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PRIVATE MEMBERS’ LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS
06 June 2007
FREE STATE (JOYCE GONGXEKA) SPECIAL PETITION ON DEFENCE MATTERS & INTERNATIONAL STUDY TOUR FEEDBACK
Chairperson: Mr F Adams (ANC, Western Cape)
Documents handed out:
Rules of the National Council of Provinces: 8th Edition March 2007
Audio Recording of the Meeting
The Committee noted that the Free State Legislature had submitted to this Committee a petition that had been lodged by Ms J Gongxeka. The Committee must forward the petition to the Department of Defence, as well as to the Minister, would correspond with them as necessary on the answers, and would then need to convene a meeting to consider the petition, the responses and to take legal advice whether the petition was appropriate, whether the petitioner had exhausted all other remedies, and on the points the Committee should be considering. All parties would be advised of the procedure and the matter would proceed along that route. .
It was noted that the Committee Secretary had drafted a report on the international Study Tour to Britain but was awaiting some feedback. She was requested to submit the report to Members before the recess so that Members could apply their minds to it, suggest any amendments and approve the report on return from the constituency period.
Special Petition submitted by Free State Legislature, on behalf of Ms Joyce Gongxeka
The Chairperson welcomed MP Mr C van Rooyen, (Free State), Adv V Mnana (Procedural Advisor, NCOP) and Adv Refilwe Mathabathe (Legal Advisor, Parliament).
The Chairperson noted that this Committee had apparently been assigned a full time Legal Advisor, who was not present. She noted that Adv Mathabathe was not assigned to the committee but was helping out.
The Chairperson noted that all Members had received the petition, but apologised that the petition had been circulated late, as the first version sent to the Committee was unreadable and a better copy was needed. He indicated that the proper procedure must be followed, and that the Committee would therefore need to get comment from the Department of Defence, who would be asked to respond within the next thirty days. If no reply was submitted, they would be invited again to do so, and if necessary summoned to appear before the Committee. The Office of the Minister of Defence would simultaneously be informed that the petition was before the Committee so that answers could be obtained. Mr van Rooyen would then be seized with the matter, and if it was found that all other avenues had been exhausted by the petitioner the Committee would then deal with the petition.
Adv Mnana agreed that was correct, and that more information was needed so that the Committee would be in a position to consider both versions from petitioner and the affected Department and Minister.
Adv Mathabathe added that her office would come in on the substance of the petition at the point where the petition was ready for consideration by the Committee when she would give legal advice on the Committee's position and the stance it could adopt, and whether the petition had followed the correct steps and was in order. At present she was of the view that the matter was not ripe for discussion and that Ms Gongxeka had not yet exhausted all other avenues.
The Committee secretary asked whether Mr van Rooyen could give the background to the petition.
The Chairperson responded that the procedure was different between the NCOP and NA petitions Committees. This Committee received its petitions from provinces whereas the NA received directly from individuals.
Mr C van Rooyen stated that this petition was handed in at the Free State Legislature during April this year and he was requested by the Free State Legislature to table the petition with the Chairperson of the NCOP in Cape Town. Defence was not a provincial competency, and therefore the Free State legislature was not able to deal with the petition. The only input he could make related to the allegations as set out in the document and he was not part of the initial process of the petition.
The Chairperson emphasised that the rules of the NCOP were totally different to those of the NA regarding petitions. He referred to Page 90 of the Rules, Clause 234, which stated that "After tabling a petition in the Council, the Chairperson of the Council must refer the petition to the Select Committee on Members Legislative Proposals."
The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee must therefore forward the petition for comment by the Department of Defence, as well as to the Minister, and would engage in any further necessary correspondence before convening a meeting to discuss the issues and receive legal advice on the petition.
Adv Mathabathe concurred that it would be correct for the legal advisors to give an opinion as to the substance of the petition.
Adv Mnana agreed, and noted that the petitioner should be informed of the procedure.
The Chairperson noted that he would also inform the Secretary of the Free State Legislature, Mr van Rooyen and all the role players of the procedure.
International Study Tour to Britain
The Chairperson noted that the Committee Secretary had written a report, but was still expecting feedback from the delegation that went to London. He asked that the Committee should receive the report as soon as possible before Parliament rose, so that Members could apply their minds to it and bring their recommendations on their return from the constituency period.
The Chair of Chairs had asked him to address the policy budget first, and therefore the budget debate would be the priority issue at meetings. He stressed that there must be a quorum present.
The meeting was adjourned.
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