ANC) commented that the work of the committee is progressing very well and that it has only one more chapter to look at in the report on Oversight and Accountability. He expressed hope that a committee report will have been drafted in the week of 27 August 2001 for submission to the Rules Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
Speaker's Report to Joint Rules Committee on Immigration Bill
23 August 2001
On 7 June the Minister of Home Affairs submitted a draft of the Immigration Bill. The draft Bill was referred to the relevant NA and NCOP Committees in accordance with Joint Rule 159. This was announced in the ATC of 15 June.
2. The text of the bill as it was to be introduced in Parliament was subsequently published in the Government Gazette of 29 June by the Ministry, and submitted to Parliament for introduction.
3. The text received by Parliament had not been certified by the State Law Advisers, but had been submitted directly from the Ministry.
4. The text was then proof-read and edited by Parliamentary staff. In the absence of certification by the State Law Advisers, the Parliamentary law advisers were requested to consider the bill.
5. The Parliamentary law advisers commented on the constitutionality of the bill, and advised that the bill would be constitutionally out of order in terms of Joint Rule 161 in that it contained provisions, which can only be introduced as a money bill.
6. In the interim the Ministry had had the bill "certified" as complying with the Constitution by independent Senior Counsel.
7. In the meantime I had alerted the Minister in writing on 22 August that the bill could be found to be constitutionally out of order by the JTM and therefore be referred back to the Ministry.
8. The Minister responded on the same day, questioning the process.
9. The bill was therefore formally introduced on 23 August and referred to the Portfolio Committee as well as the Joint Tagging Mechanism. The JTM will be meeting on Monday to formally consider the classification of the Bill.
10. Copies of the correspondence and related documents have been distributed to members of the Joint Rules Committee.
No related documents
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