Parly Studies Document Secrecy
Parliament - The
National Assembly's rules committee was on Friday urged to re-examine the issue
of under what circumstances documents tabled at Parliamentary committees could
be classified as secret.
The Speaker, Frene
Ginwala, said it was important parties reached a common understanding on the
matter, and it was perhaps not necessary that Parliament's rules be
The issue was under
the spotlight recently after uncertainty about whether documents submitted to
the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) - dealing with the
controversial R43 billion arms deal - could or should have been made
Johnny de Lange (ANC)
said the current rules allowed committees to decide, behind closed doors if
necessary, whether documents marked "confidential" should be made
public. "It is very clear that a document is open when the chairman decides
Ginwala said parties
should discuss the issue among themselves, and workshops could be held.
Suggestions should then be brought to the rules committee. Parliament's
committee system also needed to be examined, as well as their role and status,
Committees had been
created to match government departments, but the question arose whether this was
still wanted. The Cabinet, for instance, had gone over to a cluster system.
Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Douglas Gibson
said he had heard last week of one committee which had not yet met this
Sybil Seaton (IFP)
said smaller parties had difficulty covering 27 committees in the two days a
week currently effectively allocated to committee work.
De Lange said a system
was being considered of having one week a month devoted solely to committee
work, with a pre-planned programme.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and News24.