Progress of Committee’s Work : discussions

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Meeting report

13 November 2007

Chairperson: Ms P Mentor (ANC)

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The Chairperson reported back on the meeting held the previous week with the Chair of Chairs, when he had raised complaints by the Programming Cluster relating to perceived lack of progress in this Committee. The IFP Chief Whip had complained about the late tabling of Chief Buthelezi’s proposal. The Committee felt these allegations to be unfair, as it had met every week, and already last term the Committee Secretary had been asked to check with the NA Table where Mr Buthelezi’s proposal was; and many efforts were made to trace it, without response. The Chairperson finally even contacted Chief Buthelezi himself, who had then given her a hard copy of the proposal, on 31 October. The Committee was preparing a full progress report on all matters being dealt with, and would forward that to Mr Doidge by the next day, for presentation to the Programming Cluster by Thursday

The Chairperson noted that Markinor undertook to sample the whole country, using eleven languages. The cost should not be any more than originally estimated. The survey would be done in March and the committee would get the results in June; when it would be able to complete the matter.

Details of the Study Tour scheduled for 22 November to 2 December were discussed.

Progress of work in the Committee

The Chairperson explained that the progress of work in the Committee was raised as a result of correspondence to herself as well as the address to the Committee by Mr Geoff Doidge (Chair of Chairpersons) the previous week, when he raised issues of the Programming Cluster complaining about lack of progress in the Committee. He also noted that the IFP Chief Whip had complained about the late tabling of Hon Chief Mangosutho Buthelezi’s proposal by the committee.

The Committee had met every week and already last term the Committee Secretary had been asked to check with the NA Table where Chief Buthelezi’s proposal was. Many efforts were made to trace the proposal, without response. The Chairperson had even contacted Chief Buthelezi. She was surprised that the Committee was now accused of tabling the proposal late. Chief Buthelezi had given the Chairperson a hard copy of the proposal, but at the end of term it was still not forwarded to the Committee by the Speaker. .

It had been agreed last week that the Committee would draw up a progress report on each matter under consideration, and send that through to Mr Doidge by Wednesday (the following day) so that he could present it to the Programming Cluster by Thursday. Mr Mshudulu, who had been acting as Chairperson at that meeting, had asked the Committee Secretary to prepare a summary of what the Committee had done, but it was felt that the information was very scanty – for instance, where an issue had been discussed in four different meetings only one date was reflected. The Committee Secretary was asked to amplify this with more detail, as it had wrongly created the impression that the Committee was not applying their minds to topics under discussion. She should also record whether the Committee assented to or rejected the proposal. That should be completed today and forwarded to Mr Doidge as a record of what the Committee had done so far. She would also indicate what was on next term’s programme. The fact that Chief Buthelezi’s proposal had been received only on 31 October would also be stated, noting that it had not been tabled before the Committee and could only be officially tabled when the programme was adopted.

The Chairperson explained the difference between consideration, programming and tabling. When an issue was received, the Secretary would table it in a formal meeting of the committee. It must then be programmed, the Committee must agree to the programme, and it would be considered on the date reflected on the programme. There seemed to be confusion in Mr Doidge’s office about that procedure. It should also be borne in mind that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) proposal and the Labour Relations proposal had been withdrawn..

The Chairperson noted that at the end of this meeting she would sign in to the House, but would not stay for the full session so that she would have some time to correct the resumé that was to be sent to Mr Doidge.

The Chairperson noted that since Mr Mshudulu had chaired the meeting with Mr Doidge, she would only be apprised fully of the address by Mr Doidge by way of the Minutes. However, it had been useful to raise issues and concerns and Mr Doidge was happy about the proposed workshop. It was important that Mr Doidge be briefed on outstanding issues from time to time.

Ms Mentor thanked Mr Mshudulu for proposing this meeting. It would help her to be informed for the Programming Cluster; of which she was a member. She was concerned that the complaints by Members presupposed that the Committee was not working. She would attach a covering letter to the resume of the programme that would be sent to Mr Doidge. She felt that it was good that Mr Doidge had raised these things so that they could be cleared.

Ms I Mars (IFP) confirmed what the Chairperson had said. She had spoken to the IFP leader and it was clarified with the Chief Whip that it was not the Committee that was stalling in this instance. The matter was now understood.

Study Tour to Brazil
The Chairperson said that the procedures in regard to the Brazil study tour had been rectified.
Details of the study tour scheduled for 22 November to 2 December were discussed.

Floor Crossing Proposal: Update
The Chairperson reported that she had had a meeting with Markinor. They had been estimating costs, the Committee had asked for time lines, and there was also the issue of languages. Markinor would normally use English for the survey, and translate, which was not acceptable to Parliament. They had undertaken to sample the whole country using eleven languages. The format of the questionnaire was also discussed. The main issue would be whether to improve the current floor crossing mechanisms or scrap them completely. The introductory statement or question would be educational about the issue of floor crossing in Parliament and would conclude in a way that gave room for recommendations.

The costs were not expected to rise beyond what had been estimated, and Markinor could rather taper down the questionnaire to suit the cost. She reported that Mr Rhoda, Committee researcher, would fax the questionnaire by the first week in December; the survey would be done in March and the Committee would get the results in June; which meant that the matter could be completed in June. Further interaction was needed only to approve the questionnaire. It was agreed that the timing was right, as there was no floor crossing looming.

The Chairperson concluded by thanking Members for their cooperation and wished all a peaceful festive season and safety for them and their families.

The meeting was adjourned.



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