The Committee could not consider the outstanding submissions because the Parliamentary Legal Advisor was not present in the meeting. Members expressed their displeasure at the poor support provided by the Committee Section, and the House Chairperson undertook to deal with the problem.
Mr Gaum, acting as Chairperson, apologised on behalf of the Chairperson, Mr D Montsintsi, who was absent due to a bereavement in his family.
He recalled that the Committee had gone through most of the public submissions, and that there were only three outstanding proposals that still had to be considered. He requested Parliament’s Legal Office to present the opinions on the outstanding submissions.
Ms Zuraya Adhikarie, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, explained that her colleague, who was responsible for the remaining submissions, would not attend the meeting because she was currently away on study leave.
Mr Gaum registered his strong objection and displeasure with the explanation provided. He recalled that in the previous meeting, the Committee had expressly stated that it intended to consider the remaining submissions today. He commented that the Committee’s time was being wasted, and said that the issue would be pursued further.
Mr Gaum noted that the researcher was supposed to have prepared a document that categorised all the submissions into two groups, highlighting the proposals that required a constitutional amendment and those that did not. He enquired whether such a document was available.
Ms Sueanne Isaac, Parliamentary Researcher, answered in the affirmative.
Mr Gaum observed that Members did not have the document and enquired from the Committee Secretary as to whether she had distributed the document to Members.
Ms Teboho Sepanya, Committee Secretary, indicated that she had forwarded the document to Members. However, when Mr A Watson (DA) disputed this, maintaining that he had received no documents, a document was found by the Committee Secretary.
Mr Gaum scanned through this document and expressed annoyance that it was incomplete.
Mr F Beukman (ANC) expressed irritation with the lack of support provided by the Committee Section. He complained that the confusion around documents was an ongoing problem, and made it difficult for the Committee to process the submissions in a professional manner.
Mr Gaum concurred with his sentiments nd adjourned the meeting so that the matter could be resolved.
During the adjournment, the Head of the Committee Section and the House Chairperson were requested to attend the meeting.
On resumption of the meeting, Mr J Jeffery (ANC) complained that there were too many problems from the Committee Section side at these meetings, including problems regarding notification or documentation. He noted that the requisite document should and could have been circulated to Members, at least by last night, because it was already available yesterday morning. Finally, he stressed that the Committee could not continue to work in this manner and that drastic steps needed to be taken.
Mr Gaum described the situation as chaotic and hoped that the Head of the Committee Section would resolve the problem.
Mr Geoff Doidge, House Chairperson, National Assembly, apologised for the poor support that the Committee Section had rendered to the Committee. He gave an undertaking that he would interact with the Chairperson as well as the management of the Committee Section to rectify this problem as soon as possible.
Mr Gaum thanked Mr Doidge and Ms Zanele Mene, Head: Committee Section, for attending the meeting at such short notice.
The meeting was adjourned.
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