It was unanimously agreed to accept the desirability for the legislative proposal to amend the Remuneration of the Public Office Bearers Act.
The Committee was dismayed to learn that Mrs Kellerman (whose petition for financial assistance the Committee had approved in March 2006 and sent to Treasury) was still awaiting this financial assistance and was about to be put out of her accommodation. A member of the Committee had received calls from attorneys and creditors of Mrs Kellerman but could not explain to them why Parliament was unable to enforce the execution of its decision. He said that Parliament had failed a citizen of this country who came to Parliament for assistance. It made Parliament look very bad. The Committee took a formal decision that the Chairperson again ask the Speaker communicate with the Minister of Finance.
Proposal to Amend the Remuneration of the Public Office Bearers Act
The Acting Chairperson, Mr P Gerber (ANC), announced that the Chairperson had sent an SMS to the effect that a decision should be held in abeyance, but in the meantime to get all the political parties to give written submissions if they wished to add anything to Ms Seaton’s legislative proposal. Most parties had already done their work and he did not see why they should wait until the next meeting to finalise the issue.
Mr H Bekker (IFP) submitted that in terms of unanimity and the decision to abide by the suggestion to postpone, he did not think there was any hindrance to the Committee accepting the desirability of this proposal.
Mr Gerber agreed. The other thing to keep in mind was that it was only a legislative proposal and with his own proposals he was now seeing how the system worked, it took a long time. Time was a luxury they did not have. If the Committee decided today on the desirability, then a report would go to Parliament, it would be tabled there and if Parliament agreed to it there would be a letter to say that the proposal had been adopted and Ms Seaton would then have the right to go and draft the bill properly. Then that had to be printed, Ms Seaton would sign that and then it would be advertised. Thereafter, it would come back to Parliament to be tabled and sent to the appropriate Committee. That Committee could then decide to either throw the bill out or make changes, or adopt it. If the Committee did not take a decision on desirability today they would have to really push to finalise it on 6 June.
Ms Seaton said the parties had all agreed they wanted it; it was the result of years of negotiations on a task team. It represented what all parties were calling for and it should be handled that day.
Adv Z Adhikarie (Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor) indicated that the time frames were very tight. The 2 June was the cut-off point.
Adv P Swart (DA) said there was no obligation on the Committee to consult; they should consult if they saw the need. His impression of the SMS from Ms Mentor was that a decision should be held in abeyance. He had no problem with that. The Committee had to decide on the desirability to proceed. He proposed that the Committee take the decision that it was desirable for the legislative proposal to proceed.
Mr Bekker seconded the proposal.
Ms Seaton said there were still things that needed to be adjusted and that would be done in conjunction with other parties. She saw no reason why they should not still call for further submissions and would be happy to work with a team of members from different parties to ensure that the proposal was drafted exactly as proposed.
Adv Swart commented on submissions. The proposer was free to set up an ad hoc Committee if she wished, but once the Committee had accepted the desirability to proceed, the Committee was finished with it.
Adv Adhikarie asked that the proposer indicate who had been consulted on this before it went to the House to facilitate their work.
Adv P Swart (DA) raised the issue of the Kellerman Petition. He had previously asked that this matter be put on the agenda for serious action. He asked that it be minuted that he had since received a document from Mrs Kellerman that she was about to be put out of her accommodation due to financial problems. In March 2006 this Committee had acceded to her petition and it had been sent to Treasury. The amendment bill to address this had been on the parliamentary programme for 2007, was postponed to this year and was still not in sight. The Committee had requested the Chairperson to address the Speaker on this matter. The Speaker was requested to take it up with the Minister of Finance. They had actually tried to get the Minister to come to the Committee last year.
He continued that Parliament had taken a decision more than two years ago. The Executive’s reluctance to deal with that decision, they were party to it, Treasury presented, but the Minister of Finance now argued that he did not personally know about it. Parliament was now failing a citizen of this country who came to Parliament for assistance. Parliament considered the matter, acceded to the petition and it seemed as if Parliament was just unable to ensure its decisions were being carried out.
He proposed that the Committee again decide that the Chairperson immediately take up the matter again with the Speaker, write a strong letter to the Minister of Finance and ask him to come before the Committee, that this matter be pushed to some position.
He had received calls from attorneys and creditors of Mrs Kellerman but could not explain to them why Parliament took a decision two years previously and was unable to enforce its execution, it made Parliament look very bad. The Committee had always been unanimous about the Kellerman Petition. He asked that the Committee take a formal decision that the Chairperson is urged to immediately deal with this matter through the Speaker, otherwise it would lapse this term.
Mr Gerber agreed that the matter was serious. The petition was adopted by the House so the decision now belonged to the Speaker. It was right that the Chairperson of this Committee engage the Speaker on the issue and the communication must come from the Speaker to the Minister of Finance.
Mr Gerber said next week the Committee would be discussing the Schools Amendment proposals.
Adv Swart requested that next week they also get a status report as to where the Committee was in respect of all legislative proposals - as quite a number of them were on the point of completion.
Mr Gerber agreed and asked the Committee secretary to prepare a status report.
The meeting was adjourned.
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