A record of recent events and developments of a procedural nature in the National Assembly of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. This third issue covers the period from July to December 2000.
PRESIDING OFFICERS AND OTHER OFFICE BEARERS
The House adopted a resolution on 21 June moved by Mr JH Van der Merwe, Chief Whip of the IFP, congratulating the then Deputy Chairperson of Committees, Dr K Rajoo, on his appointment as Consul-General for South Africa in Illinois, USA. Following his departure, on 12 Sep-tember the House adopted a motion by Mr van der Merwe appointing Mr MF Cassim as the new Deputy Chairperson of Committees. Like Dr Rajoo, Mr Cassim is a member of the IFP.
After extensive consultation had taken place, and on the basis of the request made to her, the Speaker, on 1 November 2000, appointed Dr CP Mulder as whip of these parties, namely the FF, UCDP, PAC, FA, MF, AEB and AZAPO, with effect from 8 November 1999 (the date of the initial request for a whip).
5. REQUESTS FOR SNAP DEBATES
Among the reasons given for declining requests were:
Requests for snap debates in terms of Rules 103 and 104 were also received from the Chief Whip of the Majority Party. In response to these requests the Chief Whip of the Majority Party was initially informed on behalf of the Speaker’s Office that his position as Chief Whip offered him the opportunity to arrange such a debate through the programming process without having to apply for it, and that Rules 103 and 104 were "ordinarily used as a mechanism to allow opposition parties to seek the intervention of the Speaker in the programming process".
However, the Speaker subsequently, in a letter to the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, clarified that he had been given incorrect information and confirmed the correct position regarding Rules 103 and 104, as follows:
6. AMENDMENTS TO BILL PUT DIRECTLY IN HOUSE
When this happens, the Speaker may either recommit the bill for consideration to the committee which considered it; or put the amendments for decision by the Assembly and then the Second Reading of the bill as a whole, including any approved amendment.
On 3 November 2000 (the last sitting day of the year), on conclusion of the Second Reading debate on the Chiropractors, Homeopaths and Allied Health Service Professions Second Amendment Bill [B66B-2000], six amendments which had been placed on the Order Paper in this way, were put for decision by the House. After a division, the amendments were rejected. The bill was thereupon read a second time.
The Deputy Speaker concurred that an important point had been made and added that the issue would have to be considered, since it could be one that the House would want to include in the Rules.
On 1 November 2000, during Question Time, the Chairperson of Committees ruled that because a question to the Minister for Minerals and Energy that had been placed on the Question Paper dealt with a bill that was due for debate in the House on 3 November, supplementary questions would anticipate the debate and would therefore not be allowed.
In a ruling given on 27 September, the Deputy Speaker directed the member who had given the notice to withdraw the reflection, pointing out that accusations were equally offensive and damaging when made indirectly or by using quotations.
She added that whereas unparliamentary expressions in notices of motion were normally dealt with by written communication with the member concerned, in this instance she was giving a ruling in the House because a point of order objecting to the reflection had been raised at the first opportunity.
The member withdrew the expression.
QUESTION TIME IN THE HOUSE
On 21 June 2000 the House adopted a resolution to extend the period for the trial run until 31 October 2000. The resolution also required that the revised guidelines for the extended trial period, as amended by the Chief Whip's Forum, be published in the ATC document. This was done on 17 July 2000.
The changes to the guidelines included the following:
On 13 October 2000 Mr AC Nel, on behalf of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, moved a motion to further extend the period for the trial run to 1 November 2000, and on 2 November 2000 the Chief Whip, once again, moved a motion extending the trial run to 14 February 2001.
In instances where provision was made for party responses to the statements (ie all statements except that by the Minister of Finance) a motion was adopted in advance specifying party speaking times.
It was agreed that while the Economic Cluster would answer questions on the scheduled date, questions to the Minister of Finance would be held over until the following Wednesday, ie 4 October. (For this purpose, Question Time was extended by half an hour on that day.)
A debate on the statement in the form of a subject for discussion was conducted on 2 November 2000.
In view of the nature of the issues discussed and the fact that the discussion had begun in Parliament, the President and Mr Leon then agreed that the correspondence should be made available to all Members of Parliament.
Accordingly the correspondence was submitted to the Speaker by the Parliamentary Counsellor of the President and tabled in full on 4 October (ATC p 815).
SCOPA presented its report to the House on 30 October 2000 (ATC, 2 November, pp 1054-9). In its report SCOPA expressed its concern about various aspects of the arms procurement process and recommended an independent and expert forensic investigation. It therefore recommended that an exploratory meeting, convened by the Committee, be held "within two weeks of the tabling of this Report", to which appropriate investigative bodies would be invited "so that the best combination of skills, legal mandates and resources can be found for such an investigation". SCOPA indicated in its Report that a second report would be issued early in 2001.
The Assembly adopted SCOPA’s report without debate on 3 November 2000.
The Disciplinary Committee, which is established in terms of Rule 191, consisted of a representative from each of the following parties: ANC, DP, IFP, New NP, UDM and ACDP. In addition, a representative from the FF, UCDP and PAC were designated to serve on the Committee. After conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations, which in one case involved obtaining an external forensic report, the Committee presented its report on each of the cases to the Speaker.
In respect of one of the members concerned, the Speaker on 31 October announced her decision in the House. That decision, based on the findings and recommendations of the Committee, was that:
The member received the reprimand standing, and afterwards apologised to the House for his conduct and expressed his regret. The text of the reprimand was printed in full in the Minutes (Minutes, p 1011).
The Speaker went on to inform the House that the Disciplinary Committee had put forward various proposals to regulate members' travel facilities more effectively and to control related costs. These proposals had been referred to the Joint Sub-committee on Support for Members with the request that they urgently undertake a revision of those facilities.
The Speaker’s decision and report in respect of the allegations against the second member were held over as the member was not able to be present in the House during the last few days of the annual session.
LEGISLATION AND COMMITTEES
On 20 September 2000 the JTM found, in terms of Joint Rule 160(6), that the bill was a mixed section 75/76 bill, since it included provisions to which the procedure in section 75 of the Constitution applied as well as provisions to which the procedure in section 76 of the Constitution applied.
Since there is no procedure by means of which Parliament could pass such a mixed bill, the Speaker and the Chairperson of the NCOP declared it out of order, removed it from the Order Paper and referred it back to the Minister on 28 September 2000. The Minister was informed that the bill could not be proceeded with in the form in which it had been submitted, and that a corrected version or versions of the proposed legislation dealing exclusively with section 75 or section 76 provisions could be re-introduced in Parliament.
The Select Committee on Finance of the National Council of Provinces, having considered the bill, and noted with concern that the principal Act (the Banks Act, 1990) and the amending bill were gender-insensitive, reported the matter to the Joint Monitoring Committee, and recommended that the National Treasury correct this within 12 months of adoption of their report by the NCOP (which took place on 6 October). The select committee also noted the urgency of amending the Interpretation Act to facilitate gender-sensitive drafting.
The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Women supported the select committee's call to the National Treasury and appealed to the Ministry of Justice to table an amended Interpretation Act as a matter of urgency. The Joint Monitoring Committee's report was not considered by the House during the period under review.
Intelligence matters do not fall under any of the Assembly portfolio committees. Oversight of the intelligence services is performed by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence established by the Intelligence Services Control Act, 1994. It is also a function of the Joint Standing Committee to consider and make recommendations on all proposed legislation relating to intelligence activities. The Joint Standing Committee operates in accordance with its own rules. These rules do not include a procedure for dealing with a bill after its introduction in Parliament.
In the light of these considerations, the Bill could not immediately be referred to a committee upon introduction. A political decision was required on what route the Bill should follow. No decision had been taken by the time Parliament went into recess in July.
During the recess the Speaker and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, acting in accordance with Joint Rule 138, after consultation decided jointly, on 1 September, to refer the bill to an ad hoc joint committee. This recess decision, which was subject to subsequent ratification by both Houses, was printed on the ATC of 11 September.
Shortly after the resumption of the session, after further consideration, both Houses adopted a resolution on 14 September referring the bill to separate ad hoc House committees and instructing each committee to confer with the corresponding committee of the other House and with the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (Minutes, NA and NCOP, 14 September). These House resolutions were prompted by procedural considerations – namely, that the bill was a Section 75 bill and that account therefore had to be taken of the different constitutional powers of the two Houses in respect of such bills.
These House resolutions were taken before the earlier decision by the presiding officers to refer the bill to a joint committee was presented to the Houses for ratification. The presiding officers therefore formally withdrew their earlier decision by announcement on the ATC on 21 September.
The bill was passed by the Assembly on 2 November and by the National Council of Provinces on 13 November 2000.
… that the Speaker of the National Assembly takes the necessary steps to ensure that not only this report but also more specifically matters regarding sections 181 and 41 of the Constitution be raised in the Legislature with a view to a pronouncement regarding the accountability of the Minister and any possible sanction which the Legislature might consider appropriate.
On 1 March the House adopted an interim report of the Committee requesting three months to complete its work, and on 9 June adopted a further report requesting an extension of the deadline to 31 August 2000. However the Committee was not able to complete its work and on 3 November the House (with the dissent of the DP) resolved that notwithstanding the report adopted in June, the Committee's deadline be extended to 28 February 2001.
Joint Rule 62 provides for a smaller committee to take policy decisions during a recess period that would normally be made by the Joint Rules Committee had Parliament been in session.
The decisions of the Joint Rule 62 Committee were published in the ATC of 23 November as required in terms of Joint Rule 62(4).
PROGRAMMING OF BUSINESS
The Joint Programme Subcommittee, whose function it is to consider such requests, was immediately convened. The Joint Subcommittee was informed that in terms of Section 154(2) of the Constitution, bills affecting the powers and functions of local government must be published for public comment before introduction in Parliament. The bill would accordingly be published immediately if the request for fast-tracking was approved.
Noting that the bill had been identified as a Section 75 bill (that is, an ordinary bill not affecting the provinces), the Joint Subcommittee approved the request with the object of having the bill passed by both Houses by 24 November. The Speaker thereupon announced the Joint Subcommittee's decision in the Assembly, adding that the House would therefore have to meet once more that year to consider the bill after receiving a report from the relevant portfolio committee. The date agreed upon for the Assembly was Monday, 20 November. The Assembly ratified the fast-tracking decision (NA Minutes, p 1062). A similar statement was made in the NCOP the same day (NCOP Minutes, p 1067).
In considering timeframes to enable the bill to be passed in time, the Joint Subcommittee had agreed that the bill should be tabled by no later than 16 November. However, public comment and consultation following upon the publication of the original bill resulted in the submission to Parliament of a bill which differed substantially from the original version. Furthermore, the new bill was identified as a Section 76 bill (that is, a bill affecting the provinces and requiring mandates from the provincial legislatures).
As the new bill was substantially different, it would also have to be published for public comment. In a press statement issued on 17 November, the Speaker therefore stated that it was not possible for the new bill to be considered by Parliament in November as originally intended. The Assembly meeting on Monday, 20 November, had accordingly been postponed and the Assembly would resume business in 2001 in accordance with the parliamentary programme as previously agreed.
Prior to the Joint Sitting, the Defence Force members were guests at a lunch hosted by the presiding officers. At the lunch, a certificate signed by both presiding officers recognising the role of the SANDF, was handed to the Chief of the Defence Force. The certificate was displayed in the Chamber during the sitting. (Joint Sitting Minutes 5/10.)
STATUTORY FUNCTIONS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND RELATIONS WITH OTHER STATE BODIES
The Act stipulates that the National Assembly must, in an open and transparent manner, determine by lot which councillors initially serve for two and four years respectively.
On 14 September 2000, on a motion by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Majority Party, the House designated the Deputy Speaker to conduct the lot on behalf of the National Assembly. On Tuesday, 19 September, the Deputy Speaker conducted the lot in an open meeting held in a committee room, to which members of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, and whips of all parties, had been invited. The following names of councillors who would serve for two years were drawn:
Ms YT Carrim, Mr WH Currie and Ms L Lloyd.
On 1 November the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs reported that it had considered an application by the National Agricultural Marketing Council for the implementation of proposed statutory measures in the fresh deciduous and dried deciduous fruit industries. The committee had recommended that the measures be approved, provided the levies collected be paid to a statutory trust or body that has minis-terial representation. [ATC 8 November p1074].
The Select Committee on Land and Environment Affairs of the NCOP also approved the levies [ATC 31 October p1018].
The Speaker announced that in terms of the discretion afforded her by Rule 77(1), she had determined that the House would decide between the two nominees using the electronic voting system. Instead of using the system to take a separate decision in favour of or against each candidate, members were asked to press one button to indicate their preference for one of the nominees, or the other button for the other nominee. Using this method, Adv Madasa was designated for appointment to the Commission.
On 27 September the House adopted a report of the committee recommending the following candidates (in order of preference) for consideration by the President in appointing five full-time members of the Commission:
Yoliswa Makhasi, Ntsokolo Ishmail Mbalula, Daniel van Vuuren, Petros Nketu Matima, Ngwanakopi Gladys Ramushu, Langanane Lucy Catherine Mphelo and Vuyani Dyantyi.
PARLIAMENTARY INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
The report of the delegation was tabled on 2 November.
On 14 September, the House adopted a motion to appoint an ad hoc committee, with power to confer with a corresponding NCOP committee, to consider the proposed formation of a Pan-African Parliament. The committee would consist of 21 members of the Assembly and complete its task by 6 October 2000. On 6 October, the House resolved to extend from 6 to 30 October 2000 the date by which the committee had to complete its task.
The report of the ad hoc committee was tabled on 30 October and adopted by the House on the same day after a debate. The report stated that the Committee had considered a draft protocol of the Pan-African Parliament, confining itself to matters of principle, and had agreed on certain guidelines for the Parliament. The protocol was to be ratified at a meeting of members of African Parliaments to be held in Pretoria in November.
At the meeting, which took place from 7 to 10 November in Pretoria, agreement was reached on the Draft Protocol to the African Economic Community Treaty relating to the Pan-African Parliament. It was also agreed that the Protocol would be submitted to the Council of Ministers and thereafter to the Organisation of African Unity Heads of States for adoption in 2001. The Draft Protocol was tabled by the presiding officers of the two Houses on 17 November 2000.
In terms of section 231(2) of our Constitution, such agreements bind the Republic only after they have been approved by resolution in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
On 1 November the Speaker referred the Constitutive Act and the Explanatory Memorandum (which had been tabled on 30 October) to the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Portfolio Committee on Finance and the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, for consideration and report. The Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, after conferring with other committees, was to submit an interim report by not later than 16 February 2001, and a final report by 15 March 2001. (ATC 1/11)
In a subsequent motion adopted on 6 June 2000, the House resolved inter alia that "the delegation must, after the completion of its mission, present a full report to Parliament", and instructed it to "observe the election campaign in the run-up to the elections, the casting of votes during the elections and subsequently the counting of the votes".
The report of the South African Parliamentary Observer Mission was tabled on 13 September 2000 (ATC p 678) and debated on 14 September 2000. After the debate the report was adopted, the FF and the AEB dissenting.
Last modified: 18 April 2001