1. What are Committees?
Committees are often called the “engine rooms’ of Parliaments and Legislatures. This is because they are the structures in which the bulk of parliamentary or legislative business is taken care of. Parliament/Legislatures would never be able to function properly if all deliberations and oversight work were to be conducted in the House as a first instance, as there are too many issues to be discussed by too many people. It is therefore necessary for public representatives to form smaller and more manageable groups where they can seriously deliberate on legislation, service delivery performance, budget performance and related matters.
As the most superior provincial legislative body in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, the KZN Legislature may choose to refer or commit some of its business – proposed legislation, budget estimates, special investigations, et cetera – to a more versatile and practical forum to thoroughly deal with it. In this regard public hearings, which are conducted by committees, provide an important opportunity for interest groups, individuals and organisations to express their opinions and to participate in formulating public policy. At the end of their deliberations, committee members report their findings and recommendations to the House for its consideration and/or approval.
2. Types of Committees
There are mainly four types of committees, namely:
• Standing committees
• Portfolio committees
• Ad hoc committees
• Committees on internal arrangements
* Kindly refer to Standing Rule 122 and Standing Rules 148 to 171 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on Committees.
2.1 Standing Committees
Standing committees do not have a corresponding portfolio (government department) over which they perform oversight. They deal mainly with cross-cutting matters, and the following committees fit into this category, inter alia:
• The Standing Committee on Public Accounts
• The Standing Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals and Petitions
• The Standing Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women, Children, Youth and Disabled Persons
2.2 Portfolio Committees
Portfolio committees perform oversight over their respective departments (portfolios). For example, the Portfolio Committee on Education performs oversight over the functioning of the Department of Education; the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation performs oversight over the functioning of the Department of Sport and Recreation, and so on.
These committees deal with departmental policy, Bills emanating from those departments and public hearings pertaining to Bills which had been initiated by these departments. Furthermore, committees have to scrutinise departmental budgets, expenditure and service-delivery performance in order to ensure that the lives of the citizens of the province are improved.
2.3 Ad Hoc Committees
Ad hoc committees, unlike portfolio committees which last for the duration of the Legislature, are established to deal with specific issues. Once those issues have been dealt with and finalised, ad hoc committees are disestablished or dissolved.
Any committee of the Legislature is empowered to establish its own sub-committee/s.
2.4 Management Committees
The following is an overview of the political management committees of the KZN Legislature:
Management Committee on Rules Speaker
Management Committee on Programming Speaker
Committee of Chairpersons Chairperson of Committees
Whips’ Forum Chief Whip of the Legislature
Standing Committee on Discipline Deputy Speaker
Stacov * Members elect chairperson from one of the committee members
2.4.1 Management Committee on Rules
In terms of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature, the Management Committee on Rules must be appointed with the Speaker as chairperson. If the Speaker is unable to be present at a meeting, the Deputy Speaker shall act as the chairperson at that meeting.
The function of the committee is to compile a set of Standing Rules to govern proceedings of the Legislature. The committee must from time to time review and possibly revise those Standing Rules, where necessary. Thereafter the committee has to report back to the House. Members have the opportunity of discussing and formally adopting these Standing Rules. Subsequent changes to the Standing Rules are also dealt with by this committee. The committee considers questions relating to the Standing Rules, practices and procedures of the House, as well as matters relating to staff members which are submitted by the Speaker. It also falls within the competence of this committee to deal with legislation relating to the powers and privileges of members of the Legislature, as well as the functioning and powers of standing committees.
* Kindly refer to Standing Rules 148 to 151 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on the Management Committee on Rules.
2.4.2 Management Committee on Programming
This committee, also chaired by the Speaker, is responsible for ensuring that there is a programme for the Legislature. This includes dates of committee meetings, dates of legislature sittings, dates of sector parliaments, workshops, members’ training courses, et cetera.
The Speaker, as the Chairperson of the Management Committee on Programming, authorises special requests for extra slots or visits that the committees may request from time to time.
* Kindly refer to Standing Rules 152 to 155 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on the Programme Committee.
2.4.3 Committee of Chairpersons
This committee comprises chairpersons of all committees, except management committees. It is chaired by the Chairperson of Committees. Its purpose is to ensure that the chairpersons of portfolio and standing committees are performing their functions. Part of the duties of the committee is to ensure that systems allowing for proper oversight works are put in place. The Committee of Chairpersons must also develop a five-year international study tour programme to be adopted by the Management Committee on Programming.
* Kindly refer to Standing Rules 162 to 165 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on the Committee of Chairperson.
2.4.4 Whips’ Forum
The Whips’ Forum is responsible for drafting the programmes of Legislature sittings. This information is contained in the Order Paper. The Chief Whip consults with Whips from other parties and draws up a programme. Issues regarding Members’ welfare and empowerment can be raised with this structure and will be referred to the relevant committees for decision.
The Management Committee on Programming has the ultimate authority over the programme of the Legislature.
* Kindly refer to 166 to 171 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on the Office of the Chief Whip and the Whips’ Forum.
2.4.5 Standing Committee on Discipline
The Standing Rules provide for the establishment of a Standing Committee on Discipline consisting of the Deputy Speaker, who shall be the ex officio chairperson of the committee; the Chairperson of Committees, the Chief Whip of the Legislature and seven other Whips, as per the proportional representation of parties in the House.
At the request of the Speaker, the committee shall investigate and advise him/her on alleged infringements by Members of the Legislature which do not involve the privileges or proceedings of the House, the Legislature or a committee of the House. Having received information on any such alleged infringements, the Speaker requests the Standing Committee on Discipline to investigate the matter and report back. The committee then proceeds to set up meetings to hear evidence from the various parties involved. Once this process has been completed, the committee drafts a report which it presents to the Speaker.
3. Powers of Committees
Committees exercise those powers which the Constitution of the RSA, 1996, Act No 108 of 1996, or the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature assign to the Legislature or to them expressly. The following sections in the Constitution are of particular relevance to the functioning of committees:
Section 114 provides for the following:
• powers to consider, pass, amend or reject a Bill
• powers to initiate legislation, excluding money Bills
• openness of proceedings and the facilitation of public involvement, as well as ensuring that all provincial executive organs of state are accountable to the Legislature;
Section 115 empowers committees to summon any person to appear before them in order to give information or to provide documentation;
Section 117 ensures freedom of speech to Members in that they cannot be prosecuted or sued for anything they say during committee meetings. This is called “parliamentary privilege”. (Please note: This does not give a Member the right to say things which he/she knows not to be true, as the Standing Rules do not allow for any Member to deliberately mislead the Legislature), and
Section 118 calls on the Legislature to facilitate public involvement and for openness of proceedings.
From the above, it should be clear that committees are generally held for the following purposes:
• To oversee the implementation of government policies and procedures
• To oversee and monitor financial expenditure and service delivery by government departments and state funded entities
• To ensure the smooth functioning of the House (Management Committee on Rules, Standing Committee on Discipline, Whips’ Forum, et cetera)
• To examine specific areas of public life or matters of current public interest
• To consider legislation, including private Members’ proposals
4. Specific Functions of Committees
In the previous term (4th term or Fourth Legislature) committees were “clustered” in such a way that membership of existing committee clusters never overlaps. The clusters are as follows:
Finance Standing Committee on Public Accounts Premier and Royal Household Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Public Works Human Settlements Economic Development and Tourism Community Safety and Liaison Transport
Social Support Cluster
Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Arts and Culture Sport and Recreation Quality of Life and Status of Women, Children, Youth, People with Disabilities and the Senior Citizens Social Development Health Education Private Members’ Legislative Proposals, Public Participation and Petitions
In pursuance of the duties imposed on them by the Legislature, committees should –
• Meet once a month to consider the budget, expenditure patterns and general service delivery of the department over which they perform oversight;
• Call the MEC and accounting officer of the department to account on expenditure and any actions or inactions by the department;
• Establish sub-committees to expedite certain matters which the full committee cannot adequately deal with in a meeting;
• Undertake in situ inspections of various departmental projects;
• Monitor expenditure trends to ascertain whether they are in line with the strategic plan of the department (This would require that the expenditure report is weighed against the service-delivery improvement programmes);
• Monitor the implementation of any Bills that have been passed;
• Consider the annual report of the department in comparison with the Auditor-General’s part of the report;
• Follow up on any matters which the Standing Committee on Public Accounts may refer to it;
• Follow up on all issues arising out of the budget hearings;
• Follow up on issues arising out of sector parliaments that have a bearing on the functions of such portfolio committee, and
• Follow up on issues raised by the public during public interactions.
4.1 Instruments for Oversight
Whilst the Sector Oversight Model (SOM) represents the paradigm within which oversight work is performed, the following documents are some of the documents that provide crucial information:
• The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa
• The President’s State of the Nation address (national priorities)
• The Premier’s State of the Province address (provincial priorities)
• Legislative mandate of a department (Acts administered by a department)
• Strategic plan of a department (departmental priorities)
• Annual Performance Plan of a department
• Departmental budget (Budget Statement and Appropriation Act)
• Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)
5. Function of the Office of the Chairperson of Committees
The Office of the Chairperson of Committees comprises both the Chairperson of Committees and the Deputy Chairperson of Committees. This is a political office in charge of the political machinery of the committees of the Legislature.
* Kindly refer to Rule 15 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature for more information on the election of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Committees.
5.1 Role and Functions of Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Committees
Standing Rules 16 and 17 of the Standing Rules of the KZN Legislature set out the role and functions of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of Committees as follows:
16. Role and functions of Chairperson of Committees
The Chairperson of Committees –
(a) is the chairperson of the Committee of Chairpersons established under Rule 162;
(b) must –
(i) co-ordinate the activities of committees and the scheduling of committee meetings;
(ii) ensure that –
(aa) business plans for all portfolio and standing committees are adopted and implemented;
(bb) budgets are compiled for all committees; and
(cc) NCOP business is dealt with speedily and according to time frames;
(iii) provide guidance and advice to chairpersons of portfolio and standing committees pertaining to the Standing Rules and to procedures and functions;
(iv) facilitate capacity building of chairpersons and committee members;
(v) ensure that committees –
(aa) function effectively; and
(bb) are provided with effective infrastructural and administrative support systems;
(vi) monitor and report on the performance of the parliamentary liaison officers; and
(vii) preside over the House in the absence of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker and over meetings of the House in Committee.
17. Role and function of Deputy Chairperson of Committees
The Deputy Chairperson of Committees must –
(a) assist the Chairperson of Committees in the performance of his or her functions;
(b) preside over the House whenever necessary;
(c) act as the Chairperson of Committees when he or she is absent or unable to perform his or her functions and when the position of the Chairperson of Committees is vacant; and
(d) perform such functions and tasks as may be assigned to him or her by resolution of the House.
5.2 The Office of the Chairperson of Committees performs the following functions:
In the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Chairperson of Committees presides over the sittings of the Legislature;
The Chairperson of Committees also presides over the Committee of the House (Committee of Supply) which considers the budget allocation before it is passed by the Legislature.
The day-to-day activities of the Chairperson of Committees are to co-ordinate activities of committees (oversight meetings, strategic oversight interventions, planning and implementation of committee plans, et cetera).
In line with the programming functions, the Chairperson of Committees has to attend meetings in Cape Town where all provincial programmes are dealt with and aligned with the national parliamentary programme.
The Office of the Chairperson of Committees plays an oversight role over the performance of all chairpersons of committees, the performance of committees and the performance of parliamentary liaison officers. This includes capacity building, guidance and advice to chairpersons and committees of the Legislature.
The Chairperson of Committees is also the chairperson of the Committee of Chairpersons.
The Office of the Chairperson of Committees, through specific functions assigned to it, plays a central role in terms of public participation. Reports are processed through the Legislature and the Executive Council. This office is responsible for co-ordinating feedback sessions with members of the public.
6. How do Citizens play a Role in Committees?
The committees of the Legislature are obliged by the Constitution of the RSA to hold their meetings in an open and transparent manner (See section 118). As such, all committee meetings are open to the public. However, this does not mean that a member of the public can interject during meetings and make his/her input. There is a process which needs to be followed in order for public inputs to be heard. Where a member of the public wishes to raise an issue of concern with a committee of the Legislature, the member in question would either have to contact the chairperson of the relevant committee directly, or work through the committee secretary and, in writing, indicate a request to make an input. The chairperson would make a decision or would consult and then place the matter on the agenda.
The member of the public would then be advised of the decision to allow him/her to address the committee. Each committee has a committee secretary or committee co-ordinator assigned to it to lend secretarial and/or logistical support.
Other methods of participation in committee activities are as follows:
• Writing to the committee and making a written representation;
• Making oral inputs on Bills during public hearings, or
• Making use of the radio programme Ukhozi FM to interact with the chairperson during a phone-in opportunity.
7. Reporting Responsibilities of Committees
Committees, by their very nature, are sub-committees of the Legislature. They exist to serve the interests of the Legislature and whatever work they undertake is on behalf of the Legislature.
It is for that reason that the Standing Rules require committees to report on their activities. Committee members are also expected to report on:
• Activities attended on behalf of the committee, and
• Issues that may have been brought to a Member and which fall within the ambit of a specific committee.
8. Multi-party Oversight Delegation Programme
There is a programme which is part of the Legislature’s Taking the Legislature to the People initiative and which is run by the Chairperson of Committees. This programme gives citizens of the province an opportunity to voice their concerns regarding service delivery issues with the Legislature and MECs then have to respond to those issues.
8.1 Taking the Legislature to the People – Multi-party Oversight Committee
Section 118 of the Constitution of the RSA calls on provincial Legislatures to facilitate public involvement in legislative and other processes of Legislatures and their committees. It further calls on Legislatures to conduct their business in an open manner, and to hold their sittings and those of their committees in public.
In line with the above mandate, the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature adopted a programme which would enable the Legislature to extend its sittings to local areas in order to facilitate access by the citizens of the province to the Legislature.
8.1.1 Recipient Municipal District
The Legislature designates a district as its destination of choice for any of the Taking the Legislature to the People initiatives which are scheduled to take place twice a year. These initiatives are aimed at ensuring that citizens of the province are able to interact directly with their elected representatives, as well as exposing citizens to the processes of the Legislature.
8.1.2 Involvement of Legislature Committees
The effectiveness of this initiative lies in holding these activities in areas where the people live. As a policy directive, this initiative is always preceded by the multi-party committee or any officially appointed structure of the Legislature which comprises representatives from various portfolio committees and all parties represented in the Legislature.
The committee or delegation, comprising members from all political parties represented in the Legislature and led by the Chairperson of Committees, mainly gives the communities an opportunity to address Members on socio-economic or socio-political issues which fall within the service-delivery areas of national, provincial or local government or any public institution or parastatal.
This is an opportunity where members of the public get to speak and where politicians get to listen. From there the Legislature will follow up on any service delivery issue which is meant to be undertaken by any sphere of government. Departments, the Legislature, municipalities, parastatals and public entities are not allowed to speak on issues of service delivery at this point, and for one simple reason: This is the stage where members of the public get to call on all of these structures to review their effectiveness and assist them (the structures) by alerting them to investigate areas where they may need to prioritise their budgets for the ensuing or future financial year. However, when the sitting of the Legislature takes place, MECs are given an opportunity to report on their service-delivery plans or indicate the direction which they will take in reaction to the issues raised by the public.
8.1.4 Plan for the District
A specified number of days are set aside in the Legislature’s calendar for cluster visits to certain areas within an identified district. During these days all local municipalities falling within that district or, alternatively, priority areas for that district are visited.
8.1.5 Role of District Municipalities
In recognition of the constitutional obligation placed on the three spheres of government to function in a co-operative manner, the Legislature’s administrative team will typically meet with the district municipality (comprising representation of all local municipalities within that particular district) to brief them on how the process will unfold, secure the buy-in by district and local municipalities, and invite them to be part of the public meetings. Among the areas of co-operation requested from the district and local municipalities are:
i) The identification of any additional venue or inputs on venues that can be used for these meetings in each area. (The Legislature also takes into consideration the requests from members of the public for committees to visit them when identifying the venues);
ii) Correspondence alerting local leadership structures, e.g. councilors and amakhosi, of the pending visit and its purpose, as outlined in the concept document;
iii) The use of local structures to ensure public awareness of the initiative as a supplement to the publicity programme of the Legislature;
iv) Availing services of some municipal staff members to work closely with the team from the Legislature during these meetings, and
v) The provision of a list of local service providers in each area who will be in a position to provide, inter alia, the following services:
b. Sound system
The purpose behind the municipality submitting a list of service providers is for the Legislature to contribute to the economic activity of the area in line with its BEE and procurement policies. However, the Legislature is guided in its appointment of service providers by whether those service providers have been registered in the provincial or Legislature’s database of service providers.
8.2 Findings Three days after the last public meeting, at the very latest, all the findings of the public interaction sessions are compiled in a report which is circulated to municipalities, MECs and the Legislature.
9. International Study Tours
This programme is governed by the Legislature’s policy on study tours. Its main aim is to ensure that there is an exchange of information and experiences between Members of Legislatures and their counterparts in other countries. It is informed by learning opportunities and the Research, Information and Library Services Unit of the Legislature undertakes research to ensure that a recommended country can offer something to the Legislature by way of information-sharing purposes, possibly something which can be implemented by the province. According to this policy, each committee is entitled to one study tour during a five-year term. There are conditions attached to this policy which deal with the suitability of a Member to participate in a committee study tour. These include, inter alia, the regular attendance of committee meetings and membership to the committee.
During the previous term, a number of countries were visited, not only by committees, but also by Members of the Executive Council of KwaZulu-Natal, committees from the other eight provincial Legislatures and national Parliament, as well as the members of Cabinet and members of the Executive Councils from other provinces. Committees are encouraged to influence joint study tours with their counterparts in other Legislatures, as this would facilitate information sharing among various legislatures.
Directorate of Committees
1st Floor: Administration Building
244 Langalibalele Street
Manager: Mr Zethembiso Nzuza
Office: 033 3557707
Fax: 033 3557681
List of Committees, Contact Persons and Contact Information
Public Committee on Finance Z Cele 3557098
Public Committee on Economic Development and Tourism N Dimba 3557081
Standing Committee on Public Accounts B Goniwe 3557624
Portfolio Committee on the Premier and Royal Household N F Madide 3557746
Portfolio Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Z Molefe 3557467
Portfolio Committee on Public Works N Gasa 3557034
Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements S Sibisi 3557718
Public Committee on Community Safety and Liaison G Dube 3557446
Public Committee on Transport L Dube 3557010
Standing Committee on Discipline S Engelbrecht 3557071
SOCIAL SUPPORT CLUSTER
Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture M Madondo 3557608
Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation X C Ntsele 3557678
Standing Committee on the Quality of Life and Status of Women, Children, Youth, People with Disabilities and the Senior Citizens N P Sikhakhane 3557719
Portfolio Committee on Social Development N Mazibuko 3557651
Portfolio Committee on Health G Reddy 3557575
Portfolio Committee on Agriculture K Dlamini 3557582
Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs T Magwaza 3557048
Portfolio Committee on Education K P Mkhwanazi 3557581
Standing Committee on Private Members’ Legislative Proposals, Public Participation and Petitions S Hlatshwako 3557537
Management Committee on Rules L Zondi 3557478
Management Committee on Programming S Mkhwanazi 3557466
Whips’ Forum P S Tembe 3557659
Committee of Chairpersons D Ngubane 3557555