SASOL and ENGEN Reports: adoption; University of Pretoria: briefing

Science and Technology

13 February 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


13 February 2007

Chairperson: Mr E Ngcobo (ANC)

Documents handed out
Study tour to ENGEN Refinery, Durban
Study tour to Sasolburg and Secunda
Way forward for the Research and Innovation Management Programme
University of Pretoria presentation
Prof MW Pretorius’s Research and Innovation Management Programme: University of Pretoria

Audio Recording of the meeting

The University of Pretoria presented the details of a course in Research and Innovation Management that Members could enrol in. The Committee also adopted reports on study tours to SASOL and ENGEN, discussed its study tour to Sweden and adopted its first term programme.

The Chairperson opened the meeting expressing first the apologies of Ms B T Ngcobo (ANC) who was not well. He suggested the Committee liase with her to find out more about her illness. It is a problem with her legs and it is possible that they will be amputated. He wanted the Committee to express solidarity with her. They did previously send a card but more must be done.

Ms Z Jansen (Committee Secretary) commented that she had spoken to Ms Ngcobo’s assistant earlier in the day and she was now home from hospital.

The Chairperson said that they need to know the circumstances and must follow up on the issue. He expressed apologies from Mr S N Nxumalo (ANC) who was in a Communications meeting and Mr B J Mnyandu (ANC) who could not attend the meeting as he was engaged with Foreign Affairs. He gave the Committee a few minutes to read through the minutes from 14 November 2006 before adopting them.

Mr A R Ainslie (ANC) proposed that the minutes be adopted and Mr J P I Blanche (DA) seconded.

Mr S L Dithebe (ANC) added that the grammar should be tidied up but that he agreed to acceptance.

Committee Programme
The Chairperson said that Parliamentary activities could only start after the budget speech which accounts for the timing of the SASOL and ENGEN study tours. He asked if the Committee had any additions to the program for the first term of Parliament. There would probably be changes in the Parliamentary program but it should not affect the Science and Technology Committee too much.

Mr Ainslie suggested that since the ENGEN presentation will address skills shortages and this is an issue that affects everyone, they should invite everyone to this presentation. This is especially needed since it is in a large venue. He asked whether the oversight visit scheduled for the 6th of March had been approved.

The Chairperson said that it was approved but they needed to move the date. With regards to the ENGEN presentation, he had taken personal concern with the ENGEN briefs and had tried to involve all relevant stakeholders. Even Gen Bantu Holomisa (UDM) had expressed an interest in attending. He had invited the Committees on education, labour and others. ENGEN had also invited SASOL.

Mr Dithebe commented on the timeslots saying that the purpose of starting at 10:00AM was so that Members had a chance to take care of administrative issues before the meeting. He proposed that they start at 10:00 AM but end at 12:30 PM instead of 1:00 PM as this would allow for a proper sit-down lunch. He commented that this might be a more cost effective approach. He further said that meetings on Fridays should end at 12:00 PM instead of at 11:00 PM.

The Chairperson said that the proposal from Mr Dithebe made sense but that sometimes meetings overran. They should use 12:30 PM as a guideline. He asked if the Committee accepted his proposal.

Mr Blanche commented that the Friday 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM meeting was designed to give Members a chance to fly in the afternoon, so they should not change the time to 12:00 PM. He otherwise agreed with Mr Dithebe.

Mr P D N Maloyi (ANC) said that they should try and meet on the 7th March from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. For the presentation from the Department, Tuesdays are reserved for Science and Technology so there should be no problem with a venue.

Mr Ainslie supported this idea but agreed with Mr Blanche about ending at 11:00 AM on a Friday. They should manage their time and speakers better. They should be disciplined with the number and nature of the questions they ask during meetings.

The Chairperson said that Mr Blanche made a good point and they should move the Friday meeting to Tuesday. He did circulate the briefs and there are a lot of important issues to discuss with the Department and they cannot do the issues justice in a short time. They want to overhaul how the Department works. He disagreed with Mr Ainslie as the nature of the presentations determines the questions. They must try not to duplicate questions. They must try to get the venue from 9:00 AM for the presentation from the Department.

Mr Ainslie said that he agrees about this particular meeting. He suggested that if they cannot get through all the questions in the time, they should submit written questions and engage with the Department in this way all through the year.

The Chairperson said that he agrees but has a minor argument as written correspondence takes time and is very open ended as more questions will arise from each set of answers. They sometimes have problems with venues. He welcomed the guests from the University of Pretoria who had just arrived.

Mr Maloyi said that he wants the Committee to agree with the Chairperson and Mr Ainslie. They should avoid long speeches during meetings, mockingly suggesting that Mr Dithebe was guilty of doing this, and they must manage the Members.

Mr Dithebe playfully replied that he could not agree more.

The Chairperson asked if the Committee accepted the program with amendments.

Ms F Mohamed (ANC) motioned to adopt the program.

Mr Blanche seconded her motion.

The Chairperson suggested that they hear the presentation first and then continue with the rest of the meeting. He introduced Professors A Buys (Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology Management, University of Pretoria and T Pretorius (Head of the Department of Engineering and Technology Management, University of Pretoria).

Presentation by the University of Pretoria
Prof A Buys presented the proposal for a course for the Committee to participate in. The course is a follow up on the one that some Members completed during the previous year. He said that he had tried to incorporate the questions that the Members had sent prior to the meeting. They had created a Research and Innovation Management Programme to provide knowledge to the Members. He discussed the Department of Engineering and Technology at the University of Pretoria, including its origins and aims. He continued to describe what the department offers academically. They have 600 post graduate students making it the biggest post graduate department in the country and one of the biggest in the world. He detailed each level of study that they offered. He also described how the formal course articulates with the short course that Members did in the last year. They would be exempt from some of the module lectures. The Certificate programmes are done through the Continuing Education Department at the University of Pretoria. It is the same as the short course and it articulates in the same way with the formal degrees. They need to choose 8 modules out of a possible 10. He gave a brief overview of the topics and discussed the accreditation of the course. It is not accredited with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as it is a public institution.

Prof Pretorius added that the certificate is broad so that it will be applicable outside of Parliament. There are strict rules for the articulation of the certificate with the degree. There can be special concession from senate for some people.

Mr P J Nefolovhodwe (AZAPO) asked if it was possible to attend only a few of the modules for non-degree purposes if one felt that they had sufficient knowledge of the rest.

Ms Mohamed said that she did the previous course but never received accreditation for it. Some Members have a Masters degree in the Humanities, are they able to continue in science degrees? She was interested in the other certificate topics and requested to hear more about their content. She asked if there were any exams for the certificate.

The Chairperson requested further information on Asset and Maintenance management in particular.

The Chairperson said that they had all been worried that they did not receive confirmation or acknowledgement of having completed the previous course.

Prof Pretorius said that there were only assignments for the certificate. The other certificates had the same requirements. The Asset and Maintenance course is new because of the growing industry. There are three main aspects to the course; economic, technical and operational. Humanity backgrounds are not an issue for the certificates and it is possible to do postgraduate level degrees as well, there is a special honours/masters course for people who come from different academic backgrounds. He would look up the certificate issue as soon as possible.

Pro Pretorius continued to say that it was possible and the University of Pretoria would give credit for any modules that were completed.

Prof Buys added that if they are interested in the content of the other courses they could find it on the internet and they will send it to the secretary as well. He apologised for the issue with the certificates and said that he was shocked to hear that they had received nothing. He said that the University can do in house ad hoc courses but would prefer to include people from outside. He asked the Committee how they felt about this.

The Chairperson said that he had invited people from outside the Committee but not outside Parliament. It is funded from a parliamentary platform and he needs to find out about who would come. They would return to the issue.

Mr Ainslie asked if there were a minimum number of people who must do the course.

Prof Buys said that they do have fixed costs and it will be more expensive per person with fewer people.

Mr Blanche said that he was pleased that they were having the discussion. He said that some engineers could only design no matter what the cost, their knowledge was very narrow. They should consider sending some of their staff, especially in public administration so that the department is run like a business. The expanded public works course is perfect for this and they should invite the Portfolio Committee on Public Works.

Ms Mohamed said that the course should be holistic. Some overseas courses cover very current issues. They want to create managers and leaders.

Prof Pretorius said that he agrees and that is the philosophy of the department. They are multidisciplinary and that is why the department was created. That is their approach.

The Chairperson said that they should follow up on the Technology and Society course. In 2004 Japan created this and Hungary did as well. Japan is creating a new nuclear power system and they have a course called ‘nuclear power and society’. He thinks that the course must be developed. He thanked the presenters and invited them to lunch. He moved onto the next item on the agenda: the SASOL and ENGEN reports. He asked for input.

Mr Blanche motioned to adopt the report.

Mr Nefolovhodwe seconded his motion.

The Chairperson asked about the ENGEN report.

Mr Dithebe said that the secretary’s name should be put under supporting staff and not under Members. He noted that his name was missing even though he was there. He also pointed out that Mr Nefolovhodwe belonged to AZAPO and not APO as it stood in the document.

The Chairperson asked if they accepted the report with corrections.

Mr Ainslie adopted the report.

Mr Blanche seconded the motion.

The Chairperson said that they had been waiting for the program for their trip to Sweden. They needed to submit it. The application was ready for submission that day.

Mr Nefolovhodwe asked what date the trip was planned for.

The Chairperson said the 9th to 13th of April. They were applying for all the Members to attend. The secretary would circulate the program. There was one announcement: there will be a course in space science in France from the Department. They must think about it. It is a week long. They should have a presentation from the Director-General about it.

Mr Dithebe said that Mr Ainslie is proficient in French and should thus get involved.

The Chairperson closed the meeting.


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