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Meeting reportNATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES RULES COMMITTEE
1 NOVEMBER 2006
These minutes were provided by the National Council of Provinces Tabled Staff
Hollander, Ms P M (Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP)
Dlulane, Ms B N
Goeieman, Mr C M
Mack, Mr N J
Matlanyane, Ms H F
Mokoena, Kgoshi L M
Nyanda, Ms M F
Ntuli, Mr Z C
Oliphant, Mrs M N (House Chairperson)
Terblanche, Ms J
Tlhagale Mr J O
Van Heerden, Dr F J
Watson, Mr A
Windvoël, Mr V V Z (Chief Whip of the NCOP)
IN ATTENDANCE: Staff: Adv. L L Matyolo-Dube, Adv. B V L Momoti, Mr S Makhasi, Mr B Nonyane, Ms J A Borien, Mr M Tyumre, Mr M Nguqu, Ms V Mnana, Ms S Bowers, Mr M Tshaiviti.
The Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms PM Hollander, opened the meeting at 10:00 and welcomed all to the meeting.
The following apologies were received:
Chairperson of the NCOP Mr MJ Mahlangu, House Chairperson Mr. TS Setona, Mr MA Mzizi and Ms Motlhoahela
3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA
The agenda was adopted with additions.
4. CONSIDERATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF 20 SEPTEMBER
The minutes were adopted as a correct reflection of the meeting of 20 September 2006.
5. MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES OF 20 SEPTEMBER 2006
Follow up workshop on Joint Programming
Ms Oliphant reported that the workshop on programming was held with Provincial Chairpersons of Chairpersons, Chief Whips, NA House Chairpersons and NCOP House Chairpersons. The workshop dealt with some of the issues but it was agreed that there would be a follow up workshop in January 2007.
6. MATTERS ON THE AGENDA
6.1. Discipline – Parties to report back
Dr. Van Heerden referred to a document (report of the subcommittee on Review of Rules) issued on the previous meeting 20 September 2006 regarding the appointment of outside legal representation.
Ms. Oliphant stated that, the document was distributed to all members to read and consider and that all political parties were to comment on whether they supported what appeared in the document before the committee was established. Her understanding was that each political party had to indicate whether they agreed in terms of what was in the document. She suggested that after presentation by the parties the committee should take a decision or that a decision be deferred.
The Chief Whip also raised the point that if political parties had submissions to make then they should present them to the meeting. Thereafter the parties gave their comments as follows:
Freedom Front Plus
Dr Van Heerden referred the members to the document dated 19 September 2006 – “Procedure to be followed in the investigation and determination of misconduct and contempt of Parliament”
Paragraph 1 & 3 refer to legal representation by a person who is not an MP. He said that in complex matters members might need legal representation.
He stated that there were several members of Parliament who were competent lawyers and that might not be financially viable for a member to employ outside legal advice. He questioned why was a member who was a lawyer not be able to represent a colleague, be that of the same party or another party in order to save costs?
Mr. Watson stated that as he had indicated at the previous meeting, the DA had no reservation on a committee being established because the Constitution enjoined the NCOP to do so and the Act that followed the Constitution, the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act No. 4 in section 12 (1) actually stipulates that the “Subject to this Act the House has all the powers which are necessary for the enquiry into and pronouncing upon any act for matters declared by or under section 13 to be in contempt of Parliament by a member and taking disciplinary action provided therefore”. He said that the composition of this committee was not debatable in terms of the content and the disciplinary nature thereof. He mentioned that the Act provided that the House must appoint a standing committee to deal with all the enquiries referred to in subsection 1. He had looked for the definition of the standing committee in both the Act and the Rules and found that both referred to committees and not to a standing committee per se. His understanding of a standing committee was that, it was a committee appointed on a permanent basis. He said that by virtue of the spirit of parliament and democracy, standing committees must be represented proportionally by all parties represented in a House or in the Houses. He did not think that it was a point of debate when he suggested that the same formula was used for oversees travel be adopted once the number of members to serve on the committee has been determined.
He said that the DA proposal was that the committee should be represented by all parties and they had a problem with the interpretation of the position of a standing committee. He asked what the position would be, if a standing committee has a standing committee of five (as the Chairperson recommended) and two of those members were in contempt? Did the three remaining members have the right to consider the misdemeanours of those two members?
He referred the meeting to the National Assembly where ad hoc committees were appointed representing all the parties. He said an ad hoc committee would eliminate the problems of members on the committee themselves being the subject of investigations for contempt or disciplinary action. Mr Watson reiterated that before the DA could finally pronounce themselves the composition of the committee was vital.
In summary the DA raised the following:
· They had no reservation about the committee being established;
· The composition of the committee was vital;
· They suggested that the committee be represented by all parties;
· They called for a final structured document with powers and functions;
· They queried what were the extended functions of the committee;
· They suggested recourse for a member found guilty (provision for appeal);
The Chief Whip said that parties should be requested to make written submissions because it would have allowed for a systematic discussion.
He said that there are certain parameters and principles which were agreed upon in the last meeting. He stated that there was an agreement that the committee should be five. This could not be based on proportionality, because then members who were from smaller parties would not be represented.
He said that we would need members of high calibre who would go beyond party affiliation and would objectively look at the matter at hand.
Kgoshi Mokoena referred to the provision of paragraph 2 on page 7 of the minutes. He quoted the views supported by the Chairperson. He drew the committee’s direction to paragraph 3, that the Act referred to a standing committee and not an ad hoc committee. He said that the principles were agreed upon by all parties and that the mandate was that all parties would report at the meeting of 1 November 2006.
Mr. Watson reiterated that if the Chairperson appointed the members of the committee then it would not be a standing committee in terms of his understanding of the definition of a standing committee.
The Chief Whip said that the ANC was in agreement with the principles and the framework which was discussed.
Kgoshi Mokoena mentioned that in the Act, a standing committee was defined as a committee established by Parliament.
The Secretary of the NCOP stated that the term standing committee could create a lot of misunderstanding, and that it depended on which system was being referred to.
She said that in the
In the South African system, a standing committee is standing in the sense that it is a permanent committee.
Mr. Watson said that he wanted clarity on the definition of standing per se and what the composition of a standing committee was in Parliamentary terms.
The Chief Whip said that there was agreement that not all parties represented in the Council will be represented in the Committee.
Mr Hendricks said that the UIF wanted clarity on whether an appeal procedure was provided for.
Mr Tlhagale said that the UCDP had no objection to the formation of the standing committee.
Mr Sulliman said the ANC was in agreement and that the sooner the committee was established the better.
Mr. Watson said that before there could be an approval, the provisions relating to the committee needed to be finalised. He insisted that the DA be given an option to serve in the committee.
Dr. van Heerden proposed that a small ad hoc committee be appointed to prepare a draft and referred to Rule 245 of NCOP Rules.
The Chief Whip suggested that the submissions that the parties had made should be sent to the Subcommittee on Review of Rules. He further proposed that by the next Rules committee meeting the issue needed to be finalised.
The Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP proposed that Kgoshi Mokoena’s subcommittee come up with a proposal.
Ms. Oliphant said that the very same proposal that was discussed came from the same subcommittee. She said that there had been an agreement that we need a committee of five. The committee would report back to the House and the House would take a decision whether it was in favour of the recommendations of the committee or not.
The Secretary to the NCOP advised that the Subcommittee on Review of Rules should prepare a draft rule based on the principles agreed upon.
· that the subcommittee on Review of Rules would prepare a draft rule based on the principles agreed upon.
6.2. Rule 236(2) and 237(1)
Kgoshi Mokoena proposed that the formal proposal be made in the next Rules meeting.
- that in the next Rules meeting the subcommittee will table a formal proposal.
6.3. Rule 17
The Secretary to the NCOP tabled the document.
Mr Watson stated that he had a problem with the wording in Rule 17(1).
The Chief Whip said the Rules committee dealing with the matter in the context of the NCOP and should understand it as such. He also proposed that the committee notes Mr Watson’s objection.
§ that Mr Watsons’ objection be noted.
6.4 Amendment of Rule 10
The proposal regarding office bearer to act in the absence of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson was tabled, Option 2 (i.e. designate one of the House Chairpersons) was the preferred option.
§ that Option 2 be adopted.
6.5 Introduction of the Three – Day Rule
Ms Oliphant submitted the proposal and indicated that it reflected on the experience that in the past, where some of the reports were withdrawn at the last minute before a debate in the House. She motivated that she believed that if the rules were amended it would give an opportunity for the Presidium to go through the reports and then act accordingly.
· that the proposal be adopted
6.6 Parking for MP’s at the airport
Mr Sulliman raised an issue that members at the
The Chief Whip proposed that the Chairperson takes the issue up with the Secretary to Parliament and that feedback be given by the next Rules Committee meeting or even before the end of the 2006 Parliamentary session.
Ms Terblanche said that there was a problem with the ACSA cards. She said that they could not be used in other airports.
Kgoshi Mokoena gave notice that in the next Rules meeting he would raise an issue that when members travel with their children, children did not enjoy the same benefits as members do. He referred to an incident where he was booked on a business class and his three-year-old son was booked on economy.
The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 12:30 p.m.
Hon. Mr. M J Mahlangu, MP
Chairperson of the NCOP Rules Committee