A short meeting was held during which Members considered the minutes of previous meetings and draft reports.
The Chairperson noted that he had been asked by the Speaker of parliament to respond, on her behalf, to an application in which the Poverty Network Forum was suing the Speaker over the issue of demarcations.
A Member also asked the chairperson to clarify the issue of salary increments for councilors.
Adoption of Committee Minutes
The Chairperson noted that a number of Minutes of previous meetings still required to be approved. He tabled a batch of outstanding minutes for the Second Term of 2008, another for the Third Term of 2008 and another with the outstanding minutes of the fourth and first terms of 2008. He asked that any errors of fact be identified. The correction of grammatical errors would be left to the Secretary of the Committee.
All minutes were passed as a correct record of the proceedings, without any amendments on facts, but with a few typographical or grammatical corrections.
Adoption of Committee Reports
The Chairperson noted that Members had received the Reports that still required to be adopted.
He asked how traditional leaders should be addressed. He and Members agreed that a uniform form of address should be used. The Chairperson said that it was proper that they be addressed as Inkosi and not as Chief, and that the traditional leaders preferred the term “Nkosi”. He also asked that the full and correct name for what was commonly referred to as the “Nhlapo Commission” should be obtained.
Ms T Nwamitwa-Shilubana (ANC) also pointed out that the there were a number of instances where her name had been incorrectly spelt, in both the Report and the Minutes.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) started to raise one issue contained in the report but the Chairperson asked him to discuss this with the Committee Secretary, as it did not relate to an error of fact.
The Report was adopted.
Court action involving Poverty Network
The Chairperson told Members that he had been asked by the Speaker of Parliament to respond, on her behalf, to a Court application against the Speaker by a group called Poverty Network Forum over the issue of demarcation of boundaries. He said the issues that the Poverty Network Forum raised resulted from a Bill passed in Parliament, and that the Chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee had also been asked to prepare an affidavit. The issue of demarcation fell under this Committee. He was unaware of when the case was likely to come before the Courts.
Mr M Sonto (ANC) asked what was the likely impact of the court challenge and whether the Chairperson had liased with the Minister on the issue.
The Chairperson responded that the Minister himself was the best person to answer on the impact of the Court application. He added that he was also making efforts to have the Minister meet the Committee but could not at the time tell whether this would happen.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) asked which speaker had been challenged in the Court.
The Chairperson responded that it was the current Speaker who was being cited by the Poverty Network Forum. He added that it was the standard procedure that when an official inherited an office, the assets and liabilities would be taken over.
The Chairperson asked for, and received confirmation from Members that they would have no objection to him speaking on their behalf should he manage to arrange a meeting personally with the Minister.
Salary increments for Councillors
Mr W Doman (DA) asked the Chairperson to clarify the issue of salary increments for the councillors. He said the notice that had been issued dealt with metros only, and not the smaller Councils, and he was not sure whether all councils were to be included. He also said that Paragraph 10 of the notice was badly formulated, as it could be read as suggesting that the salary increases reflected all grades. Mr Doman said that this would not make sense, as then the Mayor of a small town would be earning equivalent to the mayor of Cape Town. He also asked the Chairperson to ask the Minister about the R120 000 political allowance that had been suggested for councilors. He added that he had also spoken to South African Local Government Association (SALGA), who were disappointed that the issue that they had raised on appointment of Chief Whips for metros was still complicated.
The Chairperson said he had met a delegation from Johannesburg, who were piloting a project on the oversight work of the Committee, and this delegation also had highlighted the restrictive nature of legislature around appointment of the whip. This delegation had asked why it was not possible to go ahead and appoint a Whip, if the metro could afford it, instead of discussing the issue with the Minister. The Chairperson believed that the issue of the Whip may have to wait until the next parliament, which may debate and make the necessary changes.
The Chairperson remarked that he was not sure whether Members would meet again before the end of the Parliamentary term and commented that he would like to have a closing function, if sponsorship could be obtained, and that any Members with any suggestions as to the form of the function should approach him.
The meeting was adjourned.