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NATIONAL COUNCIL OF PROVINCES RULES COMMITTEE
27 FEBRUARY 2007
These minutes were provided by National Council of Provinces Table Staff
Mahlangu, M J (Mr)
Chairperson of the NCOP
Dlulane, B N (Ms)
Provincial Whip: Eastern Cape
Hendricks, N D (Mr)
Kolweni , Z S (Mr)
Provincial Whip: North West
Le Roux, J W (Mr)
Mack, N J (Mr)
Provincial Whip: Western Cape
Matlhoahela, B L (Ms)
Mokoena , L M (Kgoshi)
Chairperson of Subcommittee on Review of Rules
Mzizi , M A (Mr)
Nyanda, F M (Ms)
Provincial Whip: Mpumalanga
Ntuli, C Z (Mr)
Provincial Whip: KwaZulu-Natal
Oliphant, M N (Ms)
House Chairperson: Committees
Qikane, A N D (Ms)
Sulliman, M A (Mr)
Tlhagale, J O (Mr)
Van Rooyen, C J (Mr)
Provincial Whip: Free State
Windvoel, V V Z (Mr)
Chief Whip of the NCOP
Matlanyane, H F (Ms)
Provincial Whip: Limpopo
Terblanche, J F (Ms)
Party Whip: Democratic Alliance
IN ATTENDANCE: Staff: Adv. L L Matyolo-Dube (Secretary to the NCOP); Adv. B V L Momoti; Mr A Mamabolo; Mr B Nonyane; Ms J A Borien; Ms V Mnana; Mr M Nguqu; Ms S Bowers; Ms E van der Horst.
The Chairperson opened the meeting at 09:38.
The apologies are indicated in the table above.
3. ADOPTION OF AGENDA
The agenda was adopted without additions.
4. CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF 1 NOVEMBER 2006
The minutes were adopted as a correct reflection of the meeting of 1 November 2006.
5. MATTERS ARISING FROM THE MINUTES OF 1 NOVEMBER 2006
With reference to point 6.6 on page 8, the Secretary to the National Council Of Provinces reported that she had confirmed with the Office of the Secretary to Parliament that there were no changes in the original arrangements with the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) regarding the parking cards. That the cards do work. She however added that if any member’s card were not working, the staff of ACSA would assist at the gate by re-programming the card. The Secretary indicated that she was also requested to get the names of other airports where the cards were not accepted so that the Secretary to Parliament’s office could facilitate the resolution of the matter.
Mr Ntuli said that members were also experiencing problems with the cards at the Durban International Airport. He had spoken with the staff at the airport and they requested the numbers on the cards. However, the cards were still rejected. The current situation is that members are using the intercom system for assistance.
The Chief Whip stated that the airport in Mpumalanga did not fall under ACSA. He had however talked to the Chief Operations Officer there and they were willing to enter into the same agreement that Parliament has with the Airports Company of South Africa. He added that he had raised the matter with the Office of the Secretary to Parliament but the matter has not yet been finalised.
Mr Van Rooyen responded that members were also experiencing problems at the airport in Bloemfontein.
Mr Sulliman proposed that ACSA be informed about the problems members were encountering as well as the terms of the agreement between them and Parliament in order for members to be allowed to use the parking bays. He suggested that there might be an internal breakdown in communication since most of the airports were averring that Parliament had not made arrangements for members to park in the new parking bays.
The Chairperson requested that the Secretary to Parliament write a letter to ACSA regarding the problems that members were facing. He asked the Secretary to take the matter up with the Secretary to Parliament.
Mrs Dlulane reported that members were told that there was no arrangement between Parliament and the East Londen Airport. Members were therefore using the open spaces in the parking area.
The Secretary responded that there seemed to be a lack of communication between ACSA and ACSA airports across the country, Mpumalanga excluded. She said that in terms of the arrangement between Parliament and ACSA, the cards should be recognised at all ACSA airports as Parliament pays for the tickets. That the cards were supposed to work at all ACSA airports. She said that she would make a follow up and ensure that all ACSA airports recognise the cards.
The Chairperson asked if members from Mpumalanga could claim their parking fees back from Parliament.
The Secretary replied that the affected members could claim back until such time an agreement is in place between Parliament and the Mpumalanga airport.
The Chief Whip responded that such an approach was problematic, as members of Parliament residing in Mpumalanga should enjoy the same privileges as other members. He said that it becomes even more cumbersome if members were to lose their receipts. In such cases members would not be in a position to claim their money back from Parliament.
The Chairperson requested the Secretary to follow up with the Secretary to Parliament in order for the matter to be resolved. He asked the Secretary to provide a report in the Programme Committee meeting if the matter is resolved quickly.
- That the Secretary (NCOP) raise the matter with the Secretary to Parliament.
- That the Secretary to Parliament write a letter to ACSA regarding the problems members are facing in order to resolve the matter.
6. MATTERS ON THE AGENDA
6.1. Finalisation of the Disciplinary Committee
Kgoshi Mokoena reported that the Subcommittee on Review of Council Rules had done its best to fast track the matter. He referred to the minutes of previous meetings and said that all parties agreed to the establishment and need for such a committee.
He said that the only outstanding issue was that parties had to agree on the number of members that would constitute the committee. The Subcommittee tabled its proposal marked Annexure A.
Kgoshi Mokoena referred to Annexure A and said that the first paragraph of the proposal made reference to the section that enables the NCOP to establish the committee.
He emphasised that the Subcommittee was mandated to bring a proposal to the meeting regarding the number of members that should serve on the committee. The Subcommittee proposed that the committee should consist of five members, three from the majority party and two from minority parties. Kgoshi Mokoena reminded the meeting that as a norm, the Chairperson would appoint the chairperson of the standing committee. He added that the proposal also indicated how the committee would function as well as the procedures that would be followed when members were called to account before the committee. It further stipulates how the member is to be notified, what the member is supposed to do after being notified as well as what would transpire during the hearing. In addition, the Subcommittee proposed that the standing committee should allow a member to be represented by another member. However, that the standing committee may allow a member to be represented by an outside legal representative depending on the seriousness of the matter.
Kgoshi Mokoena added that the standing committee and the ethics committee had different mandates. That the issues that would be dealt with by the standing committee were clearly outlined in the Powers and Privileges Act. That it was only the format, procedure and number of members that the Rules Committee now had to agree on. The Subcommittee further proposed that the Rules Committee allow the Chairperson to establish the committee. Kgoshi Mokoena reminded the meeting that the standing committee would merely make recommendations to the Council.
The Chairperson was in agreement that the only matter to be decided on was how the committee would be established. He moved that the committee be established in terms of the Subcommittee’s proposal.
The meeting agreed.
The Chairperson indicated that he would establish the committee as soon as possible.
- That the Chairperson of the NCOP would establish the standing committee in accordance with the proposal of the Subcommittee as set out in Annexure A.
6.2. Progress report from the Task Team on Oversight and Accountability on the Oversight Model
The Chairperson requested a report on the matter.
The Secretary responded in the absence of Mr Setona. She said that Mr Setona had indicated that the final version of the document had not been received from the consultants. That subsequent to the mandate given to him by the NCOP at the workshop, he managed to process almost all of the issues raised by the NCOP.
The Chairperson reminded the meeting that the document on the Oversight Model had been presented in the Programme Committee meeting. That earlier in the year the Rules Committee agreed that the NCOP must have a workshop in order for all members to understand how the Oversight Model would work. That the workshop took place on 16 January 2007 where participants had the opportunity to make inputs on the document.
The Chairperson further stated that subsequent to the workshop, the Task Team had a meeting where they incorporated the inputs from the NCOP. He said that the consultants should have finalised the document. The finalised document would serve before the Joint Rules Committee (JRC) for adoption and implementation.
The Chairperson added that the NCOP had done its part in terms of the document and that it was hoping to receive the final version of the document before it was presented to the JRC the next day.
The Chairperson requested the NCOP not to agree to the document if it were presented to the JRC the next day, as it may not speak to the issues raised by the NCOP.
Mrs Oliphant reported that the Task Team had not finalised the document. She said that they were aiming to finalise the document on the 9th and expressed the hope that the issues raised by the NCOP would be incorporated. She appealed to all NCOP members that serve on the Task Team to attend that crucial meeting.
- That the NCOP would not agree to the adoption of the document if it were to serve before the JRC meeting the next day.
6.3. Proposal regarding the scrutiny of Delegated Legislation
The Secretary reported that Mr Setona requested that the item be put on the agenda. Mr Setona wanted to draw the meeting’s attention to the fact that the NCOP had an obligation in the case of a clash between national and subordinate legislation. That, notwithstanding the process that Parliament as an institution would engage in, the NCOP as a House would have a duty.
The Secretary said that Mr Setona had a few proposals regarding the action the NCOP should take when asked to assist in this matter. That he had proposed that the House should consider establishing its own component, either as a component of the joint body or it should, in light of its constitutional obligation, establish its own component. The Secretary said that she assumed that Mr Setona would table the document himself.
The Chairperson responded that the meeting would be in a better position to consider the proposal if a document was put before it for consideration. The meeting was in agreement to wait for such a document to be tabled before it would discuss the matter.
- That the meeting would consider the proposal once a document is put before it for consideration.
6.4. Leave policy for Members of Parliament
The Chairperson asked political parties to give their inputs.
The Chief Whip reported that the ANC had lengthy discussions on the issue. He said that it was easy for the National Assembly (NA) to be of the view that the issue was a matter to be discussed by political parties. He however said that Parliament was not in a position to have the same regime for both Houses when dealing with the issue of leave. That although there were those instances where political parties might request that members be allowed to attend to political work, this could not be done in isolation of the provincial whips. He said that the NCOP members had come to an agreement on which route to take. That although there had not been 100% agreement, in terms of democracy the majority decision must prevail in dealing with such a matter. That if there were still a political party who wanted to have a bite, the agreement reached by the majority of the parties would have to be adopted.
The Chairperson asked if there was a document from the ANC.
The Chief Whip responded that there was a document that set out the views of all the parties.
The Chairperson requested that the document be presented to the Rules Committee in order to finalise the matter. He then requested the other parties to provide their input on the matter.
Mr Mzizi responded that the IFP was concerned about the definition of leave, whether members would now be entitled to annual, sick and/or maternity leave. That the Secretary to Parliament had to be consulted to find out what was intended with the leave policy for members.
Mr Le Roux said that the DA had discussions but that he had not been part thereof. However, that a report will be provided by either Ms Terblanche or Mr Watson on the matter.
Ms Matlhoahela said that the ID was also not clear on the matter and had concerns similar to the ones Mr Mzizi was raising.
The Chairperson responded that the Secretary to Parliament would not be able to assist the members since the issue of leave for members was a political matter.
Mr Hendricks said that the UIF had not applied its mind to the matter and will agree with what the House decides.
Ms Qikane said that the UDM would have to scrutinise rely the document before taking a decision.
Mr Tlhagale agreed with the Chief Whip that the procedures and conditions in the NCOP differed from those in the National Assembly. He said that the UCDP had not adopted any rigid stance regarding the leave policy. That they are aware that if one wants leave, you have to apply for it. That the UDMs procedures and terms of applying for leave will not necessarily be in conflict with the procedures of the House and that it would as much as possible deal with leave as required by the House.
The Chief Whip stated that the leave policy had been discussed in the provincial whips and multi-party whips meetings. He conceded that there would be issues of common nature for example that there could not be separate regimes governing maternity leave in the two Houses. He said that what was at issue was how procedurally would matters of leave be attended to given the differences of the two Houses. He said that the provincial whips were responsible for processing leave applications. The party leaders take responsibility for party operations but the provincial whips should take responsibility for processing applications to the leave whip. Ultimately, if parties were allowed to govern the processing of leave without the involvement of provincial whips, it would lead to instances where committees or even the House would not be able to function.
The Chairperson responded that Rule 17 was not being applied. He said that members misused the 15-day time period and would return on the 15th day and vanish again. The Chairperson requested the Chief Whip to retrieve the document which was agreed on by all parties and to discuss it in the multi-party whips meeting with the aim to finalise the policy. He said that all parties should make their inputs. He further requested the Chief Whip to table the document to the Rules Committee in order to adopt it in the next Rules Committee meeting.
The Chairperson again referred to Rule 17 and said that he would be bound to apply the rule to some of the members. That a decision would have to be taken on what action could be taken against members who abuse their leave allocation.
The Chairperson requested the House Chairperson and the Secretary to scrutinise all records of committee attendance and House attendance respectively and to provide a report to him within two weeks.
He said that the NCOP would have to deal with the relevant members if their parties were not able to do it. He reminded the meeting that the provinces had sent members to the NCOP and he would also have to report on members’ attendance to the provinces.
He moved that the attendance reports be submitted to him.
The meeting agreed.
The Chairperson added that he would present the report to the Rules Committee and that a decision would be taken regarding action against the relevant members.
- That the Chief Whip retrieve the document which was agreed on by all parties.
- That the document be discussed in the multi-party whips meeting with the aim to finalise the policy.
- That all parties should make their inputs on the document.
- That the Chief Whip table the document at the Rules Committee in order for it to be adopted at the next Rules Committee meeting.
- That the House Chairperson: Committees and the Secretary respectively scrutinise all records of committee attendance and House attendance. That the attendance reports be submitted to the Chairperson within two weeks.
- That the Chairperson would present the report to the Rules Committee and that a decision would be taken regarding action against the relevant members.
6.5. Observer missions of Parliament
The Chairperson requested a report on the item.
The Secretary reported that the matter was outstanding from the JRC and had been included in order for the NCOP to take its own position on the matter. She said that in the last JRC meeting it was decided that parties would submit a document which proposes that observer missions would be entirely accountable to Parliament and that the behaviour of delegates would be under the authority. The Secretary added that the document was contained in the document pack. That from her perspective, the proposal was party-based and does not say how the NCOP would be accommodated.
Mr Sulliman reminded the meeting that a draft resolution regarding the matter had been published on the Order Paper of both Houses the previous year. That the resolution had been adopted by the NCOP but not by the NA as the NA could not reach consensus on the matter.
The Chairperson responded that it was important to remember that observer missions were party –based as the delegations were set on proportionality. He said that it was not a question of each House deciding on a delegation. He however added that he was not sure how each House would be dealing with the matter.
The Chief Whip stated that any parliamentary delegation should be representative of both Houses. He remarked that it has become the norm to choose members from the NA to constitute a parliamentary delegation. That it was problematic for the smaller since their members in the NA would attend for the duration of the five years which means that the NCOP members would not gain any experience or exposure. In addition, these delegations are called parliamentary delegations yet they are representative of only one House of Parliament.
The Chairperson responded that the Chief Whip should raise those points in the JRC meeting.
Mr Ntuli added that the other point was that parties wanted to provide separate reports. That the document further proposes that the leader of the delegation would be responsible for reporting on behalf of the delegation.
Mr Mzizi said this matter became problematic in the hands of parties in the sense that certain members are chosen to go to the troublesome countries whilst other members are chosen to visit affluent countries. He said that a balance should be reached between the two Houses. He added that members tend to want to represent parties even in oversight activities. That when members go to observer missions, the rules are clear in that members have been sent by the state and they are representing the country and not any political party.
The Chairperson said that parties would be welcome to respond to the matter if it came before the JRC.
6.6. Formulation of the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus
The House Chairperson reported that it was agreed in principle to formalise the establishment of the women’s caucus. She said that there was a further proposal to establish a steering committee of five members, three from the majority party and two from the opposition parties. She added that the chairperson of the multi-party women’s caucus would provide a report to the JRC the next day. The House Chairperson further informed that the multi-party women’s caucus used to have a chairperson and a deputy chairperson and that the chairperson was from the majority party and the deputy chairperson from the opposition party.
6.7. Progress report from the Subcommittee on Review of Rules: Joint Rules
The Secretary said that the rules to govern joint sittings also emanated in the JRC. That the Subcommittee on Review of Joint Rules had been mandated to look at rules to govern joint sittings. Its first report was tabled and of interest to the NCOP is that one of the proposals in the report is that representatives of SALGA should not sit in joint sittings. The proposal is also questioning whether representatives of SALGA should be invited to joint sittings. It avers that the constitutional provisions governing SALGA’s participation only relates to the NCOP and not joint sittings.
Mr Sulliman informed the meeting that legal opinion has been sought on the matter and it suggests that members of SALGA are not members of Parliament although they have participatory rights in the NCOP itself. He said that the legal opinion would probably be provided in the JRC meeting the next day.
Kgoshi Mokoena said that the matter had been raised in the last meeting of the Joint Subcommittee on Review of Joint Rules and the NCOP component vehemently opposed the sentiments of the NA members. That the NCOP members were of the view that the legal opinion was one-sided. He said that it was unfair for any person to say that the NCOP was wrong to invite SALGA to be part of a delegation that attends a joint sitting. He further informed the meeting that the NCOP members objected to the report and it would therefore not be tabled as a formal proposal in the JRC meeting.
The Chairperson responded that it was a matter for political debate and that the Rules Committee was probably not the correct forum to discuss the matter.
The Chief Whip was in agreement with the Chairperson but also opined that the NCOP should source its own legal opinion. It was his understanding that South Africa is a unitary country which promotes co-operative governance between its spheres. He stated that if Parliament were to deny the voice of local government it would not be attending to some of the political imperatives to which the country is currently attending.
The Chairperson closed the discussion by saying it was a matter for further debate.
6.8. Proposals by the Subcommittee on Review of Rules: Review of rules 236(2) and 237(1)
Form of a question: Rule 230A
Kgoshi Mokoena said that Rule 236(2) provides that a member is entitled to ask two questions per day. The Subcommittee is proposing that a member be allowed to ask four questions per day. He further added that ministers were expected to answer four questions per day. In this regard, the subcommittee is proposing that ministers be allowed to respond to six questions.
Ms Van der Horst enquired whether the Questions Office would need guidance as to which six questions to put to the ministers.
The Secretary responded that there were guidelines in the Questions Office. That they work on a first come first serve basis. She said that the Questions Office would be using the first six questions but if they were in doubt they would contact the Office of the Chairperson.
It was agreed that the rule be amended as per the proposal of the Subcommittee.
Legislative cycle: Rule 230B
The Subcommittee proposed that the Rules Committee agree to the proposal that rule 230A be inserted with the underlined words as per its proposal.
Mr Sulliman responded that there was already agreement regarding extension of the legislative cycle. However, in practice issues arise which might result in a matter being difficult to resolve. The limit of six weeks might then pose a problem.
The Chairperson referred to the proposed rule and said it does provide for the six- week cycle to be extended.
It was agreed that the rule be amended as per the proposal of the Subcommittee.
Rule 164: Time for consideration of a Bill
The Subcommittee proposed that rule 164A be inserted with the underlined words as per the proposal.
It was agreed that the rule be amended as per the proposal of the subcommittee.
At this time Mr Nonyane brought it to the attention of the Rules Committee that the proposals had been incorrectly numbered and that the rule relating to questions should read Rule 230A and the rule relating to the legislative cycle should be Rule 230B.
6.9. International Study Trips for committees
The Chairperson remarked that it was a matter of concern that some committees were travelling many a time during the five-year period. He said that he would establish a small committee consisting of himself, the House Chairperson responsible for committees and the Chief Whip to consider the matter and provide a report to the Rules Committee.
The House Chairperson responded that the policy on international visits had to be reviewed.
Ms Dlulane requested clarity on how clustered committees were supposed to plan their international visits and draw up their budgets.
The Chairperson responded that the query would be discussed in the small committee but added that committees could not travel on the basis that they were serving more than eight departments.
- That a small committee consisting of the Chairperson, the House Chairperson responsible for committees and the Chief Whip be established to consider the policy on international visits and report to the Rules Committee.
6.10. Parking at the Airport
This agenda item was dealt with under Matters Arising.
6.11. Proposals regarding rules in respect of the receipt and processing of petitions
Kgoshi Mokoena submitted the document entitled “Draft Rules on Petitions” dated 15 February 2007 for consideration and adoption by the Rules Committee. He said that the document proposes the procedure to be used when dealing with petitions. He however proposed that the Chairperson only refer the petition to the Committee on Members’ Legislative Proposals and not to “ or other appropriate committee” as per the draft rule. He motivated the proposal by saying that it should be referred to the relevant committee since the committee rarely has work due to the nature of the business that it is currently mandated to do.
The Chairperson enquired whether this proposal would not warrant the name of the committee to be changed to include petitions. He proposed that the name be amended to be the Committee on Members’ Legislative Proposals and Petitions.
The meeting was in agreement.
The Chief Whip remarked that the NCOP received a lot of petitions especially when it conducts its Taking Parliament to the People programme. The Chief Whip referred to Rule 231(D)(2) which provides that a member may not lodge a petition on his or her own behalf, but another member may lodge such a petition. He sought clarity regarding whether this draft rule was referring to petitions or legislative proposals. The Chief Whip was of the view that the Council could not allow a situation where members petitioned their own House.
Kgoshi Mokoena responded that the Subcommittee had done a comparative study and it was clear that members had many platforms to raise issues.
The Chairperson said that Kgoshi Mokoena’s point was valid. That members had a lot of platforms to raise their issues so it was therefore not clear why members would want to make use of petitions.
The Chief Whip stated that as the draft rule currently stood, it would allow for members to use petitions after exhausting all other platforms.
The meeting therefore did not agree to rule 231(D)(2). The Subcommittee was mandated to relook the draft rule and to report back at the next meeting.
The meeting agreed to the Draft Rules on Petitions, with the exception of rule 231(D)(2).
- That the rules committee adopt the draft rules, with the exception of draft rule 231(D)(2).
- That the Subcommittee relook draft rule 231(D)(2) and provide a report at the next meeting.
- That all petitions be referred to the Committee on Members’ Legislative Proposals.
- That the name of the said committee be amended to the Committee on Members’ Legislative Proposals and Petitions.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting at 11:04 a.m.
Hon. Mr. M J Mahlangu, MP
Chairperson of the NCOP Rules Committee
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