“Managing the Challenges: Too Much Legislation, Too Little Oversight, Too Limited Time”


1.       Need to be Realistic About What is Achievable This Year


1.1               In the last quarter of 2007 we shaped our Portfolio Committee programme around the need to “find a necessary balance between our legislative and oversight responsibilities”. We adopted 5 reports (on the Annual Reports of the Department, Legal Aid Board, South African Human Rights Commission and Commission on Gender Equality, and on a visit to Pollsmoor Prison to consider the position of awaiting-trial prisoners) and a further two reports (on the Annual Reports of the Office of the Public Protector and the National Prosecuting Authority) are pending. These reports provide an important part of the basis for our oversight programme for this year.

1.2               However, in shaping our programme this year we have to recognize that we will not be able to find the “necessary balance” and our work will be weighted in favour of our legislative responsibilities. This year is special because: this is the final year of our five-year term; we have a huge legislative load; this is an “election year”; and  parliament will be sitting for a shorter period than usual. So we should not be too ambitious about what we can achieve this year. But at the same, time we should seek to fulfill a significant part of the oversight programme that emerges from our reports. Clearly, we have to make the most productive possible use of our time.  In a sense, in these reports we have set targets for ourselves as a Portfolio Committee – and so, in a way, we have to monitor ourselves, and have oversight of our own work! And we can’t let ourselves down!

1.3               We are facing very specific challenges this year: far too much legislation; not enough space for our oversight role; and a rather short parliamentary year. Hence our programme around “ Managing the Challenges: Too Much Legislation, Too little Oversight, Too Limited Time”.

2.       Legislation


2.1               In view of the 2009 elections, negotiations are underway between the Speaker’s Office, the Leader of Government Business, the multi-party Whips structures and other structures in parliament to cease parliamentary sittings at the end of August and to re-convene for a brief period in October to consider the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement and the Adjustment Appropriations, and other outstanding matters. Some Committees with absolutely urgent legislation may be allowed to meet between August and October, but this is not clear at this stage. 

2.2               Currently the Portfolio Committee is processing the following Bills:


i.                     Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Jurisdiction Bill

ii.                   Child Justice Bill

iii.                  Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill


2.3               The NCOP is still processing the Regulation of  Interceptions of Communication Amendment Bill, South African Judicial Education Institute Billl and the Judicial Services Commission Amendment Bill. We will have to attend to any amendments they might effect to the Bill.


2.4               The Department also intends to introduce the following Bills for the Committee to complete within this years term of parliament:


i.                     National Prosecution Authority Amendment Bill

ii.                   Renaming of High Courts Bill

iii.                  Traditional Courts Bill

iv.                  Reform of Customary Law of Succession Bill

v.                    Legislation Prohibiting ‘Floor-Crossing”


2.5               Others Bills that might be introduced, but not necessarily for processing this year, include:


i.                     Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill

ii.                   Judicial Matters Amendment Bill

iii.                  State Liability Amendment Bill

iv.                  Superior Courts Bill

v.                    Legal Practice Bill

vi.                  Constitution Fifteenth Amendment Bill

vii.                 Constitution Sixteenth Amendment Bill


2.6               We might also receive bills related to “updating” the legislation dealing with the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality (see sections 5.6 v and 5.7 xi below).


2.7               At this stage, it seems that there will be 2 Bills dealing with the DSO – one amending the NPA Act and another amending the SAPS Act. Exactly how these Bills will be processed is not clear at this stage. The specific details of our draft programme (section 9 below) will have to be adjusted once this becomes clear.


3.       Briefing on Department’s Budget


3.1               The budget briefings will be held 6 and 7 May.


3.2               The budget vote debate will be held on ?



4.       Quarterly Reports from Department


4.1               We will receive quarterly reports from the Department on progress in implementing its Strategic Plan and on issues raised by the Committee.


4.2               The first quarterly report will take place on 18 March.



5.       Issues of Follow-Up on Reports Published


5.1               The issues set out below in this section emerge from the 5 reports we adopted. Obviously, the Department and other organisations referred to below may not be able to respond, within the proposed timeframes, to all the issues the Portfolio Committee raises – but there should, at least, be discernible progress in regard to the recommendations in the reports. Tentatively, the issues highlighted in bold below could perhaps be considered as priorities. 

5.2               Of course, given the circumstances (referred to in section 1.2 above), there are issues taken up in these reports that it will not be possible to address this year; they will have to be carried over into the period after the 2009 elections.  While the current Portfolio Committee cannot prescribe to the incoming Portfolio Committee, we should do an “exit report” that the new Portfolio Committee could draw on.

5.3               Most, not all, the issues that need to be addressed are set out below in this section.  They are presented in a crude, condensed shorthand – and to make better sense of them, it will be useful to refer to the relevant sections of the report which are referred to in brackets at the end of each paragraph.  This section of our programme focuses on the issues from our  Reports that need to be addressed and so is a skewed summary of the  Reports and does not capture the achievements of the organisations referred to below – again, for an overall sense of the Committee’s views of these organisations it will be necessary to refer to the full reports.




i.                           Quarterly Briefings from Department on progress in implementing Strategic Plan and recommendations of Portfolio Committee (section 6.1 of Portfolio Committee Report).

ii.                          Need for a more focused, phased strategy (6.2)? Need for Department’s Annual Report to be more closely aligned with its Strategic Plan and for reports on performance to be more closely linked to targets (6.4). Need for more user-friendly Annual Report (6.5).

iii.                       Briefing on revamp of criminal justice system: jointly with other committees, 1st Quarter 2008 (6.21).

iv.                        68% of cases removed from the court roll:  Briefing on challenges & initiatives to improve court performance: jointly with other committees, 1st quarter 2008 (6.9, 6.11, 6,12).

v.                           Need to standardize information across the criminal justice sector (6.13).

vi.                        Concern about qualified audit report (6.15).

vii.                        Among issues emerging from AG’s report to be tracked through Quarterly Meetings:


       Management of Third Party Funds.

       Asset management

       Matters of emphasis identified by AG

       Justice Deposit Account System

       Tightening of internal controls to reduce fraud

       Guardian’s fund

       Department’s spending patterns (monitor in conjunction with   


·               Finalisation of human resources plan.

·               Availability of Quarterly Reports to the AG (6.19).


            viii.        Other issues to be monitored:


·         Improvement of Equality Courts performance.

·         Progress made in finalising Legal Services Charter.

·         Implementation of Victim’s Charter.

·         Performance of Maintenance Courts.

·         Progress made on training of children’s courts clerks.

·         Lack of computer literacy of staff (6.20).


5.5               LEGAL AID BOARD (LAB)


i.                     Annual Report should reflect the quality of the presentation made to the Committee.  Annual Business Plans should also be made available to the Portfolio Committee.  Breakdown of cases should be made clear (5.3).

ii.                  The Legal Aid Board Act needs to be updated to be consistent with the Constitution.  The Legal Aid Guide, which is supposed to be adopted annually by parliament, was last adopted in 2002 – and has not since been tabled to parliament (5.4).

iii.                  Within financial and other constraints, the number of practitioners at courts need to be increased.

iv.                 The LAB needs to do more civil work – also in view of the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act and the Prevention on Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act – which provide for granting of legal aid (5.7).

v.                    Need for access to legal services of poor people who are not indigent. (LAB also discussing with legal profession on how private sector can provide services to the poor who are not classified indigent.) (5.8)

vi.                  Progress on the LAB engaging with SAPS to link systems (5.9).

vii.               Progress on joint projects with the Rural Legal Trust and the Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons (5.9).

viii.               Fees paid to Judicare too low to attract experienced legal practitioners (2.7).

ix.                Unequal resourcing of agencies within the Justice cluster contributes to LAB losing staff, particularly to the NPA (2.7).

x.                   Difficult for LAB to access Judicare practitioners because it does not have access to the files – Legal Aid Board Act needs to be amended to provide for extension of attorney-client privilege to board employees conducting quality reviews of Judicare files.

xi.                 Portfolio Committee to engage further with LAB on employment equity, particularly position of women (5.11, 3.15)

xii.                Portfolio Committee will meet LAB within 6 months.




i.                     Given the way the Annual Report records its statistics, it is difficult to evaluate the SAHRC’s successes in processing complaints (6.2, 6.14, 6.15).

ii.                   Need for material outcomes on the projects on initiation, school violence, the position of refugees and other non-national, and health-care through engagement with the relevant decision-making structures (6.3).

iii.                The government has not ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (6.5).

iv.                  Portfolio Committee to assist the SAHRC, wherever possible, in cooperation with other Portfolio Committees with Departments that do not cooperate with the SAHRC in respect of complaints it investigates (6.6).

v.                   SAHRC has to be amended to be consistent with the 1996 Constitution.  The Bill and amended staff regulations should be introduced by May 2008 (6.7).

vi.                 Portfolio Committee to raise with the Ministry and Speaker’s Office as soon as possible to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of a full-time Commissioner on 1 December 2006 (6.7).

vii.               Portfolio Committee to raise with the Department and Speaker’s Office the need to ensure timeous appointment of new Commissioners - process to begin by mid-2008? Staggering of Commissioner’s terms of office (6.7)? 

viii.             Need for dedicated Information Commissioner – especially in view of the SAHRC’s role in regard to the Promotion of Access to Information Act (6.7).

ix.                 The manner in which salaries and conditions of service is determined seems to be ad hoc – relevance of legislation required in terms of 219(5) of the Constitution (6.8).

x.                  Delay in finalising regulations related to section 28 of the Promotion of the Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Acts (6.9).

xi.                Much more needs to be done to ensure greater cooperation and coordination among Chapter 9 institutions (6.10).

xii.                High vacancy rates (6.11,4.1, 4.2).

xiii.              Portfolio Committee will engage more with the SAHRC on its employment equity plans and targets (6.12).

xiv.               Inconsistencies in some of the figures.  Need for more clear statistics (6.15).




i.                    The CGE Presentation to the Portfolio Committee focussed on the current strategy plans and activities, instead of on the 2006-07 financial years (7.2).  The performance of CGE during 2006-07 was found to be “wanting”.  The Portfolio Committee was unable to assess what the material outcomes of the CGE’s activities during 2006-07 were.  While the new Commissioners cannot be held to account for the previous financial year, surely the senior management is accountable (7.3)?

ii.                   The CGE Annual Report should take into account:


     Correlation between Strategic Plans and Annual Reports.


     Information on handling complaints.


     Clarity on whether targets have been met.


     Better information on performance of provincial offices.


     Need for HR information (7.4).


iii.                Need for co-operation and co-ordination between Portfolio Committee and parliament’s Joint Monitoring Committee (7.5).

iv.                 More progress needed on the Forum of Independent Statutory Bodies and common information system (7.6).

v.                   CGE needs to improve its image in the public and in the media (7.7).

vi.                  Progress on CGE’s “relationship with civil society” (7.8).

vii.               CGE’s difficulties in getting access to official country reports in time (7.9).

viii.               Portfolio Committee feels greater attention should be given to the boy-child (7.10).

ix.                 Portfolio Committee interested in briefing on Gender Barometer at next meeting with CGE (7.11).

x.                  CGE feels Equality Courts performing badly (7.12).

xi.                CGE Act needs to be updated to take into account the 1996 Constitution (even difference between Commission for Gender Equality and Commission on Gender Equality) (7.13).

xii.                CGE is dissatisfied with the current system of remuneration and allowance of office bearers of the Chapter 9 institutions (7.14).

xiii.              CGE would like to respond in an appropriate parliamentary structure to the report of the Ad hoc Committee on Chapter 9 and associated institutions.

xiv.             The Committee will raise with the Minister the need to finalise the Chairperson of the CGE (Decided by Portfolio Committee, but accidentally left out of report).

xv.                The Committee will arrange a meeting with the CGE within 6 months to engage further on its strategic plan and review progress (7.18).




i.                     Portfolio Committee needs to be strategic and selective in our oversight targets regarding position of awaiting-trial prisoner (ATP). Pursue modest, incremental increases, in view of challenges (6.1).

ii.                  Need initial written response from Departments within 2 months (6.2). (Received letter from DG of JCD and discussions held with Portfolio Committee Chairperson)

iii.                66,8% of inmates ATP unacceptable. Need improvements (6.4).

iv.                 High number of children ATP (6.5).

v.                    Need to use 63(A) of Criminal Procedure Act for release of ATP unable to pay bail (6.6).

vi.                 Report from LAB within 2 months on difficulties in visiting Pollsmoor more often (6.8). (Report received.)

vii.               Need for more information on ATP to be given to Department of Correctional Services (6.9)

viii.               Need for magistrates to visit Pollsmoor Prison. Portfolio Committee to discuss this with the Magistrates Commission and Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons (6.10).  (Report Received from Magistrates)

ix.                Need for greater co-operation of all relevant state structures (6.11, 6.12).

x.                  ATP children not allowed to take part in programmes for sentenced children (6.13).

xi.                Need for more places of safety (6.14).

xii.                Need to divert pregnant women who commit petty offences (6.17).

xiii.              Need for Portfolio Committee to co-operate more effectively with Correctional Services Portfolio Committee (6.1).

xiv.               Follow-up meeting with stakeholders within 6 months (6.3). 




i.                     As mentioned in section 1 above, given the specific circumstances of the year ahead, it will not be possible to address all the issues raised above. But we should aim to see as much progress as possible, despite the challenges.

ii.                   Through engagement with the above institutions we should seek to arrive at consensus on what is do-able before the 2009 elections. The new Portfolio Committee after the elections will have to consider taking up the outstanding issues.


6.       NDPP Report


6.1               At this stage, it is not clear how parliament will process any report from the Ginwala Inquiry into the suspension of the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Vusi Pikoli. It is possible that our Committee may play a role.


7.       Oversight Visits/Study Tours


7.1               In view of the special circumstances of this year, we will obviously not have the time to undertake any oversight visits or study tours.


8.       We’ll Do What We Can – and That’s Much!


8.1               Obviously, we are going to have a most challenging year! But there’s no reason why we can’t still do a lot. Let’s try anyway!



9.       Details of the Programme


9.1 The specific details of the programme follow on the next page:







































Justice and Constitutional Development Portfolio Committee


Draft Programme for 1st Half of 2008











Tues, 05 February

10:00 – 16:00

(1) Overview of Child Justice Bill (Dept. of Justice)


(2) Submissions from the public on the Bill


V 454





Wed, 06 February

10:00 – 16:00

(1)      Overview of Jurisdiction of Regional Courts A/B(Dept. Justice and Const. Development)


(2)      Submissions from the public on the Bill


V 454





Tues, 12 February 

10:00 – 13:00

Child Justice Bill


E 249





Wed, 13 February

10:00 – 13:00

Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill


E 249





Fri, 15 February

09:30 – 12:00

Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill







Tues, 19 February

10:00 – 13:00

Annual Report of the Office of the Public Protector







Wed, 20 February

10:00 – 12:30

Annual Reports of

i)                     National Prosecuting Authority

ii)                   Special Investigation Unit







Fri, 22 February

09:30 – 12:30

  1. Consideration of Draft Rules made in terms of section 7 (3) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000) (PAJA Rules)


  1. Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill


E 249





Tues, 26 February

10:00 – 13:00

Annual Report of the NPA







Wed, 27 February

10:00 – 13:00

i. PAJA Rules

ii. Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill

iii. Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment Bill

S 35





Tues, 04 March

10:00 – 13:00

i. Mandating Procedures of Provinces Bill

ii. Jurisdiction of Regional Courts Amendment

S 12A





Wed, 05 March

10:00 – 13:00

Regional Courts Jurisdiction Bill

GH 41





Fri, 07 March

09:30 – 12:00

Child Justice Bill

M 46





Tues, 11 March

10:00 – 13:00

Child Justice Bill

V 475





Wed, 12 March

10:00 – 13:00

Child Justice Bill

Room 1 (90 Plein)





Fri, 14 March

09:30 – 12:30

Child Justice Bill

S 12 A





Tues, 18 March

10:00 – 13:00

Quarterly Report of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (or Review of Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Budget?)

V 454





Wed, 19 March

10:00 – 13:00

Child Justice Bill (or Review of Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Budget?)

Room 3 (90 Plein)


*31 March – 2nd May

Constituency Period


2nd Quarter Issues:

Tues, 6 May

10:00 – 17:00

Review of Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Budget (or “DSO Bill”?)






Wed, 7 May

10:00 – 17:00

Review of Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s Budget (or “DSO Bill”?)






Fri, 9 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow






Tues, 13 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow






Wed, 14 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow






Tues, 20 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow






Wed, 21 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow






Tues, 27 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Wed, 28 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Fri, 30 May

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Tues, 3 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Wed, 4 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Fri, 6 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Tues, 10 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Wed, 11 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Fri, 13 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Tues, 24 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow


Wed, 25 June

10:00 – 13:00

Agenda to follow



Please note:


1.             The above is a draft programme.

2.             Given several uncertainties, it is not possible at this stage to provide specific details of the agenda for the days we sit from early May onwards.  Hopefully, these details will be provided by the end of March.  But the issues we will have to deal with include the following:

i.                    “DSO Bill”

ii.                  Traditional Courts Bill

iii.                Child Justice Bill

iv.                 Legal Aid Board : Review of Progress on Annual Report Issues

v.                   South African Human Right Commission: Review of Progress on Annual Report Issues

vi.                 Commission for Gender Equality: Review of Progress on Annual Report Issues

vii.               Pollsmoor Prison: Review of Progress Since Study Visit to Pollsmoor (Joint Meeting with Correctional Services Portfolio Committee)

3.       The Committee will also meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30pm to 5:30pm or later, as and when necessary. (Younger members like Bulelani and Carol can have a siesta from 2:00 to 2:30pm, while older members, like JJ, can gossip in the House during this time!)