Public Service Amendment Bill [B31-2006]: preparation for Public hearings & adoption of Workshop Report

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Meeting report

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 February 2007
PUBLIC SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL [B31-2006]:PREPARATION FOR PUBLIC HEARINGS & ADOPTION OF WORKSHOP REPORT

Chairperson:
Mr P Gomomo (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Strategic Planning Workshop: 18-20 February 2007 [please email info@pmg.org.za]
Submissions on the Public Service Amendment Bill
Minutes of Committee Proceedings: 13 February 2007
Programme of the Portfolio Committee
Public Service Amendment Bill [B31-2006]

Audio Recording of the Meeting


SUMMARY
Members of the Committee discussed the adoption of the Report on the Strategic Planning Workshop. Two conferences had been left out and two round table discussions needed to be added to the Agenda. Once these amendments were made, the Report was adopted.

The Committee discussed the programme for the public hearings on the Public Service Amendment Bill. Issues raised by the South African Police Service would be dealt with at a bilateral level. It was clarified that the purpose of calling people to public hearings was to provide a participatory public platform and any relevant submissions should be heard. Members confirmed that the interests of service delivery were paramount. One of the submissions had addressed a matter not yet before the Committee. A letter would be written to the person sending the submission, but if the person felt strongly he would be free to attend the hearing. It was suggested that the Committee must clarify the purpose and importance of the hearings to those called to attend. Members discussed particular submissions and decided that some submissions did not need further elucidation. There was some uncertainty whether one issue raised should be dealt with at national or provincial level. The Department undertook to engage with the MEC for the province and revert to the Committee with a report. The final programme would be available on 9 March.

MINUTES
Adoption of report on Strategic Planning Workshop

The Chair stated that he had received submissions from the Public Service Commission (PSC) indicating that two conferences were not listed in the strategic planning session. He said that the IMPMA and the Monitoring and Evaluation conferences should therefore be added. ANC Members of the Committee had requested for there to be two round table discussions added to the agenda. The discussions would include the role of civil society in deepening democracy and accelerating service delivery, and the state of crime in South Africa.

The Committee unanimously adopted the report, as amended.

Public Service Amendment Bill (PSA Bill): Examination of submissions
The Chairperson stated that the Committee must look at the submissions made by the various stakeholders on the Public Service Amendment Bill, in order to prepare for the public hearings. It was important to filter out irrelevant or repetitive submissions in order to decide who should appear at the public hearings.

The Chairperson noted that the first set of meetings would be held on 14 March. The purpose of this meeting would be to consider the Public Service Amendment Bill and hearings would be conducted for the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU). The meeting on 15 March would be with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and their affiliates, which were still to be indicated, and as from 25 March individuals and other stakeholders would be accommodated. The Committee would only accommodate two stakeholders a day, except for the day when COSATU and its affiliates appeared. The Committee would then have to apply for special permission to sit during the parliamentary recess. The Committee Research Unit and the State Law Advisors would prepare short summaries arising from the hearings.

Mr Biyela Mlungisi, Committee researcher took members of the committee through the various submissions made on the PSA bill and outlined the various concerns and proposals that were raised by the various stakeholders.

Discussion
The Chairperson stated that the issues raised by the South African Police Service (SAPS) would be dealt with at a bilateral level between SAPS and the Department. The Committee’s position would therefore be decided on 17 March. The Committee would respond to Mr MDS Motshumi in terms of the one stop service agreement, without referral. Mr Sunil Gopal had raised an issue that dealt with public interest. It was important to note that the Committee’s purpose in calling people to public hearings was not to seek answers but to provide a participatory public platform. If the Committee felt that his submission was relevant then he should be called to the public hearing.

Ms Mashangoane asked the Chair to provide clarity on what would happen if a person refused to accept the decision made by the Committee.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee would refer the matter to the Department, and if the Department provided a satisfactory answer then it would not be necessary to call the individual. However the Committee stood to benefit from the issues raised by Mr Gopal, and he should be called to the public hearing.

Mr J Nyambi asked for an elaboration of the meaning of public interest.

Adv Empie Van Schoor,  Chief Director, Legal Services: DPSA responded  that it was important that due process was followed when dealing with public hearings. Therefore the terminology should be changed from the ”interest of the public” to “interest of service delivery”.

The Chairperson said that the submission made by Mr Stan Davis dealt with issues surrounding a single public service, but the Committee was currently not dealing with the public service matter.

Ms Mashangoane (ANC) responded that the Committee could not refuse to call someone to a public hearing because the individual had made a future submission.

The Chairperson said that everyone was welcome to attend the public hearings. The Committee would write to Mr Davis and explain to him that his submission would be dealt with at the time when the Committee was dealing with the Public Service Bill. If Mr Davis felt strongly he could attend the hearings.

Mr Nyambi was worried that people might use the hearing to promote a particular agenda that was irrelevant to the matters at hand. It was vital that the Committee provide clarity to those called to appear on the importance of the hearings.

The Chairperson noted the request.

The Chairperson stated that the submission made by Mr Cupido was irrelevant and did not require either a hearing or a response. There was uncertainty, in regard to the North West MEC, whether the matter should be dealt with at the national or provincial level. The Committee would request the Department to engage with the Premier’s office to get some clarity.

Ms Van Schoor confirmed that the Department would engage with the MEC, and inform the Committee on the proposals that were made.

The Chairperson noted that the final programme would be available on Friday 6 March.

The meeting was adjourned.


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