The House establishes a range of portfolio committees and assigns a portfolio of provincial government affairs to each committee. These portfolio committees were established during the previous term and may change in the current term. Each portfolio committee consists of 10 full members. Parties are entitled to be represented in all committees in substantially the same proportion as the proportion in which they are represented in the Legislature, except where the Standing Rules prescribe the composition of a committee.
Minority Party representation in committees representation is be determined by their collective representation in the Legislature. No minority party may appoint more than one member from that party as either a full or an alternate member on a committee.
Functions of Portfolio Committees: Portfolio Committees must deal with Bills and other matters falling within its ambit of activity, as determined by the Constitution, legislation, the Standing Rules or by resolution of the House. Portfolio Committees must maintain oversight of The provincial executive authority falling within its portfolio, including the implementation of legislation; Any provincial executive organ of state falling within its portfolio, and any other body or institution in respect of which oversight has been assigned to it. Portfolio Committees may monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations concerning any such provincial executive organ of state or other body or institution and may consult or liaise with any executive organ of state, institution or other body within national, provincial or local spheres of government, and must perform any other functions, tasks or duties assigned to it in terms of the Constitution, legislation, Standing Rules or resolutions of the House.
Portfolio Committee Procedures and Rules; The Standing Rules provide portfolio committees with their mandates. Committees offer a setting which facilitates the detailed scrutiny of legislation, oversight of government activities and interaction with the public. It is necessary to consider all committee reports because committees work as intermediary bodies between various interest groups and government, and serve as an entry point for citizens into the work of the KZN Legislature.
In addition, the work of committees include study visits that entail physical inspections, conversations with people and assessing the impact of service delivery. PCs draft and adopt reports which contain recommendations which the Houses must consider. In exercising oversight, PCs often obtain first-hand knowledge from people who are engaged in the direct implementation of specific programmes and/or who are directly responsible for service delivery. In order to evaluate the work of government from a broader perspective, committees may invite experts from outside government to provide background knowledge and analyses on relevant issues.
NB: No portfolio committee may consider, enquire into or report on any matter which does not fall directly within the subject for which it was appointed, or which is not based on a paper which has been referred to it, as stated or implied in its terms of reference.
Meetings of Committees: Meetings are a major part of committee work. The first meeting of a committee must be convened by the Secretary within three weeks of the appointment of the committee members. Committee meets as determined in accordance with the Rules and decisions, directives and guidelines of the Programme Committee. Committee meetings may be called by the chairperson of the committee; By resolution of the House; or At the directive of the Speaker if he/she deems it necessary.
Scheduling of Portfolio Committee meetings:
Scheduling of committee meetings must be done within the framework of the Legislature Programme. A meeting may only be called after approval has been given by the Chairperson of Committees or the Chief Whip of the Legislature. The committee chairperson is responsible for determining the agenda of the meeting, guided by the committee’s annual oversight plan (AOP).
Quorum: A majority of members of a committee constitutes a quorum. A committee may decide a question only if a quorum is present. When a committee has to decide a question and a quorum is not present, the chairperson may either suspend business until a quorum is present, or adjourn the meeting.
Decisions: All questions before a committee are decided by a majority of the votes cast. All votes are cast per member. Whenever there is an equal number of votes on either side of a question, the person chairing the meeting has a deciding vote in addition to his/her normal vote.
Public access: The Constitution of the RSA requires the Legislature to facilitate public involvement in its processes. The public, which includes the media, may only be excluded from sittings of committees “if it is reasonable and justifiable to do so in an open and democratic society”. Reasonable measures to regulate public access may be taken. Role and Functions of Chairpersons of Portfolio Committees The chairperson of a portfolio committee has a responsibility to implement the mandate of the committee by organising and planning its work.
They do this by considering legislation; Maintaining oversight of executive action, and Facilitating public participation. The chairperson should conduct meetings according to the Standing Rules; Preside over meetings of the committee and direct its proceedings; Ensure that the meeting proceeds in an orderly fashion, and ensure that the mandate of the committee is carried out in a democratic manner. He/she must act on behalf of and take decisions for a committee when it is not possible for a committee to meet and take decisions. He/she must ensure that the business of the committee is conducted in accordance with legislative procedure, the law and the Constitution of the RSA. He/she must submit, introduce or explain reports of the committee in the House.
The KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has established 5 Standing Committees, Standing Committee on Oversight (Stacov); Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa); Standing Committee on Members’ Legislative Proposals, Public Participation and Petitions (PPP); Standing Committee on Discipline Standing Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women, Children, Youth, People with Disabilities and Senior Citizens
Management Committees deal with the internal business of the Legislature. The five Management Committees are Legislature Executive Committee (Lexco), Management Committee on Rules, Management Committee on Programming, Committee of Chairpersons and the Whips’ Forum. Please look at the menu on the right of your screen and click on a committee you would like to know about in more detail.
The purpose of committees is to perform functions which the House itself is not well placed to perform. Committees are an important mechanism to ensure oversight and accountability of the Executive Council and are described as the “engine room” of the Legislature.
Types of Committees
Management Committees deal with the internal business of the Legislature. Five Standing Committees have been established by the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature. The House establishes a range of Portfolio Committees and assigns a portfolio of provincial government affairs to each committee. These portfolio committees were established during the previous term and may change in the current term. Ad hoc Committees are established by resolution of the House for the performance of a specific task within a specific timeframe. Once that task has been dealt with and finalised, an ad hoc committee is disestablished or dissolved. Sub-committees assist a parent committee with a specific part of the parent committee’s terms of reference. Any committee of the Legislature is allowed to establish its own sub-committee. A sub-committee may only make recommendations to its parent committee. A parent committee appoints from among its members a convenor, members and any alternate members of its sub-committee.
General Responsibilities of Committee Members
All Members represent their political parties in a committee. Members must be diligent in attending all committee meetings. Members must participate in the activities of a committee. In order to be effective in exercising robust oversight, a high level of awareness and preparedness among Members is critical. Two areas of preparation apply.
The 1st area:
This involves the work ethic of Members in general. Committee work requires extensive preparation and reading prior to meetings in order for information to be optimally used.
The 2nd area:
Members must develop a sense of institutional identity as the oversight and scrutiny functions of the Legislature take precedence over all other considerations. While partisanship is a natural phenomenon in any legislature, it needs to be set aside where oversight-related matters are concerned. In such instances, Members will need to see themselves as a part of the Legislature and work co-operatively with other parties.
As public representatives, Members are not only confined to their committees. Members are also responsible for taking up issues of concern emanating from their constituencies and, where possible, refer such matters to the relevant committee. In terms of the Standing Rules, any member may attend any committee meeting and participate in the discussions. However, a Member may not cast a vote if he/she is not a member of that committee.
Members are required to sign an attendance register when attending a committee meeting. If a Member is unable to attend a meeting of a committee of which he/she is a full member, he/she must tender a written apology to the committee co-ordinator prior to the meeting, and arrange for an alternate, where applicable, to attend the meeting in his/her place and advise the committee co-ordinator accordingly.