Van Der Merwe’s Fifteenth Constitution Amendment Bill (Floor Crossing): approval

Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions

20 February 2008
Chairperson: Ms P Mentor (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee formally accepted the proposal that floor crossing be scrapped and it was resolved that the Chairperson write a concluding report to the Speaker and necessary Committees. It was no longer necessary to proceed with any surveys as public opinion had been quite clear. The Chairperson would formally issue a media statement, and some discussion was held whether she should, in that statement, indicate that the Committee was busy with other matters.

The draft programme for the first term was discussed and adopted. The Committee report on Brazil would be circulated and discussed.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed all to the first meeting of the year, and extended the Committee’s condolences to Mr Magwanishe on the passing of his sister. She also introduced the new secretary, Ms Vuyokazi Makobalu.

Van der Merwe’s Fifteenth Constitutional Amendment Bill: Abolition of Floor Crossing
The Chairperson reminded Members that this matter was put in abeyance until after the ANC Conference at Polokwane. That Conference had clearly indicated that it was no longer in favour of allowing floor crossing, and public opinion was the same. She thanked Members for the spirit in which they had dealt with the matter and noted that throughout the lengthy deliberations Members had acted in the best interests of the country and avoided party politics. Although the Committee had previously indicated that it wished to undertake a public survey, she did not think this was necessary any longer, taking into account the ANC view and the public opinion expressed on the issue. 

Mr G Magwanishe (ANC) thanked the Committee for their support during the family’s recent bereavement.
He proposed that the Committee accept the desirability that floor crossing be abolished and the Constitutional provisions in this regard repealed, and suggested that the matter proceed through the normal channels by writing a concluding report to the Speaker to forward to the relevant Committees.

Mr H Bekker (IFP) seconded the proposal and urged that it was clearly time to conclude the matter.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) suggested that the Researcher be asked to draw all the Minutes, to summarise the path taken by the Committee, as a supporting document.

Mr Bekker proposed that the Committee should not proceed with any surveys.

Mr A Ainslie (ANC) remarked that this was a very significant decision. The matter attracted huge public interest and media attention right from the outset throughout the past few years. He proposed that the Chairperson issue a statement about this important decision, noting that the proposal would now go to other institutions of Parliament.

The Chairperson indicated that she would do so.

The matter was formally concluded by the proposal to abolish floor crossing being supported.

Draft Programmes – First and Second Terms
The draft programme for the first quarter was read out by the Chairperson. She indicated that there were critical proposals to be taken.

In summary, the Committee would be undertaking strategic planning in February for the period until the end of the Parliamentary term. There was a possibility that the Committee meet twice a week.

Other issues included the proposal for amendments of the Transnet Pension Fund Act. The sponsor had not been available yet, and the matter could be considered in his absence. It must be concluded by the second week in March so that it could go through the budgetary process.

Hon Chief Buthelezi had, during the course of last year, brought a proposal to change the Executive system. This matter, which had been delayed, would be taken first and was likely to generate much public interest.

The Civil Citizen’s Remuneration package for public representatives would also be considered before June.

The Chairperson asked that Members try to attend meetings regularly and punctually. The Committee would try to deal with as many matters as possible in the first two quarters.

Mr P Gerber (ANC) informed the Chairperson that in relation to the item listed for the second term, dealing with St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown, there were four related bills. This was similar to the proposal made last year in relation to the church legislation and it should be dealt with quickly.

Mr Mshudulu suggested that the Committee communicate with all the churches that appeared before it. 

The Chairperson asked the Committee if, included in her statement about floor crossing, she should also mention that the Committee was dealing with other proposals, particularly that of Chief Buthelezi, or if she should rather wait for the Order Papers to make this public. There was likely to be discussion.

Mr Mshudulu did not think it should be discussed yet and suggested the Parliamentary procedure take its normal course.

Mr Ainslie held another view. He pointed out that Chief Buthelezi’s proposal was already before Parliament and he would support building the profile of this Committee as other Members of Parliament did not fully appreciate the work of this Committee. He fully supported getting the attention of the public.

He asked whether the programme covered the unfinished business that was referred to in Mr Doidge’s meeting with the Committee last year, which for some reason had not gone through the Parliamentary process in time.

The Chairperson summarised that on Friday the Committee would consider the proposal around the Transnet Bill. She would meet with Mr Doidge on Tuesday and further clarify the way forward.

Ms I Mars (IFP) agreed that the announcement on floor crossing was important. Although she agreed that it was important to raise public profile and keep the public informed about the Buthelezi proposal, perhaps this should be done separately.

The Chairperson stated that if she was asked what else was before the Committee, she could give the broad outline of the Buthelezi proposal but indicate that it had not yet been discussed.

Mr Mshudulu sounded a note of caution. He mentioned that there was still some question around procedure.

The Chairperson responded that the office of Chief Buthelezi was in communication with the Chair as to his attendance. She indicated that any statements would profile both the proposer and the work of the Committee.

The programme for the first quarter was adopted.

Brazil Report
Mr Mshudulu asked whether the Committee would be discussing the draft Brazil report. He requested a copy.

The Chairperson indicated that she had approved of the report, and that it would be tabled and a debate held; even those who did not attend could debate the issues. 

Ms Mentor requested that the Committee Secretary write a formal letter to Transnet to attend, and put their arguments before the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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