The Portfolio Committee met to receive a briefing by the Department of Defence and the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) on the National Conventional Arms Control Amendment Bill [B45 – 2008] in a public meeting, whilst the presentation by the NCACC on its 2007 Annual Report would not be open to the public. The political heads did not arrive as requested but had sent officials. The Committee expressed it dissatisfaction with the failure of the political heads of the Department to arrive, as well as the absence of the Chair or Deputy Chair of NCACC, noting that it was not the first time the political heads of the Department had failed to appear before the Committee when summoned. After a brief discussion, the meeting was postponed to the 12 August.
The Chairperson opened proceedings by expressing his disappointment at the failure of the Department of Defence to send its political heads as requested and the additional failure of both the Chair and Deputy Chair of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) to present the NCACC’s 2007 Annual Report. He noted that the political heads of the Department had failed to appear before the Committee on several previous occasions and that the NCACC Annual Report should be presented by the Chair or Deputy Chair not delegated officials. Nor was this the first incident of uncooperative or non-procedural behaviour from the Department. He noted that the Defence Amendment Bill had been withdrawn by the Department and replaced with an amended bill that had not even been tabled in Parliament. The Military Discipline Bill had not been tabled in Parliament either.
Mr M Booi (ANC) stated he agreed with the sentiments expressed by the chair, noting that the Bills could be processed and passed only with departmental co-operation. Consequently, the lack of cooperation meant that today’s meeting was a waste of taxpayer’s money.
Dr G Koornhof (ANC) said that there were several issues before the Committee and that they needed to be separated. He agreed that the NCACC Report should be presented by the Chair or Deputy Chair, a report of that nature could not be left to officials.
It was suggested that the Committee deal with the issues in the Bill on an informal basis, whilst noting its reluctance and express objection of the failure of the political heads of the Department to appear.
Dr Koornhof said that he had not see a copy of the Military Discipline Bill and the amended Defence Bill did not cover the same issue as the original.
Mr L Diale (ANC) said that the situation was unacceptable. To postpone the meeting until the political heads appeared, was a very serious matter. He said that if they continued the meeting it would send a message that in future, meetings would proceed regardless of their non-appearance
The Chair announced that the meeting would be postponed and that a request for a meeting on the 12 August at which the political heads would be expected to appear, would be tabled.
The meeting was adjourned.
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