Proposal for inquiry into KZN and Gauteng unrest sent to Speaker Thandi Modise
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Cape Town - The joint inquiry of six committees of both houses of Parliament hit a snag at its meeting on Friday when MPs decided that the matter be referred back to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.
The joint committee was directed by National Assembly house chairperson Cedric Frolick in consultation with his counterpart on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
This was after there were indications of serious lapses in the ability of security services in handling the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
In his letter, Frolick said it was crucial for Parliament to get the complete picture, reasons for unrest, consequence and response of the state through inquiry, led by the police portfolio committee and relevant committees.
The proposed inquiry by MPs from both Houses was then ordered to report to Parliament by the time it reconvened on August 15.
However, a presentation from legal services said one of the rules stipulated that Parliament could establish joint committees when both Houses adopted their own resolutions.
Another rule provided that an ad hoc committee could also be established when a resolution was adopted by both Houses.
“If both or any of the Houses are in recess, by decision of the Speaker and Chairperson, acting jointly after consulting the Chief Whips of the majority party in the National Assembly and Council,” read the rule.
Even before the MPs could ask questions and make comments, police portfolio committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson wasted no time saying it was very clear they could not proceed with the inquiry.
She said necessary rules of Parliament should be followed before convening the joint committee.
“We should not be found to be at odds with the law,” Joemat-Pettersson said, adding that the matter be referred to Modise for her consideration.
MPs also raised concerns that voluminous documents were sent to them late.
They also raised concern with the size of the joint committee which was effectively more than 50 members from the six committees.
There were questions about the short time given to the committee to report back to Parliament.
“I don’t think it will do justice to a proper inquiry,” ACDP MP Steve Swart said.
ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi said the presentation from legal services gave a lot of doubts.
“The matter has got to be referred to the Speaker,” Dyantyi said.
He noted the chairperson of committees of both Houses agreed among them on the inquiry instead of including NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo.
“We have no basis to even entertain (the matter) which is in front of us,” Dyantyi said.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said the inquiry should take place.
“All the whips must participate and make sure we come with a proper and an above exercise,” Holomisa said.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said they should absolutely make sure to follow procedures as there could be a possibility of court cases from the investigation.
“If there is a procedural mistake we make, we will obtain what we want to obtain,” he said, before raising concern on the size of the joint committee.
DA MP Dianne Barnard-Kohler raised concern that documents arrived very late and about the size of the committee.
She also said the joint standing committee on intelligence would conduct its own inquiry.
Barnard-Kohler suggested that the justice and correctional services portfolio committee should lead the inquiry.
Joemat-Pettersson said they took oversight work seriously.
“We will refer the matter to the whips and the Speaker and House chairperson. They will look at the composition of this committee and look who will chair the committee,” she said.
“They should discuss prescripts and what it is to be presented to them,” Joemat-Pettersson said.