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DEFENCE PORTFOLIO AND JOINT STANDING COMMITTEES
9 October 2007
SANDF DEPLOYMENT NOTIFICATION; COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION
Chairperson of Joint Standing Committee on Defence: Dr E Schoemann (ANC)
Chairperson Portfolio Committee on Defence: Mr F Bhengu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Public Hearings on Well-Being of Military Veterans
Committee Report on the Study Tour to Canada
Committee Report on the Defence Budget 2007/08
Committee Report on Oversight visits to Simonstown and Saldanha
[All reports available at Committee Reports once published]
Audio recording of meeting
The Joint Standing Committee approved the deployment of the South African National Defence Force to the Central African Republic. Committee members were concerned by the lack of detail in the Letter from the President regarding the duties of the deployed and deployment costs. The Joint Standing Committee adopted its Committee Report on the Public Hearings on the Well-Being of Military Veterans.
The Portfolio Committee adopted their Committee Reports on the Defence Budget 2007/08, Oversight visits to Simonstown and Saldanha and the Study Tour to Canada as well as their minutes for the 12 and 18 September meetings. The Department of Defence’s Annual Report had been tabled and they would be briefed on it shortly. It was suggested that the Secretary of Defence should be present at that briefing. Reference was also made to the Treasury workshop on 21 September 2007 attended by Committee Chairpersons that had provided guidelines for improving oversight of departments when interrogating their annual reports. It was suggested that a similar workshop be held for all committee members.
The Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the Portfolio Committee on Defence held their first joint meeting. Dr E Schoemann noted that the intention behind having joint meetings of the two Defence Committees was to avoid duplication and efficiently utilise members’ time as the two committees shared members.
Joint Standing Committee on Defence approval of Deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to Central African Republic (CAR)
Dr Schoemann explained that the letter from the President on the deployment of the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) to the Central African Republic (CAR) was in accordance with the stipulations of the Constitution, which requires the President to inform the Committee of such a deployment.
Mr R Shah (DA) had noted that there was no financial information and asked if it were possible that the Committee could see said information.
Dr Schoemann replied that the President did not have to include the financial information, according to the Constitution. However, he suggested that perhaps the Committee should contact the Office of the President to find out if the Committee could receive more information on this aspect of the deployment.
The motion for the Committee to adopt the letter was given by Mr M Booi (ANC) and seconded by Mr L Diale (ANC). The Committee was unanimous in adopting the letter and its contents.
Mr Shah had concerns that there was not sufficient knowledge about the specified duties of those deployed and asked that the Chairperson respectfully request that such information be forwarded to the Committee.
Dr Schoemann agreed that the Committees should be more involved.
Mr M Booi (ANC) said that the process should be properly understood and probably needed to be explained. He added that the Office of the Presidency could not be blamed.
Mr F Bhengu mentioned that if there were concerns, the Committee should have brought them forward. He agreed with Dr Schoemann that the Committee should be more involved in the process.
Joint Standing Committee on Defence Committee Report on Public Hearings on Well-Being of Military Veterans
The Committee adopted the report unanimously.
Portfolio Committee on Defence Reports: adoption
Mr F Bhengu (ANC) referred to the Committee Reports that needed to be adopted.
The Committee Report on the Defence Budget was adopted with amendments made by Mr R Shah (DA) and Dr G Koornhof (ANC).
The Committee Report on the Oversight visits to Simonstown Naval Base and Saldanah Military Academy was adopted with amendments.
The Committee Report on the Study Tour to Canada was adopted.
Portfolio Committee on Defence programme
Mr Bhengu noted that they were to be briefed by the Department of Defence on the Department’s Annual Report. The Department had tabled the report whilst Parliament was in recess. The Committee had not reviewed the report. He indicated that at the next meeting the Committee would be able to review the Annual Report.
Dr Koornhof informed the Committee that the responsibility of the Castle Control Board had been transferred from the Department of Defence to the Department of Arts and Culture.
He referred to the Treasury workshop on the 21 September 2007 attended by Committee Chairpersons that had provided guidelines for improving oversight of departments when interrogating their annual reports. It had given advice on how to deal with the briefings and reports that the Committees receive.
Mr Booi commented that the Secretary of Defence should be present at the review of the Annual Report.
Mr Shah agreed with Mr Booi and that the Committee should reflect on previous recommendations it had made about Department of Defence Annual Reports.
He added that the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) had not actively engaged with the Committee and that this should be corrected.
Mr Bhengu suggested that a repeat workshop on evaluating annual reports should be arranged for all and he would ask the Presiding Officers if this could be arranged.
Mr Bhengu adjourned the meeting.
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