Dlamini skips second Parliament committee meeting this week

Cape Town - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Wednesday skipped another Parliamentary committee meeting - the second time this week.

Dlamini's department was due to present its annual strategic and budget plans to the portfolio committee on social development ahead of Parliament's budget votes later this month.

The committee's secretary told MPs that Dlamini and deputy minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu had sent apologies, as they were attending a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Some ministers and deputies though, like Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, were present in Parliament on Wednesday to present to their respective portfolio committees, News24 can confirm.

President Jacob Zuma was due in Durban on Wednesday for the opening of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017.

Democratic Alliance MP Evelyn Wilson said the meeting was crucial, and that their meetings keep clashing with Cabinet meetings. They had not seen the deputy minister in over a year.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Liesl van der Merwe said the annual performance plan was signed off by the minister, the deputy and former director general Zane Dangor, none of whom were there to account.

She said the public had been very scathing of their committee in keeping the executive to account during the social grants saga.

'No wrongdoing, but jealous of time'

African National Congress MP Sibongile Tsoleli said a deputy minister does not attend Cabinet meetings, so a further explanation was needed from Bogopane-Zulu.

The committee, however, received notification last term that acting director general Nelisiwe Vilakazi, who was present, would replace Dangor, she said.

A director general can account to portfolio committees, based on the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), she said.

ANC MP Hope Malgas said the committee needed written confirmation that someone else would act on Dlamini's behalf.

"According to the PFMA, we should know who is acting from the department, and that notification should be in writing." She asked that they receive that letter on Wednesday.

Chairperson Rose Capa said Dlamini can present to Parliament at a later date on the budget.

Capa said no wrongdoing had been done, but is "jealous" of the time they are losing by Dlamini's non-attendance.

Presentations would go ahead on Wednesday by those department officials present, Capa said.

NCOP committee meeting cancelled

On Tuesday, Parliament's select committee on social services cancelled its meeting on the department's upcoming budget vote after both Dlamini and Bogopane-Zulu failed to attend as well.

The select committee is represented by MPs from the National Council of Provinces, as opposed to the National Assembly.

Dlamini was also attending a meeting in Pretoria, the committee heard. She had not specified the nature of the meeting.

Select committee chairperson Landulile Dlamini expressed her dissatisfaction on Tuesday that Dlamini and her deputy skipped yet another meeting with NCOP MPs.

"We are different [to portfolio committees].

"We call you twice, maybe four times a year. If they don't attend, we don't know what is happening," she told those department officials who were present.

She told the department to take the message back to Minister Dlamini that they would not proceed until she or her deputy attended.

Dlamini has previously said that as minister she only needs to account to the portfolio committee.

*This article has been updated.

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