20 September 2018

South Africa: Constitutional Review Committee to Ask for Extension for Its Work On Section 25

The Joint Constitutional Review Committee, which was due to report back to Parliament on September 28 on its work on section 25 of the Constitution, requested that the Speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete and the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Thandi Modise consider extending this deadline.

Co-chairperson Lewis Nzimande announced that the committee asked for an extension in a statement that was released after the committee hit some speed bumps in its work on deciding if Section 25 of the Constitution should be reviewed to allow expropriation without compensation during Thursday's meeting.

More than an hour after the start of the meeting, committee members were still toing and froing about the meeting's agenda.

Eventually, proceedings got underway with the service provider Isilumko, which Parliament appointed to handle the written submissions to the committee, presenting its report.

The presentation had hardly started before unimpressed MPs complained about the way the presenters introduced themselves. The two presenters, after conferring in hushed tones with each other, only introduced themselves by their first names, Shay and Ammaarah.

Adding to the frustration was the poor visibility on the screens, meaning that MPs (as well as the media and public) could not follow the presentation.

Suspicions raised

MPs were concerned about Isilumko's credentials and suitability for the job as it is a recruitment company. They were unsure what the terms of reference for the company were in compiling its report for Parliament, and the committee had no insights in the appointment of the company.

"This whole procedure to my mind is a little suspect," said DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach.

Other MPs also questioned the quality of the report.

"You haven't read the report qualitatively. Your judgement is also suspect," committee chairperson Lewis Nzimande told MPs.

He said he did not find anything untoward with the report and recommended that members of the committee go to their chief whips to raise formal complaints with the Speaker.

More toing and froing ensued.

EFF MP Nazier Paulsen said the report was propaganda. ACDP MP Steve Swart said it was unfair to dismiss the report as propaganda while EFF MP Tebogo Mokwele spoke over him.

"I don't think we're making a very good impression on the public or the people watching out there," FF Plus MP Corné Mulder sighed.

450 000 written submissions

The committee broke for a few minutes, with party members discussing a way forward among themselves.

After the break, Nzimande said originally Isilumko was brought on board to help Parliament's staff with handling the submissions. He said he agreed that Parliament should take ownership of the process, and with a "Bon voyage!" sent Shay and Ammaarah on their way.

The committee then discussed the list of 120 names of people who indicated that they wanted to make oral presentations to the committee in their written submissions.

This included the 42 organisations that had made presentations to the committee two weeks ago.

The committee - after some more back and forth - decided to contact the people on the list who had not made presentations already to determine if they were speaking as individuals or on behalf of a constituency, as well as to look at their written submissions to determine if they had something substantial to say on the matter.

The committee will also check that they have not spoken at the public hearings. These presentations will be heard in the first week of October.

The committee also decided that members will have a look at the written submissions from next week until the committee reconvenes for the presentations in October.

Cope MP Deidre Carter said she was concerned about this process. She said MPs were required by law to apply their minds to the written submissions. There are about 450 000 of these submissions. She said if an MP spent only one minute on each submission, it would take 650 12-hour days to work through all of them.

Finally, the committee received a draft report from the parliamentary staff on the public hearings. The MPs were generally satisfied with this report although they pointed to some matters that they felt should be included in the document.

News24

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