Social Development Committee Programme & Oversight Visits: discussion

Social Development

19 August 2008
Chairperson: Advocate M Masutha (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered its Programme for the Third Term of Parliament, which included oversight visits to Distell, British American Tobacco and all nine provinces.

The Committee’s recent study tour to Brazil was reflected upon. The Chairperson considered the visit to be a success. Members however raised concerns around the logistical planning and preparedness of the trip and expressed their dissatisfaction at the Chairperson’s lack of proper planning, for which he apologized.

Meeting report

Committee Study Tour to Brazil
According to the Chairperson the primary agenda of the meeting would be to welcome all those who had gone to Brazil. The trip was a success and he acknowledged all the support that the Committee had received. The Committee Secretary had drafted a letter which he felt expressed the sentiments of the entire committee.

Ms Zola Vice, Committee Secretary, read the letter which expressed the Committee’s gratitude for the kind gesture and hospitality they were shown on their visit. The Committee was also thankful to all the sponsors who made the trip to Brazil possible as it allowed the Committee to compare the social challenges faced in Brazil with those of facing South Africa. These included substance abuse, social challenges and especially those affecting the youth.

The Chair indicated that the letter was still in draft form and that language and technical amendments would still be added. The content of the letter was however fine.

Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) added that the letter was indeed well written. He requested that the Committee Secretary print out all the costs that were incurred, as those would have to be declared. The sooner that was done, the better.

Committee Programme
Stellenbosch and Distell visit
The Chair stated that there would be training for the members of the ANC, and in light of this, the committee programme would have to be handled in a way which could still facilitate outstanding visits to Stellenbosch and DISTELL. The purpose of those visits was to allow the Committee to see how the alcohol was made so as to better assess the social impact of such industries which in many cases has been found to have a destructive impact on young people, and thus a negative impact on society.

British American Tobacco visit
Another visit which was to be planned would be to BAT, the tobacco industry. These trips could be covered by the remaining flight vouchers that Members had left, and they would all be able to come to Cape Town and make themselves available.

Black Sash Workshop invitation
Ms H Weber (DA) mentioned that one of he documents which had been handed out was an invitation to a Black Sash Workshop. She added that this did not specify a venue, but, as the Chair pointed out, the invitation suggested that it would take place in Cape Town. Members would have to indicate whether they would be attending the workshop.

Ms S Rajbally (MF) indicated that she could not avail herself at that time because her main focus would be on her constituency, especially in view of the upcoming elections.

Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) added that Members should not simply forfeit their parliamentary duties because of commitments to their constituency.

Provincial visits
The Chair then went on to add that the committee would have to arrange to visit all 9 provinces, and as initially proposed, all Members where to go on these trips but the total costs of all of this would have amounted to R855 000.These was unrealistic as the balance in the committee account was at the time R180 000.According to the revised proposal however, 3 groups of members would visit 3 provinces each over a period of 1.5 weeks.

The trips would involve visits to the coastal regions, which include the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KZN, as well as inland regions of the Free State, Northern Cape and North West. Lastly there would be the platteland areas such as Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. This would all in effect reduce the amount of flying that would need to take place and decrease the costs which would total to only R173 000. Parliamnet had rejected the previous proposal which seemed unreasonable and the Committee hoped that the revised proposal would be successful.

Mr L Nzimande (ANC) added that he was reluctant to commit himself to this as his priorities lied within the upcoming election.

The Chairperson pointed out that on the 16 – 18 September there would be parliamentary sittings at Bushbuck Ridge in Mpumalanga as part of Parliament’s “Taking Parliament to the people” campaign. This would be done in an attempt to identify the areas of concern in this region and thus an oversight programme would be conducted in this area.

Brazil oversight visit
He apologized profusely for the hiccups that were encountered by some of the Committee Members in Brazil which was due to a lack of support, communication and understanding. It came to light that some Members had not received their vaccinations and were stuck at the airport in undesirable conditions. He called for the political management and the administrative management to be improved.

Mr Morwamoche stated that, with all due respect to the Chairperson, the best way would be to address one issue at a time which could then be thoroughly addressed.

Ms M Gumede (ANC) agreed and added that issues that needed to be addressed included the fact that two researchers were taken along, when Parliament was reluctant to pay for one.

The Chair responded that when the new researcher was appointed, she was asked whether she was familiar with the workings of the Committee and whether she would cope on the visit. She agreed. However as the plane was boarding it turned out that both the former researcher and the new researcher were present. The new researcher had consequently left and had asked the management of Parliament for a written explanation as to the confusion that had occurred.

Ms Rajbally added that this was a cause of concern because the delegation list for the Brazil trip was given to the Chairperson to check that all the necessary requirements were met, such as vaccinations.

The Committee Members present expressed their dissatisfaction at the Chairperson and how he did not seem to be taking responsibility for what went wrong on the trip. An argument ensued. Due to time constraints the Chair apologized for the mismanagement on his part and  subsequently moved on to allocating Members to regions for the visits to the provinces.

The Chair stated that the aim of the Committee at this stage was to arbitrarily split up the provinces and this would require flexibility from the Members. Each delegation would be required to come up with a proposal which would have to be finalized by Friday 29 August .The leaders of the delegations – who would co-ordinate the travel arrangements and finalise the delegation lists - would be the Chairperson for the inland area, who would be accompanied by Ms I Direko (ANC), Ms Hlongwane and Ms Gumede.

The platteland group would be led by Ms D Morobi (ANC) and the coastal region would be led by Mr. B Solo (ANC). It was agreed that the routes which would be taken would be worked out at a later stage.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Present

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