The Committee discussed their programme for 2008/9 and the Committee Budget for the year 2008/9 but no decisions were taken as there was a lack of a quorum. Members talked about the budget for the proposed study tour to Germany and France. Topics raised included the racial tensions that existed at South African tertiary institutions and the xenophobic attitudes prevailing in South Africa that threatened foreign nationals.
The Chairperson said that although the Committee had to discuss the committee programme and budget, the Committee could not make any final decisions because they did not have a quorum.
Concerning the contents of the programme attached to the budget, the Chairperson drew the attention of the Committee to the Limpopo public hearings that were to be held on the June 20 2008, and the proposed study tour to Germany and France.
One of the public submissions requested that the name of the Sepedi language be changed to Sesotho SaLebua. He said that the Committee could seek the help of the Pan South African Language Board and the “Culture Commission”. The hearings would be publicised as much as possible.
Mr A Gaum (ANC) suggested that the Committee support staff should initiate the process of planning for the study tour by consulting with the relevant bodies, working on logistics and performing the necessary research.
The Chairperson said that the Committee still had to finalise study tour documentation for the Office of the Chairperson of Chairpersons that had objected to the proposed budget of the study tour. The reason for the objection was the monetary amount required for the study tour. He suggested that the budget could be scaled down.
Mr Gaum asked if the whole Committee could be accommodated within the study tour budget, and how many people were expected to go on the study tour.
The Chairperson replied that 15 people, including the support personnel, could go.
Mr Gaum suggested that the Committee could select 7 Members from the ANC and 4 from opposition parties.
Mr C Burgess (ANC) suggested that the study tour budget of R3, 033 000.00 could be reduced by a third, and that would lower the amount substantially. He felt that the reduction would give the Committee space to convince the Chair of Chairpersons to provide enough funds.
The Chairperson agreed with the suggestion, failing which they would revert to accepting half of the original figure.
Mr F Beukman (ANC) said that the sub-committee dealing with the study tour should look at times and dates that would suit the hosts.
The Chairperson then suggested that the Committee discuss the racial tensions amongst the student population at institutions of higher learning. He wondered how best to infuse and engender the fundamentals of the Constitution. The first way would be to collaborate with the Portfolio Committee on Education. The members from both Committees could visit the affected educational institutions. That could serve as a gesture by the two Committees, towards solving the problem. Another way would be to distribute copies of the Constitution. The Committee could seek advice from the South African Human Rights Commission.
Mr Beukman suggested the inclusion of xenophobia as an agenda item when the Committee undertook the proposed study tour, because Germany and France had dealt with that problem. He felt that the majority of the South African population had not yet internalised the Bill of Rights.
Mr Gaum concluded by suggesting that the Committee should set up a meeting with the South African Human Rights Commission.
Mr Burgess raised his concern that the Committee was not getting the attention it deserved. He observed that the Committee itself might be responsible for the state that it was in.
Mr Burgess then commented on xenophobia, saying that it was not an entirely South African phenomenon. Xenophobia had raised its head in many different guises internationally, in France, Germany, Malaysia and Britain. He suggested that the Committee should include it in its study tour agenda so as to get ideas on how other countries had dealt with the problem.
Mr Beukman highlighted examples from Germany, Malaysia, France and Asia.
The Chairperson also came up with the example of xenophobia during the era of the former Prime Minister of Britain, Ms Margaret Thatcher.
The meeting was adjourned.
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