Date: 12 October 2005
To Chief Whip of the Majority Party
From T Molukanele/ M K Mansura
Subject: PROPOSED REDUCTION OF COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP
1.At the meeting of the Chief Whips' Forum this morning you asked the NA Table to advise on the reduction in membership of committees in terms of Rules of Parliament. You also asked for proposed party breakdown if the membership of a committee is reduced from 17 to 13 members.
2.In terms of the Rules parties are entitled to be represented in committees in substantially the same proportion as the proportion in which they are represented in the Assembly, except where the number of members in the committee does not allow for all parties to be represented (Rule 125)
In addition the Constitution provides for the participation of minority parties in committees in a manner consistent with democracy (sect 57(2)(a)).
3.The Rules Committee determines the number of members on committees and the party representation on committees - unless the Rules provide for
4. The composition of all portfolio committees and certain other committees is 17 members as follows: ANC - 10; DA - 2; IFP - 1; other parties 4 members.
5.In considering party representation if the total membership is reduced to 13, account should be taken of the new party representation as well as the provision in the Rules that allows for any member of the Assembly to be present and to speak on any matter before a committee (Rule 153(2))
6. Should the total membership be reduced to 13 members the possible party allocation could be:
ANC - 8; DA - 2; IFP - 1; other parties 2 or
ANC - 7; DA - 2; IFP - 1; other parties 3
7. I attach the present party representation for information.
COMPLAINTS BY MR JAYENDRA NAIDOO ABOUT REFERENCE TO HIM IN THE ASSEMBLY
Prepared by k Hahndiek: Secretary to the National Assembly
(1) Mr Jayendra Naidoo's attorneys on his behalf submitted a complaint concerning remarks made by Ms De Lille in the Assembly that, it is claimed, are damaging to his reputation.
(2) Mr Naidoo requests:
(a) some form of redress for Mr Naidoo within Parliament, and
(b) consideration of proposed rule amendments to protect the rights of ordinary citizens in future.
MS DE LILLE'S REMARKS
(1) The remarks complained of were contained in a member's statement made by Ms De Lille in the Assembly on Tuesday, 21 June.
(2) The remarks were made under the protection of members' constitutional freedom of speech in Parliament.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR REDRESS
(3) The new Powers and Privileges Act, 2004, specifically provides in section 25 that "(1) A person, other than a member, who feels aggrieved by a statement or remark made by a member in or before a House or committee about that person, may submit a written request to the Secretary to have a response recorded".
(4) The request by Mr Naidoo's lawyers should be regarded as having been submitted in terms of this section.
(5)The Act requires, in Section 12, that the Assembly must appoint a standing committee to deal with privileges issues. Concerning requests received from the public to have a response recorded, Section 25 goes on to specify that -
(2)The committee referred to must subject to the standing rules consider the request and if approved, published the response of the person in the appropriate parliamentary paper'.
(6)The absence of a committee as envisaged in the Act and of rules for processing such a request, does not prevent a complainant from submitting a request to the Assembly for redress
PROPOSALS TO AMEND THE RULES
Mr Naidoo's attorneys propose a range of rule amendments to protect the rights of ordinary citizens in future.
RECOMMENDATIONS BY SPEAKER
(1)Consideration of the request is time-bound.
(2)In the absence of the envisaged standing committee, the Speaker requests the Rules Committee to consider one of two options:
(a) Establish Task Team which could be mandated to assess the matter and advise the Speaker accordingly, or
(b) Mandate the Speaker to establish the Task Team herself with the same mandate.
(3)Concerning the rule amendments proposed by Mr Naidoo, the Speaker has directed that these be referred to the Joint Rules Subcommittee which is engaged in considering rule changes. (if in this process matters of policy arise, the Subcommittee would seek direction from the Joint Rules Committee in due course).
Oversight Mechanism for the Auditor General
1. There is a Committee called the Standing Committee on the Auditor General that consists of 13 members.
2.(a) The parties must appoint the members of the committee and advise the Speaker accordingly. The appointed members names must be published in the ATC
(b) The Standing Committee on the Auditor General must elect from one of its members a Chairperson.
3. The Standing Committee on the Auditor General must -
(a) in terms of section 193 of the Constitution, recommend to the President through the Speaker to Parliament, the appointment of the Auditor General
(b) assist and protect the Office of the Auditor-General in order to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness of the Auditor-General
(c) advise the National Assembly, on matters pertaining to the functioning of the Office of the Auditor General.
(d) consult the person appointed as AG and make recommendations to the President regarding the conditions of employment.
(e) annually appoint an independent external auditor to audit the accounts, financial statements, financial management, performance audit and performance information of the Auditor- General, and consider communication from the audit committee of the Auditor-General.
(e)The Standing Committee on the Auditor General must annually consider
(i.) The budget and business plan of the Auditor-General; and submit its
recommendations to the Speaker for tabling in the NA, and to the National Treasury;
(ii.) the accounting standards used for the annual financial statements of the Auditor-General ;4
(iii. The determination of the basis for the calculation of the audit fees;
(iv.) The retention of the surplus funds as reflected in the financial statements;
(v.) reports from the Deputy Auditor-General in terms of section 43(5)(b);
(vi.) the annual report of the Auditor-General;
(vii.) notices in terms of section 45(2) & (3);
(viii.) reports provided for in section 10 of the Public Audit Act; (ix.) the code of conduct issued by the AG regarding the standards of professional conduct, any disciplinary steps for misconduct.
(x.) The appointment of the Deputy Auditor-General.
(f) The Standing Committee on the Auditor General must also consider -
(i) Standards for audits, nature and scope of audits and the procedure for the handling of complaints relating to audits;
(ii) Draft regulations of the Auditor-General.
(g) The National Assembly may request advice from the Standing Committee on the Auditor General on any matter related to the Auditor-General.
(h) The Standing Committee on the Auditor General may not consider the audit reports produced by the Auditor-General in terms of section 4 of the Public Audit Act, or budgets or business plans other than that contemplated in par (e)(i) above.
Proposals: Re Oversight Committee on the Auditor General.
1 Section 57 (2) (b) requires that the national Assembly afford an opportunity for minority parties to participate in the activities of the Assembly and its Committees. For this reason and to prevent perceptions that the oversight Committee being driven by a political agenda of any political party. It is important that this be a multi-party Committee, with all parties including the smaller ones. Agreeing that their representatives regard their participation in this Committee as taking precedence over all other activities. Above all, this Committee must not experience quorum problems or lack of continuity.
2 The mandate of the Committee is to exercise oversight over a Chapter 9 institution and therefore the Committee should perform its function in a an impartial was as is possible.
3 Given the work load of this Committee and the time deadlines that it will have to meet, it would be it would be unwise to load the work of this Committee on to another Committee. Moreover there are certain specific skills that will be required for the Committee to function optimally.
4 Parties should give preference to appointing people who have a background on at least one of the following disciplines accounting, auditing, human resources, corporate governance and company law.
5 The Committee should not be too large, preferably not in excess of 10 to 12 people. (The Audit commission, which is the predecessor of this Committee consisted of eleven members). It might be necessary to negotiate the participation of smaller parties with parties concerned.
6 The Budget of the Committee should allow for travel , preferably on a rotational basis , for oversight visits to nine provincial offices, as well as the Head Office of the Auditor General. It should also cater for the seeking of professional advice as required and for training for individual members.
7. The Secretary to the Committee should preferably be someone with a background in company law and must be a professional minute taker.
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[PMG note: Endnotes not included. Email