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.