The opposition parties refused to discuss the draft Committee Report, as they had received it late. They also questioned the status of the draft report as it contained findings that had been drawn up by the parliamentary staff and not by the Members themselves. The ANC chairpersons and committee members stated that there was nothing wrong with the procedure as it was a draft report.
It was eventually agreed to postpone the deliberations until the following day to allow Members time to study the draft report.
Ms P De Lille (ID) asked why Members had received the draft Committee Report so late, as it was suppose to have been sent on 3 February 2009 already. She noted that it was unacceptable that the document had not been sent a week in advance as agreed.
Mr Y Carrim (ANC) apologised for the late delivery of the draft report and said that political parties were not obliged to vote on the report immediately. He noted that the parliamentary staff aligned to the Justice Portfolio Committee had been swamped with work, especially important legislation such as the Review on the Criminal Justice System, the Cross-Border legislation and the Constitution Sixteenth Amendment Bill. He said that he had informed the Chairpersons about this. He suggested that the Chairpersons adjourn the meeting to allow political parties time to study the draft report and that a multiparty sub-committee be formed to discuss the report first.
Mr T Delport (DA) said that he did not agree with the content of the report. The report contained several deficiencies that made a mockery of the parliamentary process, as it undermined the opposition. He stated that he refused to participate in the discussion.
Mr K van der Merwe (IFP) said that it was useless debating the report, as the committee process had been flawed from the beginning. He accused the ANC of steamrolling the process by ignoring the opposition and affirming the decision taken by the President. He said that he felt like a fool and would not allow the ANC to coach him into participating in a farce.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) said that he had a problem with the drafting of the draft report, as the remarks of the opposition had been clumped together. He said that he could not participate in the discussion, as the report was flawed.
Ms de Lille said that it was unacceptable for Committee staff to make findings without the input from political parties. She asked whether the ANC had allowed the staff to make these findings and whether they were political appointees. She said that Members of Parliament were elected by the South African public and not appointed by the State. Parliamentary staff did not have a mandate to make findings on any report without the input of the Committee.
Mr O Moraneng (ANC) said that the report was just a draft and thus not final. He noted that the co-chairpersons had seen the draft report and had found no problem with it. The ANC had not influenced the parliamentary staff to subject themselves to the ANC’s viewpoint, as it was expected of the opposition to play an active part in the parliamentary process. He called on Members to apply their minds on the draft report.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC) commented that the co-chairpersons should not allow the opposition to mislead them. He said that the opposition wanted to engage on selective topics that frustrated the process. He called on the co-chairpersons to make a ruling.
Mr Delport said that he did not have a major problem with the content of the draft report, but with the status thereof. He had a problem with the finding made by parliamentary staff in concluding that the Committee had endorsed the decision taken by the President to axe the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Vusi Pikoli. He noted that he had not voted on any finding that endorsed the decision taken by the President.
Mr R Tau (ANC, Eastern Cape) replied that the status of the document was that it was a draft report and not a final report. He said that the opposition parties should not attempt to delay the process further.
Mr Carrim said that parliamentary staff did not have the authority to make findings and said that all such questions had to be posed to the co-chairpersons. He noted that the parliamentary researchers had been hesitant to write the report, as it was very politically sensitive.
He asked why his suggestion to convene a multi-party subcommittee had not been accepted as it would have assisted the process. He noted that the co-chairpersons had received and read the draft report. The ANC was doing the opposition a favour by including their remarks in the report. It was not the practice, internationally to include the remarks of opposition parties. He also asked whether the Committee was still within the ’30 day’ timeframe for approving the President’s decision as stipulated in the National Prosecuting Authority Act.
The Parliamentary Legal Advisors (PLA) said that they were not limited to the ’30 day’ period as the National Prosecuting Authority Act provided for a reasonable extension.
Mr A Nyambi (ANC) suggested that the co-chairpersons endorse the proposal to reconvene the meeting on 11 February 2009.
Mr A Moseki (ANC, North West) supported the motion to postpone the meeting until 11 February 2009, as it would allow Members to apply their minds to the draft report.
Mr B Khompela (ANC) said that more time was needed to study the draft report and supported the motion.
Mr van der Merwe said that he also supported the motion; otherwise the Committee would never conclude the process which could result in legal action.
Mr Monareng said that it was important to finalise the process and not delay it even more. He said Members had to ‘confront the report head-on’ so that a decision could be determined.
Mr Delport said that the opposition would be forced to draft a minority report that would be made available at a press conference if the ANC did not adhere to the requests of the opposition.
Mr Tau said that he was puzzled at how the opposition had approached the process. He said that the opposition formed one bloc, which was in opposition to the ANC bloc and this stifled the multi-party parliamentary process. There should not be a minority report, as the opposition had participated in the process. He said that the opposition should not ‘dilute the character of the Committee’.
Kgoshi Mokoena said that he agreed that political parties needed more time to study the report. He appealed to opposition political parties to participate in the process.
Mr Monareng ruled that the next meeting would take place on 11 February 2009 and adjourned the meeting.
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