In a virtual meeting, the Parliamentary Legal Services briefed the Portfolio Committee on adopting the public hearings report on the Public Administration Management Amendment Bill [B10 - 2023], and considered the motion of desirability for the Bill.
After adopting the report and the motion of desirability, the Committee went through the various clauses of the Bill. The Parliamentary Legal Services sought permission to rephrase and redrafting Clauses 4, 6, 8 and 9, which the Committee approved. However, the Committee also requested a presentation of the redraft in the coming week.
Members also expressed concerns regarding Clause 14, particularly Sections 17A and B, highlighting potential litigation issues. It was recommended that the parties contesting Clause 14 should review the redraft and engage further to determine if their concerns had been addressed after the redraft. The EFF reserved its position on the clause.
Adoption of public hearings report on PAMA Bill [B10 - 2023]
Mr Julius Ngoepe, Committee Content Advisor, delivered the report pertaining to the public hearings on the Public Administration Management Amendment (PAMA) Bill [B10-2023]. The Committee examined the report, analysing its contents page by page.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) said the Committee had been afforded ample time to thoroughly review and engage with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) regarding the submission of the Bill. She proposed the adoption of the report as an accurate representation of the public hearings' outcomes.
The Chairperson concurred with the adoption of the report without any further amendments.
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Motion of desirability of the PAMA Bill
Mr Ngoepe said that in accordance with standard parliamentary procedure, it was customary for a Committee to first carry out a motion of desirability before embarking on a clause-by-clause discussion of a Bill. If the Bill was found to be undesirable during this initial motion, it would not be subject to further discussion. Conversely, if it was deemed desirable, the Committee would proceed with the detailed clause-by-clause deliberation of the Bill.
In response to this explanation, Ms Ntuli proposed a motion to adopt the Bill, based on its desirability.
Clause by clause deliberations: PAMA Bill
Mr Ngoepe noted that this process had been undertaken by the Committee. Initially, the DPSA had presented the Bill to the Committee, after which the Committee had advertised the Bill for public hearings. Subsequently, in collaboration with the National School of Government (NSG) and the Parliamentary Legal Services, the Department addressed and responded to the matters raised during the public hearings.
Clause 1 – Definitions
Ms Ntuli proposed the adoption of Clause 1, including the amendment and wording provided by the NSG.
Clause 2 – Individual Transfer
Ms Ntuli moved the adoption of Clause 2 without any amendment, as indicated.
Clause 3 – Secondment
Ms Ntuli and Ms M Kibi (ANC) moved the adoption of Clause 3
Clause 4 – Institutions
Ms Ntuli moved the adoption of Clause 4
Clause 5 – Conducting business with the State.
Ms. Ntuli conveyed her acceptance of Clause 5, and proposed its adoption. She based her recommendation on the comprehensive explanation provided regarding the marking of papers and the prescribed regulations by the Minister. Further, she suggested that additional research and consideration should be dedicated to the issue of disclosures related to conducting business with government as part of the policy direction.
Ms Telana Halley, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, informed the Committee that the Parliamentary Legal Services, the State Law Adviser, and the DPSA planned to convene a meeting on Friday to address various drafting issues within the Bill. She proposed the development of a more refined and concise drafting for the section, while preserving the original intent of the provision. She also requested the Committee's permission to present an improved draft of Clause 6, along with a list of proposed changes.
The Committee authorised the Legal Services to rephrase the clause.
Clause 7 – Definition of Employee in Disclosure Framework
No amendments were proposed, and a motion was proposed to adopt the Clause.
Clause 8 – NSG’s Compulsory Training
No amendments were proposed. The Legal Advisor also sought the Committee's approval to present the agreement between the Department and the NSG, based on the Clause's reformulation. The Committee granted their approval.
Clause 9 – NSG as a Department
Ms Halley reported that the Legal Services had collaborated with the DPSA, and the DPSA, in turn, had engaged with the NSG to produce an improved redraft of the Clause. She requested the Committee's permission to present the results of this redraft to the Committee.
The Committee granted permission for the Legal Services to proceed with the redraft.
Clause 10 and Clause 11 remained unamended, and the Committee proceeded to request the adoption of both Clauses.
Clause 12 – Norms and Standards
The Committee agreed to adopt the Clause.
Clause 13 remained unamended, and Ms Ntuli proposed its adoption.
The Chairperson emphasised the concerns raised during the public hearings regarding Clause 14, particularly in relation to Section 17A and Section 17B.
Ms Kibi and Dr J Nothnagel (ANC) proposed the adoption of Clause 14.
Ms Ntuli, while supportive of the adoption of Clause 14, expressed concerns about whether the rephrasing by the Legal Services would effectively address the objections raised by the organised union.
Ms R Komane (EFF) voiced her reservations about the amendments to the Bill, and questioned their legitimacy concerning the engagement of participants who had raised objections. She highlighted that the purpose of the hearing and engagement had been to determine how the public would engage with these amendments, and whether they would resonate with those who had objected. She called for a more comprehensive process regarding the amendments, and reserved her support.
Ms Halley clarified that the major issue revolved around the term "public administration," which included municipalities and public entities, and not the use of the term "public service." The DPSA's suggestion aimed to address these concerns, with the intention of Section 17A being to establish norms and standards to prevent the performance of duties outside these norms and standards. The suggested amendment to Section 17B aimed to address the concerns of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). However, she explained that a substantial change in the subject matter of the Bill would require permission from the House. She also noted that such changes would not necessitate a new round of public participation, as they would not alter the original intent of the Bill.
Legal Services was open to providing an opportunity for COSATU to review the redraft, which should be made available for the public participation process.
The Chairperson reiterated that while the Committee had accepted the amendments, further clarification of these clauses was necessary to prevent grievances from concerned parties, as witnessed during the public hearing.
The Committee recommended that the parties contesting Clause 14 should review the redraft and engage further, to determine if their concerns had been addressed after the redraft.
Clause 15 - Alignment of the Municipal System Act
No amendments were required. The Committee moved for its adoption.
Chairperson's closing remarks
The Chairperson stressed the importance of Legal Services returning to present the redraft of the authorised Clauses 6, 8, and 9. She also mentioned the need to brief the Committee on the results of the engagement with organised labour regarding Clause 14, Sections 7A and 7B.
She acknowledged the reservations by Ms Komane, and expressed her appreciation to all Members, the Department, the legal team of Parliament, and the support staff.
The meeting was adjourned.
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