Non-attendance by Minister of Mineral Resources; Decision on Inquiry into state capture
21 February 2018
Chairperson: Mr S Luzipho (ANC)
The Portfolio Committee on Minerals Resources met in order to question the Minister of Mineral Resources about his possible involvement in State Capture. However, two days previously the Chairperson had received a letter stating that the Minister would be unavailable to appear before the Committee. In response to the Chairperson’s correspondence pointing out the importance of the meeting and the possibility of adjusting the time, the Minister indicated that he had to appear before the NCOP and later attend a Cabinet Committee meeting on the same day.
The Chairperson had, therefore, decided to utilise the meeting to discuss the way forward in the light of the Minister’s repeated non-attendance since October 2017. Members were frustrated by the actions of the Minister and, especially, the flimsy and possibly untrue, reasons for being unable to attend meetings even when the Minister himself had set the date for the meeting. Discussions were sometimes confusing, even to the Chairperson, as Members tried to find a way forward that would not set undue precedents but would take the work of the Committee forward. The Chairperson was conscious of perceptions that the Committee was avoiding its responsibilities.
The Chairperson noted that events had been set in motion following a letter from the House Chairperson instructing the Committee to question the Minister on his possible involvement in state capture. The Committee should then decide, based on the Minister’s response, as to whether a formal inquiry was necessary. The parliamentary legal services had been requested to attend the meeting to provide legal advice in terms of the processes that the Committee might wish to consider.
The Committee discussed the possibility of subpoenaing the Minister to appear before the Committee, initially being in favour of the proposal. Members debated whether to commence the process of setting up an inquiry even as they waited for the subpoena to be issued to the Minister as the process had been delayed for months. That line of discussion revealed that the Minister could be expected to react negatively to a subpoena when the Committee had already determined to set up an inquiry.
As the Committee discussed the processes and implications of a formal inquiry and the obligation on those who appeared at the hearing to be truthful, Members began discussing the possibility of moving towards an enquiry without delay. The Chairperson pointed out that the Minister had already made on appearance before the Committee. It was the dissatisfaction with his answers to Members’ questions, his evasive manner of responding, and the fact that Members had more questions that had led to the attempt to get the Minister to appear a second time. Members came to the realisation that further attempts along those lines might be fruitless, even if the Minister did make an appearance.
The Committee finally decided that the way forward lay in setting aside efforts to question the Minister again and to commence with preparations for a formal inquiry. The Committee resolved to meet the following week to determine the scope, content and technical details of the inquiry.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting. On behalf of the Committee, he noted with shock that five policemen and a retired soldier had lost their lives at the Ngcobo police station (Eastern Cape), and a number - possibly five - had been injured. It was a sad moment when those who were supposed to be protecting the nation, become victims of the violence against which they were protecting the nation. The Committee extended condolences to the victims of the attack. He also offered condolences to the two mine workers who had lost their lives at Sibanye-Stillwater's Kloof mine in Carletonville in a tragic mine incident. He also expressed gratitude to the rescue workers at Beatrix Sibanye-Stillwater Mine who had rescued almost 950 miner workers who almost lost their lives on what could have been a very dark day. He noted that there had been an increase in such incidents and that the Committee would need to address the matter. It was rare that a single fatality occurred. He added that the recent tragedies occurred almost on the anniversary of the Lily Vantage Mine disaster of 2016.
There had been a bit of relief with the intervention of the Presidency to find an amicable solution to the disputed Mining Charter. It would move things forward in the industry. The Chamber of Mines had decided to put its court application in abeyance. In his interaction with the Chamber of Mines, he had personally committed to ensuring full participation of all stakeholders in the development of the revised Mining Charter.
The Chairperson welcomed the new EFF Member to the Committee, Mr T Rawula. The Committee was a very robust one, and he was sure that Mr Rawula would make a meaningful contribution. While he had disagreed with Mr Mokoena, the previous EFF representative, they had meaningful engagements, and he had made good contributions in the Committee. He noted that EFF members frequently changed so he assumed that they followed the adage that the Members should not get too familiar with the enemy. He informed Mr Rawula that the Committee would appreciate his input.
The Chairperson welcomed the legal services, noting that their assistance would be required in the finalisation of the budget. Sometimes the legal services were, unfortunately, not familiar with the matter at hand or the background. He hoped that the Legal Advisors did have a background in the matters that the Committee was dealing with as the Committee had worked with Adv Jenkins and had been looking forward to grilling him on his own legal advice.
Non-attendance by Minister of Mineral Resources
The Chairperson said there was only one item on the agenda. The item was the finalisation of the questions to the Minister and to determine the way forward. The Minister was not at the meeting. To keep things simple, The Chairperson explained that he had received two letters. The first letter from the Minister’s PLO regretted that Minister Zwane would not be able to appear before the Committee as he would be answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during the scheduled time of the Committee sitting. He requested a date the following week. The Chairperson had gone through the scheduled meetings of the NCOP and noted that the NCOP was not sitting on 21 February. In his reply the Chairperson pointed out that the Committee had asked the Minister to appear on 14 February 2018, but the Minister had indicated that he was writing exams on the said date. The Minister had suggested the date of 21 February 2018. The meeting should have received high priority due to the many previous postponements. He had indicated that he would table the Minister's letter for the consideration of the Committee at the meeting of 21 February 2018 and the Committee would revert to him with a suggested date and the way forward. Subsequently, another letter, addressed to Ms Ayanda Boss, the Committee Secretary, had been received. The letter acknowledged the notice sent by the Committee for the Minister to appear before the Committee on 21 February 2018. It was, however, stated that Minister Zwane would not be able to appear before the Committee on the said date as he was attending a meeting of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings and after that a special Cabinet Committee meeting. The Minister tended his apology with a commitment to attend the following week. The date would be communicated to the Committee in due course.
The Chairperson had discussed the matter with the House Chairperson who had felt that the Committee had to find a way to deal with the matter. The Chairperson recapped events. The Committee had invited the Minister on 24 October 2017 and subsequently on 1 November but the Minister had indicated that he was sick. The Committee had decided on 24 January 2018 as a follow-up date, but it was unable to meet owing to Member training. The date had been moved to 14 February, but the Minister was writing exams and had suggested meeting on 21 February 2018. That had led to the letter which tended the Minister’s apologies and suggested a date the following week. When the Chairperson had asked the House Chairperson for his advice, he had said that it was up to the Committee.
The Committee Chairperson wondered if the Committee could find an alternative way to move forward while dealing with the appearance of the Minister before the Committee. He put the matter to the Committee.
Mr J Lorimer (DA) stated that it was totally unacceptable. It seemed that the Minister was dodging. He had appeared before the Committee to answer one round of questions during which Mr Lorimer had found him quite evasive. He needed to be subpoenaed to appear before the Committee. However, Mr Lorimer suggested that the Committee move the process forward. Members had been discussing essentially how to deal with the matter, and he proposed that the Committee move towards a fully-fledged inquiry into state capture in the Department of Mineral Resources along the lines of that being conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) stated that the Portfolio Committee had done its job. The ball was not in its court anymore. The Committee should move ahead to the point where the Committee pursued its task. The task was to maintain oversight in order to keep the Executive responsible. The Executive would account for the way that he was supposed to respond to people's issues. The Committee should not waste any time and subpoena Minister Zwane to attend a meeting on a specific date in the following week. The Committee had to agree and had to apologise to South Africans. It was not the making of the Committee that matters had reached a point where the Committee could not proceed. The Members wanted to proceed and to deliver the people’s issues at any given time. The Committee was ready. Members were earning their salaries and were keen to question the Minister the following week. There was no other option than a subpoena.
Mr H Schmidt (DA) remarked that the Minister was running faster than his Gupta friends were running. On the 24th or 26th November, the Minister had indicated that due to an illness, he was unable to attend. It later transpired that he had attended an appointment shortly before that particular date. So, he clearly had been untruthful in the reason why he had been unable to attend on that date. From the letter, it was also evident that he was not being truthful about the reason why he could not attend the current meeting. He was attending a Select Committee meeting on the same date that he had given to appear before the Committee. He agreed with Mr Lorimer that Minister Zwane did not want to appear before the Committee. The Minister was centrally involved in the Estina farming issue, and the Hawks had already attended to that, so there was no reason for him to appear before the Committee, barring a formal inquiry. Mr Schmidt suggested that the Committee short-circuit the process and proceed to a formal investigative inquiry as Mr Lorimer had indicated.
Mr Rawula thanked the Chairperson for welcoming him to the Committee. He was of the opinion that the Committee should be commended for its role because the Minister had been implicated in state capture. It was correct to say that the Minister owed the Committee an explanation as it was the duty of that Committee to hold him accountable as a responsible comrade. The Committee was not doing anything out of tune by asking him to appear and explain himself. It was something that the Committee had to do. The timelines given by the Chairperson indicated that the Committee had given him enough time and had accommodated him, for which the Committee had to be commended. To hear that the Minister was answering questions in the NCOP, but there was no sitting of the NCOP made him wonder whether the Minister was not in contempt of the Portfolio Committee. He asked about date of the letter relating to the Select Committee meeting. Had the Chairperson checked whether the Select Committee was sitting? Unfortunately, it was too late to subpoena him for that week, but he suggested that the Committee subpoena the Minister for Wednesday the following week.
The Chairperson explained that he had a letter from Mr Dumisani Ximbi, the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings. When the Chairperson had received the letter late this past Monday, it had referred only to the Minister appearing at the NCOP. His assumption was that it was a plenary of the NCOP, but there was no plenary on that day as the NCOP would be in a Joint Sitting for the Budget from 14:00. He had had replied suggesting that the NCOP could excuse the Minister or allow the Deputy Minister to attend the NCOP. The NCOP required the Department in its meeting, but the Committee required a specific person, the Minister. There was already a commitment as it was the Minister who had suggested the date. He admitted that it was possible that the Minister had not known about the NCOP meeting at the time that he had suggested the date. However, the NCOP started at 8:30 and so an arrangement would have been possible. The problem was that the second letter had added that the Minister was expected at a special Cabinet meeting, so the Committee could not meet with him even after the NCOP meeting.
In summing up the discussions, the Chairperson asked if the Committee was suggesting the route of a subpoena to the Minister. The Committee would need to take the decision on a subpoena, in principle, but the legal services would manage the administrative processes. He wanted the Committee to understand the implications of the decision that it was taking. He would put aside the issues raised by Mr Rawula and Mr Pikinini until the legal services had given advice. He further pointed out that the Minister had given, not a date, but a week. The Committee had to be aware, when considering a subpoena that the Minister had offered to appear before the Committee. If the Committee waited for the Minister and he did not appear the following week, the Committee would have to consider a separate process. The second thing was that Mr Schmidt and Mr Lorimer had suggested an inquiry, and the Committee seemed to be in agreement. The Committee had to remember that the House Chairperson had suggested that the Committee first interact with the Minister in terms of its oversight before proceeding to an inquiry. However, he did not believe that that was a pre-condition for calling an inquiry.
What would be needed in terms of content for an inquiry? He knew, for instance, that the Committee would require an evidence leader and dedicated staff as the Committee could not stop its normal functions. The Committee would have to apply for different days to hold the inquiry which would mean that the Members would be expected to meet at awkward times. The Committee had an operational duty that could not be collapsed while Members dealt with the inquiry. Those Members who served in two Committees would have to plead with the Chairpersons to allow them to have the time to engage in such a process. The Committee would also have to determine the basis of the inquiry – he did not want to use the words ‘terms of reference.’ From the point of view of the House Chairperson, it was about state capture allegations that involved the Minister. The Committee would have to establish the veracity of the allegations and the key issues in relation to that. Although many issues would arise during such an inquiry, Members had to determine whether there were any points of origin. There was the consideration of external issues and how other processes would impact on an inquiry by the Committee, but the House Chairperson had stated that it was also a question of oversight of the Minister by the relevant Committee. It appeared that the Committee agreed with the need for an inquiry. That would imply be additional costs and a need for expert assistance and even external excursions.
The next issue was what the Members wanted the investigation to do.
He noted that the processes had to start as soon as possible. He did not know if the Committee should wait forever for the Minister to appear before the Committee, and whether it was a necessary first step. Secondly, the Committee was suggesting a formal inquiry as per the Eskom inquiry, which would have to start as soon as possible.
Mr Rawula stated that, firstly, he needed clarity. What had propelled the Members to argue for a subpoena, was it the refusal of the Minister to meet the Committee? In order to be able to do their jobs, Members had said that the Minister should be subpoenaed so that they could exhaust themselves. His understanding was that, on the basis of the Minister engaging with the Members, the Committee would decide if there was prima facia evidence for an investigation. He thought that the subpoena would precede a decision for an investigation. However, it appeared that the Committee was taking the decision on both simultaneously. He would speak further once he had obtained that clarity.
Mr S Japhta (AIC) agreed with Mr Rawula and suggested that they would be able to take a decision once the Legal Advisors had given advice as to whether both processes could take place simultaneously.
Mr Lorimer understood that the Committee had been asked to engage with the Minister. He pointed out that the Members had already engaged with him on one occasion. Although Mr Rawula had not been there, one of his party representatives had been at the meeting. The Committee had conducted that process and had given the Minister ample opportunity to come back and continue answering the questions; opportunities which he had declined. Now there was enough evidence to move to the stage of a formal investigation and, during that investigation, there would come a time when the Committee would want the Minister back. At that time, he would be subpoenaed as part of the inquiry. He could be called to the investigation first, or the Committee might decide to have other people testifying first.
Mr Schmidt asked the Chairperson whether he had been expecting responses to his question about the content of the possible investigation.
The Chairperson did not want to be confused. He wanted to avoid turning to the legal team until the politicians had decided upon a course of action and then the legal advisors could indicate the consequences of the decision. If the decision had imitations, Members could reconsider the decision. He wanted the Committee to take a decision. The issue of whether they would run concurrently and so on could come later. He did not want Members who tested the waters. He wanted decisions. He had not followed the inquiry route because Members had said that they had not exhausted their questions to the Minister and they had needed a second meeting. There was even a suggestion that those questions could be narrowed down to relate to the performance of executive action. The Minister had said that he was willing to appear. Under normal processes, the Committee would have moved on to the next process after that meeting with the Minister. Now Members were considering setting the other process in motion because an inquiry was not subject to the Minister appearing, or not appearing at a meeting. Holding an inquiry was subject only to the question of whether there was not an issue to be investigated and Mr Schmidt had said that there was prima facia evidence relating to the Estina Dairy Farm. He assumed that the Committee was of the view that an investigation was necessary.
The Chairperson added an issue that could arise if the Committee followed the subpoena. He pointed out that everything legal could be subject to another process. For example, the Minister could state that he had been willing to appear before the Committee. In law, a person was entitled to challenge a subpoena, and that could delay the process. However, when one started an investigation, it was no longer a question of deciding whether to come or not. In the Committee, the Minister was not under investigation, but he was compelled to attend an inquiry if he was the subject of the inquiry. For him, the sticky point was that if the Committee went ahead with the investigation and ignored the non-attendance of the Minister, the Committee could be setting a precedent. He feared that a precedent would be set for people who did not want to appear before a Committee, and that would be a sad day. He did not want it to happen on his watch. However, even though the Minister had said that he would attend, there was no guarantee that he would. It had become mostly a precedent issue in his view but, if Members so required, he could ask the legal advisors to give an opinion on the decision of the subpoena route, and also on the commencement of the process of a Committee inquiry.
Mr Pikinini appreciated the summary, but Members were tired of not being listened to. The Minister had to be subpoenaed first. Thereafter they could look at an inquiry. He wanted the meeting with the Minister, first and foremost. He did not want postponements. The Members did not want dilly-dallying. The second process could be dealt with after the meeting with the Minister. As to what the Committee would do in the inquiry, the Committee could decide on that after the meeting with the Minister. The Committee had already made that decision and did not want delays. They would decide on the issues relating to the inquiry after the engagement with the Minister. The Committee had decided on the two processes, so the Chairperson could start looking into budget and such things. His colleagues were correct in that things were taking place somewhere around and the Minister’s name had come up there. There were linkages to the Minister and so the Committee could not try to run away.
Mr Schmidt requested that his comments stood over until after the legal advisors had spoken.
Input by the Parliamentary Legal Advisors
Fatima Ebrahim and Phumsile Ngema represented the Parliamentary Legal Services.
Ms Ebrahim explained that Adv Jenkins was busy elsewhere and could not avail himself, but she trusted that the Chairperson would welcomed the advice of the two female legal advisors, especially as females tended to have a softer approach.
Section 26 of the Constitution empowered the National Assembly or any of its Committees to summons a person or persons and to bring documents, or simply to send documents. That power did not require any preceding action or non-actions. It was a power in and of itself. Some Committees, such as SCOPA, for example, simply invited people but there was precedent that if people did not attend, they were summonsed. The PRASA Board was a case in point.
The procedure was simple. National Assembly Rule 167 was a replication of what appeared in the Constitution, and it was read in conjunction with Section 227 which set out the functions of Portfolio Committees and their responsibilities in terms of oversight and, obviously, to conduct effective oversight, the Committee would have to call people to appear before it to provide information. The Committee had to pass a resolution, and the Committee had to be very clear as to the purpose of summonsing the person because the person had to have clarity on the subject matter and what was expected of him or her. Outside of the Committee, a number of steps would happen in arranging for a subpoena. The Chairperson would write a letter to the Speaker requesting a concurrence in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act, which was just a formality. Once the Speaker had signed the concurrence memo, the legal services then addressed an instruction to the Parliamentary Secretary to issue the summons, and once he/she had done that, the legal services would then forward it to the State Legal Advisors to work with the Sheriffs' Office to deliver the summons. The summons would contain relevant information as to the date, time and purpose of the appearance. A person who failed to respond to a summons and failed to attend would be liable for a criminal offence. The catch was that the person could provide sufficient cause for not attending, for example, involvement in an accident or being very sick. The Committee would have to accept that as an excuse. It was important that the Committee gave sufficient days as the process itself took a period of time, perhaps two or three days. She suggested that the Committee summons the person for the following week as he had already indicated his availability. Once the Committee had passed the resolution, the legal services would handle all the processes, even if the date needed to be changed.
An inquiry was a function of a Committee in terms of the National Assembly Rule 227. It stated that a Portfolio Committee could monitor, investigate or enquire into any matter concerning any executive organ of state. There were two distinct processes: a statutory inquiry and an oversight inquiry. An oversight inquiry would be similar to the one being conducted into Eskom, whereas the SABC process had been a statutory inquiry. With the SABC there had been certain statutory requirements for the removal of the Board. There were no set rules or procedures for an oversight inquiry. The Committee would decide what to do and how to do it. It was essential to remember that Members retained their responsibility and they could not hand over that responsibility to the evidence leader. Members had to be in control of the process and any decisions taken had to be sound and rational, and based on the evidence heard during the inquiry. An oversight inquiry was permitted to take a natural process, and a Committee could decide to call additional witnesses as the process unfolded.
Nothing prevented the Committee from summonsing the same person twice. The main difference between a person being summonsed and appearing before the Committee was that, under subpoena, the person could not perjure oneself as that person had to take an oath or an affirmation. The person would be protected only so long as one did not perjure oneself. Perjury would be a criminal offence.
The Committee had to decide whether to first summons the Minister and then move forward with the inquiry or whether the Members wanted to start the inquiry first and then summons the Minister. It was at the discretion of the Committee. She reminded the Chairperson that a formal resolution was required to take the process forward and then her office would take the process forward and ensure that all formalities were adhered to, and the summons was delivered by the sheriff.
The Chairperson asked if one could summons someone who had not refused to appear before the Committee and had given reasons for not appearing and had made a commitment to appear before the Committee. Could one summons on the basis of frustration? His problem was that the Rules of Parliament were so flexible.
Ms Ebrahim replied there were no prerequisite processes. Nothing had to happen, or not happen, beforehand. Courtesy and good governance would suggest that the Committee first invite the person. It was clear that the Committee had taken that route and had attempted to meet with the Minister over a few months. It was important to remember that non-attendance would only be a criminal offence if that person did not have a valid reason for not appearing before the Committee on the given date.
Mr Schmidt suggested that judging by the past few attempts, it was clear that there was a need for a subpoena. On the face of it, there would probably be another excuse from the Minister the following week. His only concern was if the Committee subpoenaed the Minister, he might or might not say that the Committee had already made a decision to hold an inquiry. He would then ask about the rationale for calling him twice, firstly for the informal process and then to testify before the Committee. The Committee would have to call him if there was a formal inquiry. What was the legal opinion on such a situation?
The Chairperson agreed that it was a tough one, but everyone was trying. Mr Schmidt’s point led him to the second question. The discussion should not be about the subpoena, and maybe the Committee was focussing on the subpoena instead of the work that had to be done. He would allow legal services to advise. Was the Committee compelled to grant the Minister a second appearance with the Committee if Members felt that, at that point, everything needing to be done had been done? Or should the Committee just move on to an inquiry? If the Committee put out a subpoena and the Minister did not appear, people out there would think that the Committee was not doing its business. It reflected on the Committee that it did not seem to be serious. At the meeting with the Minister, there were Members who were not satisfied with the Minister’s answers and those members had said it was time to move to the next process, but the Chairperson had to be careful that moving to an inquiry was not seen as an attempt by the Chairperson to protect the Minister from the questions of the Members. That was why he had believed it was best to allow the process to continue with a second session. As he understood it, it was the Committee Members themselves who had wanted to continue with the questioning of the Minister. Was it then not up to the Committee Members to say that they had tried that process and had not been satisfied and so wanted to move onto an inquiry, which would still give the Minister a second opportunity to appear before the Committee? It would have the advantage of being under oath. He respected the Rules of Parliament and the option of a subpoena, but he did not want that process to deter the Committee from the work that it was supposed to be doing. The Committee could meet for an hour or two the following week to determine the areas that the inquiry would address and other issues where decisions would need to be taken. He was suggesting that they would then go straight to the inquiry and no longer have a discussion about subpoenaing the Minister.
Mr Rawula thought that the Committee Members were getting closer to each other. His request for clarity had been because he was also battling with that same issue. He thought that the Members now saw the irrelevance of having two separate processes. Perhaps in the light of all the information and the situation regarding the Minister’s non-attendance, Members should consult their caucuses about taking a decision to abandon the process of subpoenaing the Minister and rather proceed with the process of the inquiry. He asked whether the Committee had a list of people that the Committee wanted to call to the inquiry. The process should follow the same route that the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises had taken where a number of people had been indicated. The Committee should not get stuck with just one name, that of the Minister’s, but there should be a list of other people who would be called to the inquiry. He suggested that the Committee abandoned the process of subpoenaing the Minister and proceeded directly to the inquiry and, if the need arose, the Committee could subpoena him to the inquiry.
Mr Jaftha stated that, given the explanations of the Chairperson and the legal advisors, he seconded Mr Rawula’s proposal. The Committee had already given the Minister an opportunity to answer questions.
Mr Lorimer stated that it might be the only time in his life, but he agreed with the EFF.
The Chairperson stated that they were not abandoning a process, as the Minister had already appeared. He did not want to say “abandon” as they were not running away like cowards. He wanted to say that the Committee was putting aside the decision to subpoena the Minister. He reminded Members that it was not the decision of the Chairperson but of all the Members on the Committee. He got a sense that the Committee did not accept the reasons that the Minister had given and that was what the record had to state.
Mr Jaftha suggested that the Committee did not say that it did not accept the reasons for the Minister not coming to the Committee as he might have other reasons for not appearing.
The Chairperson stated that if the Committee did not reject the reason for his not appearing, it meant that the Committee should wait for the Minister to appear the following week. Either the Committee accepted the Minister’s reason for not appearing and waited for him the following week or not. He did not want to create the impression that the inquiry was conditional on the Minister. The intention of calling the Minister was not to give the Minister a chance to put his position: it had been a chance for Members to ask questions. Only if it was an inquiry, would the Minister be given the chance to rebut allegations made. He believed that the Committee should go back to the beginning. Did Members still want to ask the Minister to appear before the Committee for Members to ask more questions, including the questions that he had not answering adequately? That was the point to be clarified first.
Mr Schmidt stated that in the light of his answers and failure to attend, the Committee should proceed to a formal inquiry and that those questions would be asked at the formal inquiry.
The Chairperson asked if Mr Schmidt was withdrawing the questions. If he did not withdraw the questions, it would be difficult to move to the formal inquiry. He could, however, say that he was reserving his right to ask the questions at the inquiry.
Mr Rawula stated that the EFF did not accept the reasons of the Minister. What the EFF wanted in respect of clarity would be asked for in the inquiry. His position was that the Committee should proceed to the inquiry and that any questions that had to be asked would be asked during that inquiry. The non-attendance and petty reasons forwarded showed that the Minister did not have an appetite to respond to the questions. The inquiry was the right route.
Mr Lorimer agreed with his colleagues.
The Chairperson stated that that meant that the questions were withdrawn in respect of a Committee meeting, although Members could ask the Minister those questions in the inquiry. The Members agreed that the Committee would institute an inquiry. The Committee would return the following week for an hour or two to determine the details. Members would interact with each other and with the legal services as well as with the House Chairperson as to how to institute an oversight Committee of inquiry. He would make inquiries as to what had to be done to put an inquiry in place and resolve all the administrative details and issues of personnel. The Committee would come back the following week and determine the issues that the inquiry would focus on. The point was that the House Chairperson had asked the Committee to conduct an inquiry into the involvement by Minister of Mineral Resources in state capture relating to mineral resources. The Committee should determine whether, on a balance of probabilities, or in terms of political influence, the Minister had influenced how operations had been conducted in the area of mineral resources. Any other people asked to appear would be in terms of the evidence to be collected. The Committee could put out a public notice for anyone who felt that he or she could provide evidence. The Committee, together with legal services, could look at which people would appear as a result of their own submission and which people the Committee would call to appear at the inquiry. He warned that people who appeared before the Committee might declare that nothing had been untoward, whereas others might point to things that had not been done properly.
The Chairperson would write to the Minister, and if he wanted to appear before the Committee, Members would allow him that right so that he did not feel that he was being treated unfairly and so that he had a chance to clarify whatever he felt needed to be clarified.
The Chairperson stated that that matter had been put to rest and the Committee would embark on the process of an inquiry. The next Committee meeting would probably be held the following Tuesday or Wednesday. He would make sure that Members were kept informed. As things were flying so fast in Parliament, anything could happen.
The meeting was adjourned.