There are a few weeks left until Parliament’s mid-year break.
In the remaining days, the legislative body is scheduled to consider and vote on several Bills, conduct important debates, appropriate funding, scrutinise government performance, oversee government’s COVID-19 response, consider statutory appointments and finalise assorted Committee Reports.
A major highlight this week is Friday’s joint sitting to mark the 25th anniversary of the constitution.
It is an important milestone and all parties will reflect on this historic document. Many will point out that its vision still remains a distant reality for most South Africans, lament how constitutional institutions have been tested, and highlight Parliament’s failure to uphold its obligations under the constitution.
Speaking to the SABC, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said:
“There are enormous efforts under way as we speak today, to remove, to improve, to strengthen these (Chapter 9) Institutions and the possibility for faster implementation of the key provisions of the Constitution, it’s the Bill of Rights and aspects of its preamble which calls on us essentially to be a caring state, to be mindful of the harm people were done by past policies, to undertake critical tasks to eliminate these conditions throughout our country so that people may enjoy the peace and some degree of prosperity where they live. We have a lot more to do as the Zondo Commission suggests, but nevertheless the Constitution and its key pillars, we are proud to say that they remain intact. They remain the guiding that was intended for us, those who remain in the system since its inception. Those who come in those remain an important guidepost. Every one of us should internalise its meaning and be weary of those who may suggest easy deletion of aspects of it without reason.”
Notably, the Joint Constitutional Review Committee just invited the public to submit comments on the annual review of the Constitution.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly has scheduled 6 budget vote debates.
Budget Vote debates schedule:
On the following day, the chamber will host a debate to commemorate Africa Day under the theme: The year for Arts, Culture and Heritage – Building a better Africa and a better world in the midst of Covid-19.
Bullying at schools will be in the spotlight during Thursday’s sitting. This is an urgent debate sponsored by Ms N J Adoons (ANC). This was requested following the recent spate of incidents across the country. At the same session, lawmakers will be considering reports on remuneration, salaries and allowances payable to judges, magistrates and chapter 9 institution heads.
Over in the NCOP chamber, delegates will be occupied with 6 policy debates spread out from Tuesday to Thursday. Other business includes legislation, a virtual Lecture to celebrate Africa Day and consideration of assorted reports.
View the full plenary programme here.
Beyond this, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces will lead a parliamentary delegation to the 4th Ordinary Session of the Pan African Parliament from 24 May – 4 June. Elsewhere, the Speaker of the National Assembly will lead a delegation to the 142nd Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union from 24 - 28 May.
Last Saturday marked two years since MP’s were sworn into office. It’s been an eventful and historic term so far given the ongoing virtual/hybrid Parliament.
It’s a promising week in the Committee corridor, with a number of interesting meetings in prospect. Here is a run down of the highlights:
Monday, 24 May 2021
The Sub-Committee of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and Select Committee on Health and Social Services on Filling of Vacancies in the NYDA, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration and adoption of the criteria for short-listing], Good Hope Chamber, Ground Floor, Good Hope Building, 14:00-22:00
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
The Sub-Committee of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and Select Committee on Health and Social Services on Filling of Vacancies in the NYDA, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Shortlisting of candidates], Good Hope Chamber, Ground Floor, Good Hope Building, 09:00-22:00
Standing Committee on Finance, (National Assembly), [Public Hearings on the Fiscal Responsibility Bill [B5 – 2020]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 16:30-19:30
Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) on the forensic investigation report on Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) and how the departments and SITA would salvage the project going forward], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Hearing on the annual report and financial statements of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), for the financial year 2019/20, as well as irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Select Committee on Finance, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by NT and PBO “A guide to understanding major cryptocurrency issues and a regulatory framework”], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00
Wednesday, 26 May 2021
Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour, (National Assembly), [Response by Department of Employment and Labour on the written and oral submissions received on the Employment Equity Amendment Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on the Gas Amendment Bill (B9 -2021); Consideration and adoption of outstanding minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Police, (National Assembly), [Meeting on SAPS Discipline Management: ISS and SAPS], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology and Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sport, Arts and Culture, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration and Adoption of Draft Minutes; Briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on the analysis of the lessons learnt in respect of multimodal teaching and learning mechanisms during the lockdown period in the PSET system; Briefing by DHET on the registration for the 2021 academic year for universities and TVET colleges and progress made with NSFAS appeals], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Communications, (National Assembly), [Briefing by SAPO on its separation from Postbank], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Select Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications, (National Council of Provinces), [Update by ESKOM on the unbundling process (of ESKOM) as announced by the Minister], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-13:00
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Hearing on the annual report and financial statements of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), for the financial year 2019/20, as well as irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure], Virtual Meeting Platform, 18:00-21:00
Friday, 28 May 2021
Standing Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly), [Public Hearings on the Special Appropriation Bill [B5-2021]], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Consideration of the Committee’s Strategic Plan and 2021 Operational Plan; Consideration of committee minutes], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00
Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?
View the full schedule here.
*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day