The Committee for Section 194 Inquiry into suspended Public Protector (PP) Adv Busiswe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office resolved to resume its hearings the following Monday and to conclude its proceedings within the deadline set by its latest adopted draft programme of 28 July 2023.
The Committee was informed by its legal advisor, Ms Fatima Ebrahim, that Adv Mkhwebane’s attorneys of choice, Chaane Attorneys, has since been appointed to represent her and is preparing for the hearings on Monday the following week. This development pleased Members, who expressed hope that this will allow for the Inquiry to resume and wrap up its work within the new timeframe.
The Chairperson shared the concerns raised by Members, particularly those relating to the sudden increase in the legal rates charged by Adv Mkhwebane’s legal team, led by Adv Dali Mpofu, as well as the constant delays they have brought upon the proceedings. The Committee, he outlined, has done all it can to provide Adv Mkhwebane with a fair process, and went further by providing her with the assistance she asked for to obtain new legal representatives.
Discussing the Speaker’s concerns about the continued delay in the Committee’s work, the Chairperson said he will communicate with the Chair-of-chairs and the Speaker with an update and the revised programme, because there cannot be an interim report. He says the Speaker is within her rights to enquire about the committee’s progress.
The Committee affirmed that anybody who has grief about the work of this Committee can raise issues in the appropriate platforms but this must not affect the work of this Committee.
The Chairperson: I would like to welcome all of you, Honourable (Hon) Members, all of us on the virtual platform today; to welcome the members of the media with us, our entire support staff, members of the public who are joining this Committee meeting in their various platforms. I just want to indicate upfront that this Committee meeting is specifically convened to fully prepare for the resumption and the conclusion of the Inquiry. As such, the focus of our discussions today will be mainly on two areas: one, to get an update on the legal support appointment process. You would remember that the last meeting we had on the 17th was about ensuring that that's in place. Secondly, we are going to have to adopt the revised programme; and all of that will have to be executed within the timelines, and the limited available resources, which means it is the budget and the time that we have. We [are] still operating within those 22 days in which we need to conclude our work. There are no extra days. There is no extra money. Everything else will have to be done within those limited resources – both time and money. Our process has always been guided by two important principles, one being our task to complete our work within a reasonable, reasonable period or timeframe, as per our rules – and all of you would know that we have been challenged in that regard. We should have long concluded this process, but we have been patient. And we also do that to work diligently, of course, without delay, per the prescripts of our Constitution. But the second principle has always been and continues to be that of acting fairly throughout this process. These are the two guiding principles that are guiding our work. But more importantly, as we meet today and resume – as we plan the resumption of our work, and when we will conclude – I want members to be very mindful that any further delay… any further delay of this process, or even postponement, will not be in the interest of the public, [it] is not in the interest of the institution that we come from – the National Assembly – [it] will also not be in the interests of the Public Protector, who is the subject of this Inquiry who accounts to the National Assembly. It is therefore going to be important that as we engage in our discussion today to prepare for the resumption of our work from next week, we are very much mindful of the fact that we do not have infinite time. We cannot continue with elastic deadlines, and we need to remain focused to conclude our work without affecting anybody's rights. But as I have indicated, the work that we do must be in the best interest of the public, of the Public Protector, and this process itself – we have got to balance that. We will not continue to just act as if the only interest that we must be guarded here is one over the other: that is going to be very important. That having been said, I am going to ask the [Committee] Secretary to indicate if I have got any apologies. Thereafter, I am going to ask our legal adviser, Ms Fatima Ebrahim, to take us through the update – you would have received a lot of correspondence – to summarise what we have received as part of the update on the appointment of the legal support. And following that, Mr Ngoma will also table the revised programme that you would have received a draft of. Mr Ngoma, any apologies? I cannot hear you.
Mr Thembinkosi Ngoma (The Committee Secretary): Can you hear me now?
The Chairperson: Yeah, please start all over. Now I can hear you.
Mr Ngoma: Good morning, Chair. Good morning to Members. Chair, I have received two apologies, one from Dr Gondwe and another from Mr Brett Herron, both citing constituency work. Thank you very much, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you. Thank you, Mr Ngoma. Those are the two apologies we have received from Hon Gondwe and Hon Herron. Thank you for that. We proceed. Ms Fatima Ebrahim if you are on the platform I now want to invite you to take the Committee through the update on the process and I am going to urge you not to, even though Members would have received the correspondence, but to ensure that you take Members through all the critical steps that would have been engaged on. And before you come in, I do want to appreciate the role of the PPSA, the Public Protector, South Africa, as well as the State Attorney's Office, the Solicitor-General, for their work to ensure that, that which you will present now, they have done work in that regard. Over to you, Ms Ebrahim.
Ms Fatima Ebrahim (Parliamentary Legal Advisor): Thank you, Chair. Good morning to yourself, all the Members, and the staff on the platform. Chair, if you will allow me, I just want to do, firstly, a really quick update in terms of the litigation just so that Members are aware. Members will recall that the PP took the issue of the non-recusal of yourself and Hon Mileham on review, together with a few other matters, and that judgement was handed down on the 13th of April. And in terms of that judgement, the full bench of the High Court had ruled that the PP had brought the matter prematurely – so in the middle of proceedings, as it were. And they then did not proceed to deal with the merits of the issue. The Public Protector launched an application for leave to appeal that judgement; that application was heard earlier this week, and judgement was handed down yesterday. The Public Protector has been granted that leave to appeal now to the Supreme Court of Appeal, so the matter will proceed there. There was also, Chair, a conditional cross-appeal, and the cross-appeal was a cross-appeal launched by yourself just in relation to the cost issue. So in the main judgement of the High Court, they had ordered costs against the Public Protector, but not in her personal capacity. And the issue that is now been raised in the cross-appeal, which has been granted, is that the Public Protector, given her suspension, cannot act with authority for purposes of the PPSA act – so she could not have launched those proceedings. So it is a technical issue, but I have asked the Secretariat to please share the judgement with Members: it is a very short judgement. And we of course will keep Members updated as to what happens in the SCA (Supreme Court of Appeal). The appeal does not have the effect of an interdict, so in law, there is nothing that prevents the Committee from continuing, but of course, as I always advise, that is for the committee to decide how they would want to manage that – but that is a parallel litigation process that is ongoing. Chair, when the Committee last met on the 17th of May, you will recall that the PP confirmed that Seanego Attorneys are no longer acting as her attorneys of record in the matter and she requested our assistance via the PP then procuring Chaane Attorneys; and that is a law firm that is on the panel of attorneys that the PPSA uses when procuring outside legal services. The reasons for Seanego no longer participating in the process or being on brief are still not apparent. Members will recall that they raised the issue of professional legal privilege and the PP did not waive that. So we abandoned that investigation as to what the cause was. And we then proceeded to try and assist the PP, via the PPSA, to secure the services of Chaane Attorneys. On that same day, Chair, the 17th of May, Members will also recall that we tabled a letter from the Solicitor-General where he set out various ways in which the funding and the appointment issues of new attorneys could be resolved because the PPSA had made contact with the Solicitor-General on these matters. And he had recommended that the PPSA should explore alternative options to mitigate the financial burden and included in that would be re-negotiating fees for the current legal team, possibly streamlining the legal teams, in other words, reducing the number of the legal team, introducing other cost-saving measures, and so on and at all times, though, ensuring that the process remains fair. They then also offered the PPSA that they would assist if the PPSA required such assistance to outsource the attorneys, being Chaane Attorneys, so that there is some arm's length between the PPSA and Chaane Attorneys. And in fact that negotiation then happened. We wrote to the PPSA, Chair, on the 18th of May, and we asked them to please assist the Public Protector because of the request that you made to the committee the day before, to now instruct the new attorneys because Seanego had indicated that for professional reasons, they were no longer involved. On the 23rd of May, Chair, we received correspondence from the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of the PPSA and she confirmed that they had liaised with the Solicitor-General to facilitate the outsourcing of instructions for the further legal representation of the PP to Chaane Attorneys, with the retention of the PP’s preferred counsel; because Members will recall in the meeting, she had indicated that notwithstanding that Seanego is no longer participating in the process, Adv Mpofu remains her counsel of choice. At this point, Chair, it is our understanding that there was then a negotiation between Chaane and the state attorneys on the conditions of appointment as their role was specifically sought in order to manage these negotiations, given the Solicitor-General’s concern about cost containment – so that is why that office was originally asked to assist. On the 23rd of May as well, Chair, the state attorney confirmed that Mr Chaane has been appointed as the attorney of record or correspondent attorneys, as they put it – Members may be aware that in order to brief counsel, you need attorneys to act as a conduit to do that. Mr Chaane was advised that he could now deal directly with the Public Protector herself and would not deal with the office of the PPSA. His appointment was conditional on briefing only Adv Mpofu and that at a rate of R45 000 per day. So it was our understanding at this point, Chair, that the negotiations with Chaane Attorneys had resulted in them arriving at this settled amount of R45 000 per day and the use of Adv Mpofu. The PPSA, as you know, had committed to covering the reasonable and budgeted costs associated with the representation of Adv Mkhwebane, including the legal fees and disbursements but to a maximum of the R4 million which was the amount… the additional amount that had been made available. On [the] 24th of May, Chaane Attorneys wrote to the PPSA and they informed them that after having contacted Adv Mpofu he indicated that he would not only accept the brief if the status quo remained and if his two juniors were brought backing in board – back on board, rather – and that would have been Advocate Tshabalala and Advocate Matlape, who the Committee is obviously very familiar with, who have been part of the process since we began. On [the] 25th of May, Chair, there is a letter from Chaane Attorneys, where they indicated the issue of counsel’s availability was still in discussion. And on the same day, they were then informed that subsequent engagements between the Solicitor-General and the PPSA’s office that there was now agreement that they may proceed on briefing all three counsellors. In other words, the original team would now be retained. On that same day then, Chair, myself, and the Secretariat met with Mr Chaane. The purpose was an onboarding exercise if I could put it that way, just to familiarise them with the work of the Committee, introduce them to the way in which the Committee manages its electronic record, and so on. And at the same time, they were also making arrangements with Seanego Attorneys to get the balance of documents that those attorneys had in their possession. On the 26th of May, Chair, we confirmed with them that we have now granted them access to the Dropbox. We also shared with them the latest transcripts of the Evidence Leaders presentations that had happened after the 31st of March. And they confirmed the following day that they do have confirmation of the access to the Dropbox. And then what we also did, Chair, was to provide them with an explanatory note on how to navigate the Dropbox. So for the benefit of Members, the Dropbox is the equivalent of Parliament's system. It is our electronic database, where the Evidence Leaders and the PP’s legal team have been uploading all documents. In turn, the Secretariat shares those documents with the Committee. And the reason for taking them through it and doing the explanatory note is that there is this figure, I think, of 63 000 pages that have been floating around to say that the record is that large. But of course, the way in which we have divided that Dropbox into various sections means that there is quite a bit of duplication. Can I just give a quick example? The part of the Dropbox, Section A, contains the panel report and everything that the panel has done – that was before the panel, in terms of the evidence submitted in support of the motion. So those judgments in support of the motion would appear in other parts of the Dropbox, where we have sections dealing with judgments and so on. So that was the purpose, just to assist Chaane Attorneys to be able to navigate that, and they confirm that they then had access. Chair, between the 29th and 30th of May there is various emails between the Secretariat and Chaane Attorneys to try and figure out whether counsel has now come on board and what the delay is, especially given that as far as we knew, at this point, the request that Adv Mpofu had that he be allowed to continue with his juniors had been acceded to. And we were then told on [the] 29th of May that the PPSA had been advised by Chaane Attorneys that counsel now submitted a new fee structure. And in terms of that new fee structure, Chair, the rate for Adv Mpofu had increased from R45 000 per day to R51 000 per day; for Adv Tshabalala from R27 000 to R30 000 per day; and then for Adv Matlape from R18 000 to R21 000 per day. And the PPSA then responded to the state attorney with their concerns that this would amount to an additional R12 000 per day than what they had originally understood; and that there is only this ring-fenced amount of R4 million which Adv Mkhwebane would have to manage. And they also then raise an issue, Chair, that despite Adv Mkhwebane having been on record that the legal team is assisting her at a reduced rate, the counsel fees have now increased from R90 000 to R102 000 per day, and that the information at their disposal is that these fees are at the upper end of the average or normal rate of counsel in the various centres. On 1 June, Chair, we received an email from Chaane Attorneys where they indicated they [are] still waiting on the state attorney to get back to them on whether they may proceed to appoint counsel based on these new rates that have now been proposed. And we received correspondence, Chair, very late last night from the CEO of the PPSA indicating that yesterday during the course of the day the state attorney had in turn sought further clarity from her office on the acceptance of the proposed fee structures; and they confirmed acceptance provided that it would be on record that only the amount of R4 million is available and that anything that may be required beyond that R4 million would be for the account of the PP. So that is the communication now between PPSA and State Attorney, because PPSA, of course, would still be paying for these fees via the Office of the State Attorney. The PPSA then informed us that as far as they are concerned the issue of fees has now been sorted, and there is no impediment in us continuing with the matter. This morning, Chair, we received an email from the PPSA, attaching an email from the State Attorney to Chaane Attorneys, in which the State Attorney indicates that on instructions of their client and in the interest of time and progress in the proceedings, that the client has agreed to counsel’s fees as stipulated in the letter – so that would be the increase fees that are laid out earlier – and that the instructions are to advise that the funds are limited and that once the allocated funds are exhausted that the PP would then have to carry the cost of any additional funds out of our own pocket. Of course, Chair, we do now set with the issue that there is only the R4 million, as far as PPSA is concerned, and with the increase in the dates on the one hand and the fact that all three counsel are now back on board, it does mean that there may possibly or definitely, at least, will be less days available in which to manage those funds. So unfortunately, whilst it appears that in the beginning the purpose of engaging with the SG (Solicitor-General) would be for cost containment, the effect of what we sit with today is that costs would not [be] contained, it seems to have gone up. That is where we stand currently, Chair. So I see that Thembinkosi is on the ball this morning. He has already sent a whatsapp on our backroom chat group asking for an urgent backroom meeting with counsel, so that we can just plan the way forward and do the usual housekeeping things that we do in the background, Chair. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Ms Ebrahim. Just before I ask the Secretary to present the revised programme, so that when you discuss, you discuss both issues, I just want to ask Galaxy Tab S85G to name your budget, so that you indicate who you are. You have been accepted, but we thought that is a Member, but everybody has to do that. Galaxy Tab, S85G? I repeat… I hope Galaxy Tab S85G can hear me? Galaxy Tab S85G, please identify yourself. Mr Ngoma?
Mr Ngma: I think, Chairperson, Mr Holomisa, is trying to say something on the platform.
The Chairperson: No, no. I am dealing with the Galaxy Tab S8[5G]. Mr Ngoma, if Galaxy Tab S85G is not indicating or identifying himself or herself, I am going to ask you that you remove her… that person.
Mr Ngoma: I will do so, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you. And I would like you, therefore, to proceed with tabling the revised programme, and then I will invite Members to engage with both presentations.
Mr Ngoma: Thank you, Chairperson. Good morning, once again. Chairperson, we have prepared the draft programme that I am now tabling to this Committee, which is starting with today, this current meeting. And then, Chairperson, we are scheduled to start or to resume the hearings on Monday, the whole week that is coming, Chairperson, subject to the approval of the programme by the relevant officers, once adopted by the Committee. And then, Chairperson, we intend to continue the following week as well. Chairperson, you will also notice that [a] number of the agenda items are listed as evidence of Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane. This indicates the dates that are available for the hearings, however, Chairperson, once this Committee has gone through this programme those days will then be… the agenda will be put in a manner in which the Committee agrees to proceed with the hearings. And then, Chairperson, following that week we are scheduled to continue with our work throughout… at the beginning of the constituency work, which is that week of Monday the 19th. We will submit the programme for relevant approvals for the Committee to sit during that period. And, Chairperson we then foresee that on Monday, the 26th, we will be afforded an opportunity for both the Evidence Leaders and the legal representatives of Adv Mkhwebane to prepare for closing statements, which will then be heard on Wednesday the 28th of June, which will be followed by the Committee deliberations, Chairperson, right until the Committee is concluded with this deliberation. Then we will have a few days just to incorporate those into the report of the Committee. And then after that we will table the draft report to the Committee for discussion – we are looking at the 11th of July. And on Wednesday, the 12th of July, we are looking at the Committee adopting that draft Committee report. And we have set aside some time to send the report to the Public Protector so that she can make submissions and we are looking at the 27th and 28th to consider such submissions made by Adv Mkhwebane and to finalise the process on the 30th of July. Chairperson, the programme is drafted based on also what was also taken into consideration about the amount which [Ms] Fatima spoke to, which has been made available for the Committee to conclude the process. So the programme itself consists of 22 sitting days, starting from Monday. I table the programme to the Committee. Thank you very much, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Mr Ngoma, for that presentation. Hon Members – if you can remove the presentation now, Mr Ngoma, so that I can… thank you – I now want to invite you to engage with both presentations and to get into a discussion, mindful of what we would have said upfront. I recognise Hon Denner to speak. Any other Member who wishes…?
Mr B Holomisa (UDM): I did raise my hand; you said I must wait.
The Chairperson: Oh, Hon Holomisa. Hon Dlakude… I will start with those. Those are the hands that I have now. Hon Denner?
Ms H Denner (FF+): Thank you, Chair. Good morning. I apologise for croaking at you, I am a bit sick. Good morning to everyone. Chairperson, I honestly cannot think what more this Committee can do to ensure that this process is procedurally fair to the PP. There are mechanisms at her disposal that she can follow if she does not agree with the process or the findings. So I propose that we accept the programme as is and we continue because we are moving to the terrain of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Thank you, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Denner. Hon Holomisa?
Mr Holomisa: Good morning, Chairperson and colleagues and everyone else who is listening or watching this programme. I would like to suggest that you should brief us on the statement which was issued by the Chairperson, or rather, the Speaker of Parliament, who said – or reportedly has said – that she wants an interim report. The question is: did she say that in writing to you or to the Committee? Or did she just issue a statement? Even if she had just issued a statement, the public is awaiting for this Committee to respond to that. So what will be the position of the Committee if indeed what she said is in the affirmative? Secondly, she has also been approached by the Public Protector to investigate a serious matter, which involves one of the Members of the Committee regarding an extortion allegation. Would it be possible that on Monday, the chairperson of the ethics committee, who has been approached by the Public Protector, on the advice of the Speaker, that he or she comes and brief the Committee [on] how serious are these allegations? And perhaps by that time, the Speaker or the ethics committee, if they want, they should also liaise with the Hawks, who I believe are investigating this matter; so that we know who is who in this Committee because these allegations were too serious. I submit my position on this issue. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Holomisa. Your points have been duly noted. I now recognise Hon Dlakude.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC): Thank you very much, Hon Chairperson. Good morning to you. Good morning colleagues and also Ms Ebrahim… Fatima. Morning to all of you and also everyone on the platform. Hon Chairperson, let me start by welcoming the report, the presentation by Ms Fatima Ebrahim. I fully agree and support that and also appreciate and welcome the presentation of the programme by Mr Ngoma. Hon Chairperson, we have always said that our draft Section 194 programme is our living document. So I will urge my colleagues that we adopt this document… this programme, as presented, so that we can be able to forge ahead with the task that is before us. Hon Chairperson, I want also to maybe assist the Hon Member who raised the issue of the Speaker and the PP. I do not want us to dwell into whether the PP requested a meeting with the Speaker and how the Speaker responded; I think that is not part of what we should discuss here, today, as a Committee, because that matter is between the PP and the Speaker, and some of us have no clue of what transpired between the two parties; so it will be unfair for us to get into a matter that does not concern us. The second issue is that of… that Hon Holomisa raised, of the Speaker wanting a report from the Committee. Fortunately for myself, I was in the programming committee yesterday morning. The concern is that the Committee, we have been sitting here as the Committee, doing our work, and we postpone our work and do this and do this…Parliament has not formally been briefed on what we are doing.
Mr Holomisa: On a point of order, Chairperson.
Ms Dlakude: So, my proposal, Hon Chairperson, on that matter.
Mr Holomisa: On a point of order, Chairperson. On a point of order, Chair. On a point of order, Chairperson.
The Chairperson: Thank you. Can you pause, Hon Dlakude, please? I need to recognise the point of order from Hon Holomisa. Hon Holomisa?
Mr Holomisa: I do not think this debate is going to take us anywhere. I have requested you and [you] said you noted it. I expect that you will make a ruling. If you want the other person to respond to this, then you must then allow me to come and make my own presentation on what she is saying. I expected you to give a ruling after you have said you have noted this, what I have raised, but you are allowing her to continue. I will respond.
Mr X Nqola (ANC): No, but that is not a point of order.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Holomisa.
Mr B Maneli (ANC): Order, Chair.
Mr Nqola: That is not a point of order.
The Chairperson: Hon Nqola, you have not been noted or recognised. Please pull back on that. I come back to you, Hon Dlakude.
Ms Dlakude: Thank you very much, Hon Chairperson. What I want to propose to this Committee is that already we have dealt… evidence has been led on two charges. So my proposal will be, Hon Chairperson, that as we resume with our work, we conclude those two charges… we conclude those two chargers as the Committee. Then we can produce a report which will be circulated to all parties involved, and that can be presented to the Speaker…to the National Assembly; that we have concluded two charges, as we already had evidence led by Adv Mpofu on these two charges. Then we will continue with what is left of the work of the Committee. That would be my proposal. I am not responding as to whether you received a letter or not. I was just saying, because I was part of the programming committee, and the escalating costs on both sides should be a concern to all of us – as taxpayers, it should be a concern. So that is the spirit of how these matters were raised. And that, of course, Parliament does not know what we are doing. No one is sitting [and] watching us every day when we do our work: they do not have a clue. Let us conclude the two charges, then we produce a report based on that so that the Committee can proceed with the other charges. Thank you very much.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Dlakude. I now recognise Hon Seabi.
Mr A Seabi (ANC): Thank you, Chairperson. And greetings to all who have joined on the platform. Let me also join colleagues in welcoming the presentations.
The Chairperson: Just…
Mr Ngoma: Chair, you are muted. You seem to be muted.
The Chairperson: No, I was asking Hon Seabi to pause because Hon Holomisa is in a conversation. I am asking him to mute because we can hear he is talking to someone. Over to you, Hon Seabi.
Mr Seabi: Thanks once more, Chairperson. No, mine, Chair, was to support the proposal that we adopt the programme as presented so that the Committee, as a Committee, we continue with the work of the Committee; more so that Hon Dlakdue has just indicated that the programme will remain a living document. Therefore, whenever there are challenges, we will be advised by the Chairperson’s office on how to intervene in such challenges. Therefore, I want to support the view that we adopt the programme as it stands, and more so that [it] is a living document. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Seabi, for your contribution. I now recognise Hon Majozi. Hon Zandile Majozi?
Ms Z Majozi (IFP): Thank you. Thank you, Chair. Sorry, my network is a bit bad this side, but greetings to all Hon Members. I welcome the report and also the programme of the Committee, Chairperson. And I would like us maybe to follow on… I am following up on Hon Seabi and the first Hon Member that spoke, that let us to adopt the programme as is, and we continue and finish the work that we are supposed to finish and do not derail by focusing on other matters that are not mandated to this Committee. Up until a certain time we get correspondence that this is what should proceed, then we will change our programme as it goes, but for now, I move that we adopt the programme and we accept the report as is. Thanks, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Majozi. Let me now recognise Hon Mananiso.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC): Thank you. Thank you, Chairperson. Let me start by welcoming the reports. And as well, one would want to say that I am covered by Hon Dlakude and Hon Seabi and Majozi, now, with regards to us proceeding with the process because there is nothing that is halting us from proceeding. And as well acknowledge what has been done by yourself and the collective in ensuring that we actually give access to the Public Protector in terms of legal representation. So with that being said, it is a living document; we will continue reviewing it as it does as the need. So I would like to move for the adoption of the programme like others. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Mananiso. I now recognise Hon Maneli.
Mr Maneli: Thank you, Hon Chair. Greetings to Hon Members on the platform. Chair, I think my points would have been taken by previous speakers in welcoming the presentation but firmly a point about us getting to resume again and complete the work that is given to this Inquiry. Whilst I agree with Hon Dlakude, just maybe, Chair, for a point of record, the reference is really to two subject matters, as opposed to charges, but the two subject matters of the CR (Cyril Ramaphosa) 17 and SARS (South African Revenue Services), which are matters that the Committee has also been empowered on by Evidence Leaders. But also these are matters that have been led already by the Public Protector in leading the evidence; I therefore agree with her that we need to find a conclusion on those matters because they are on record as matters that have been ventilated in this Inquiry, so that post that, Chair, we can then proceed with other subject matters that are still pending as per the submission made by the Public Protector. I tend to agree with Hon Majozi, which is, I think, a point, again. emphasised by Hon Dlakude before, that we have to concern ourselves, Chair, with matters that are before the Committee. Other matters that would be dealt with elsewhere, we leave it to those structures to deal with those matters until they become matters that affect the work of this Inquiry. Of course, I am saying this, Chair, without subtracting the fact that we are where we are because the Committee has bended backwards to enter into a space that we believed we should have not. But all these were done because [of] their material implications for the continuation of this Inquiry, and that we should always appreciate, Chair. So I am just saying we should be looking at that. And I am saying it is a lesson, Chair, to learn that at one point we had to entertain this point of resolving legal costs, but you were entertaining a letter from a personal lawyer, which is not an appointed lawyer of record for purposes of this Inquiry. I hope, Chair, even that would not happen again. It may have been an omission on our side, and that can set a precedent then that we get diverted from time to time to deal with matters that are not for this Inquiry. Otherwise, I agree, we should work on that. And the programme should reflect that approach, Chair, as we get back on Monday to resume, that we can conclude on those subject matters, and then thereafter continue in that way; and your backroom meetings should also be able to clarify that aspect. I thank you, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Maneli. Let me now recognise Hon Nqola.
Mr Nqola: Thank you very much, Chair. Chair, I want to plead with you that when we conclude with this Inquiry, we start a new Inquiry on the things the General (Mr Holomisa) was saying should be placed in a plastic. We want to know what was inside that plastic. Thank you very much, Chair. Chair, just some few points.
The Chairperson: I guess that is said on a lighter note?
Mr Nqola: Yes, Chair. Yes, of course, Chair, allow me, firstly, to welcome the presentation from both the Parliamentary Legal Services and Secretariat of the Portfolio Committee or the Section 194 Committee. Chair, I think this is the first time we meet after we have heard… We woke up to the news… And Chair please allow me to say this because the public is awaiting us to make a commentary or rather, make a firm stand on what has been on the public consumption, through news channels, which unfortunately has not been brought to our attention, as the Committee, whether through writing or whether through whatever communication possible to the Committee. We woke up, Chair, as this Committee, very amazed by some fiction that was created in a public space. But our interest is not that, chair. But the interest is that it has got a direct impact on the proceedings of this Section 194 Committee. It has a direct impact, Chair, because it has got a way of tainting the work that we are doing in this Committee, which I would, from where I am sitting now, say has been fair from day one to the last. There is circulating information that, unfortunately, is said to have been done through a particular police station that is unmentioned by the husband of the person who is the subject of this Committee. But further reports say there has been an attempt to solicit an audience from the Speaker of the National Assembly. But unfortunately, all these events have not been communicated directly to the attention of this Committee. But, Chair, I want us to do just a quick thing: just to say, as this Committee, we are not aware of any kind of nefarious conduct that has been done by Members of this Committee. And as we are not aware, we want to rebuke any fiction that is intended to defocus the work of this Committee, because as we are marching towards the closure of this Committee process, everything is going to come our way; and we are not going to allow ourselves to be defocused by gossip on the streets; to be de-focused by a fictitious kind of activity that is happening out there. We remain firm that we are proceeding with these proceedings, until the closure of it. We rebuke the fictitious articles and reports that have been done by media… by media houses, out there, in relation to what they term to be the conduct of Members of this Committee, outside the proceedings of this Committee. And we firmly say this Committee work will not be de-focused by such fictitious and nefarious intention to de-focus the work of this Committee. Chair, lastly, when I land, I want to agree and support the Members who have adopted the revised programme, but in record (sic) say, this is the last programme that we, as this Committee, adopt. We are closing the chapter on the 28th of July. Even if the skies fall, this Committee ends on the 28th of July, there is no way that will come to allow any sort of activity or any sort of a… whatever you may call, to defocus and derail the work of this Committee. We have been under pressure from the media, the public, from Parliament, from PPSA, and all sorts of institutions. And we cannot go beyond the 28th of July. I agree, Chair, with Hon Maneli, that in respect of the two issues we can release a preliminary report and submit it to the National Assembly. I think, Chair, I am covered generally by all speakers that have spoken before me. Thank you very much.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Nqola. Hon Nkosi?
Mr B Nkosi (ANC): Oh, I am covered, Chairperson. Thank you very much.
The Chairperson: Alright. Thank you, colleagues. Is there any other Member that I would have missed that would want to say something before I do any summary? Hon Dlakude?
Ms Dlakude: Thank you very much, Hon Chair. I just want, also, to emphasise the point made by Hon Nqola, the last speaker, that this should be our last programme. Even though it is a living document, but as Members of Parliament sitting in this Committee, we should make sure we conclude our work within the dates that are set up in this programme; so we should not allow for anything to derail us [as] we waited for quite some time now. So the main issue is that of funding. We were told in our last meeting that there will be no other funds made available for this process, so we should work within the funds that are made available, both by Parliament and PPSA. So I just wanted to focus… to emphasise that, and also to withdraw my earlier mention of charges meanwhile, these are matters that have been dealt with. In my mind, I was saying these matters where evidence was led. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Dlakude. I take it that there are no further comments from the Members on both of the items presented and the discussion that ensued, so that I do not… Okay, let us correct this now. I see Galaxy Tab S85G was removed and is back. Hon…
Ms V Siwela (ANC): It is Hon Siwela, Chairperson. This technology is troubling me. I do not know how to rename myself.
The Chairperson: Yes, but we wanted you to talk and identify yourself before we removed you. But let me give you the platform now that you have a second life into the meeting.
Ms Siwela: Thanks, Chair, but I have missed most of the things. What I would like to say is to support my colleagues; also what [Ms] Fatima has alluded to us, is that we want to move, Chairperson, and we want to conclude this business. So our humble appeal is cooperation from the other side of the mountain. So that is what I can emphasise. We need to conclude this thing; we have got a mandate so that we are able to report to Parliament. So I wanted to support that. Thank you.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Siwela. They have now named you as Ms V Siwela, so you are no longer Galaxy Tab whatever. Ms Ebrahim, any point you want to say before I summarise and conclude?
Ms Ebrahim: Nothing from my side. Thank you, Chair.
The Chairperson: Okay. No… Thank you very much, colleagues. Maybe just as a way of wrapping up and summarising, colleagues, all of your contributions have been noted in the manner that you have made them. I want to just start with the point about the issue of an interim report. To indicate to everybody, all Members here and those who are listening, there is no interim report. If there is going to be an interim report, it is going to be an interim report, a draft report, that all Members will be aware of. Remember, the manner we have worked, we have never worked in a smoke-filled room where is some report produced somewhere. What we will do after today, and I take it that is what the Speaker was requesting, is an update of where we are. You now have… All of you seem to be agreeing with adopting this programme, this revised adopted programme, that you have commented on and agreed. And you have indicated that this must be the last revised programme, even as we understood this thing of a living document, because your point is saying there is no more: we do not have any further amount of money beyond the R4 million; we do not have any more time that we want to add beyond the 22 days that we have. So post this meeting, as the Chairperson of the Committee, we will communicate with the Chair of Chairs and the Speaker about where we are in our work. The kind of update that you have got of the appointment process for the legal support, the revised programme, is what will be shared. There is nothing else beyond that because there cannot be any other interim report, Hon Holomisa, so I am trying to address that. So if the Speaker would have raised the issue of wanting to know where we are, she is duly in her right to do that, as the head of this institution, that is an extension of the institution that she is heading she is concerned about where things are. We will update the Hon Speaker, post this meeting, as you have just commented and adopted the programme; the fact that we are saying we are resuming next week, and Members would have raised other issues in that regard, in terms of their resumption. So that is how I want to tackle the issue of the interim report. It must not be regarded as an interim report. What we will do is an update because the Speaker has always operated in that way. The Speaker has always had an arm's length with any portfolio committee, including this Inquiry, and has never micromanaged any of these because the operational matters taking place here are the business of this Committee of the Section 194 Inquiry. The Speaker will receive whatever draft report at the end of this when we have to table this to the National Assembly because we do that through the Speaker; so just to clarify that, in that way. Secondly, I think Members are very clear, and I want to summarise that as such, we need to avoid any other issues that can consider sideshows to this process: we need to remain focused – and not be distracted or derailed, as Hon Majozi has put it as well as Hon Xola Nqola – on the business of this Inquiry. We have a clear mandate. Hon Maneli indicates that as part of our concern for this process not to be derailed and not to be impacted on, we ventured, and we are very conscious when we do that, in assisting the issue of payment when it arose – because there would have been a letter that was written to me, as a Chairperson, by the Public Protector, asking for assistance. We were very clear, even then, that that is not our space, but we played the kind of role that we needed to play and it did yield results because payments were then started to be processed in that regard. But we were clear that is not the role of this Committee, and so Hon Maneli is indicating that let us stay in our lane in that regard. And I think that is quite accepted and agreed, Hon Maneli. And so what it means is that if there is any… Hon Nqola has been very firm on the issue of allegations that are flying around. I think we must indicate there that if… We have always maintained that anybody who has grief about the work of this Committee, can raise issues properly in that regard. And there are always platforms, whether it is the court, and if there are serious allegations of corrupt activities and criminality, there are platforms where those things must be sent to, whether it is laying charges for whoever is affected. Anybody who is aggrieved around that, they are within their own rights to do that. But whatever happens, must not affect the work of this Committee. There are even further, other avenues for Members of Parliament that are alleged to have done certain things, there is a platform: the ethics committee to be approached to attend [to] those issues. And none of those things must then plunge this Committee and entangle this Committee into those kinds of issues; they must be attended to in the manner that they should. I think I must also make the point, I think, Hon Dlakude has raised this, [and] she would have been the only [who] raised it – I thought many of you would but I do want to add my voice – and I think the point she is making is that collectively, as this Committee, we should be very worried, very worried about the escalating costs, including the issue of rates being increased midstream into the process. I have not heard much of you speaking to that, but Hon Dlakude has raised the point about that. And I think in summarising, it is important that we register that point, that everything has got to be done within reasonable means. And we can see from the trail of correspondence and interaction between the PPSA, the Solicitor-General, and attorneys, that at this point the additional legal support is added. And once that is done, there is then a new hurdle of rates being increased. And so this Committee has to register its concern and worry around that particular issue. I think this… I hear you correctly in saying that when we resume from next week, you are saying we need to conclude on the two further subjects that would have been ventilated. This has to do with the fact that the Public Protector spent six days ventilating issues from her statement. We have her statement, both parts A and B, that the Committee has heard. So over six days, she took us through that, covering these subject matters of CR17, Bosasa, your SARS matters, Gordhan matters; and therefore the suggestion is that when we resume is going to be important. If I am hearing that correctly, which is something that I am going to have to take up and communicate that we make sure that that space is kind of closed and is concluded. It might also be very helpful because the Public Protector would have raised, on the 8th or 9th of May, her concerns around her wanting an opportunity to speak to what the Committee was doing when the Evidence Leaders were assisting the Committee to unpack what evidence has been laid. I am on record, as the Chairperson, indicating that an opportunity would be afforded in the form when the Evidence Leaders take the stand, as well as the fact that when the Members ask questions that the Public Protector already has heads up, and would get further opportunities. But I think I am hearing you today saying concretely, that when we resume, let us prioritise closing that first part of the work that has been done and then continue thereafter, with the remaining parts that will still be covered, which are in writing to us in a sworn affidavit from the Public Protector, covering your Vrede Dairy, the CIEX matters, and other issues relating to matters of competency in that office. So I think that is very clear. And I think your message, colleagues, is well recorded in that way. That is how I would like to summarise the discussion and your own inputs in this regard. Are we agreed to that summary colleagues?
Ms Dlakude: Yes, Hon Chair, your summary is clear.
Mr Maneli: Agreed, Chair.
Ms Mananiso: Chair, it is in order.
Ms Majozi: Supported, Chair.
Ms Siwela: Agreed, Chair.
The Chairperson: Thank you, Hon Members. On that point, therefore, those would have been the matters that we wanted to deliberate on. We will communicate with you the times and everything for the resumption next week. So at that point, I really want to thank you for your participation and your contribution and guidance as Members of the Committee in the manner that I need to lead the process going forward as the Chair. Thank you very much, colleagues. It is now fourteen minutes past eleven. I would like to adjourn the meeting at that point. Thank you.
The meeting was adjourned.
Dyantyi, Mr QR
Denner, Ms H
Dlakude, Ms DE
Gondwe, Dr M
Holomisa, Dr BH
Majozi, Ms Z
Mananiso, Ms JS
Maneli, Mr BM
Mgweba, Ms T
Mileham, Mr K
Nkosi, Mr BS
Nqola, Mr X
Seabi, Mr M A
Siwela, Ms VS
Sukers, Ms ME
Van Minnen, Ms BM
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