The Week Ahead: All out Action in the Committee Corridor

It's a low key week in the main chambers with no sittings scheduled. All the parliamentary action will take place in the committee corridor where the schedule is bursting.

The legislature’s budget vote season shows no sign of slowing down as most days are packed with long meetings as committees interrogate departments and entities on their budgets and priorities for the year ahead. With the deadline for the completion of Budget Vote Reports fast approaching, committees are in a race to finalise their reports ahead of the budget vote debates, which are scheduled to start next week. This grueling schedule has brought into sharp focus the question of parliamentary oversight and how effectively MPs are able to engage with the presenters and presentations. On a few occasions, the proceedings were hurried and MPs were presented with the documents for the first time at the meeting. Of course the agenda can be livened-up, at short notice, by ministerial and media statements or urgent questions, and there are a number of very big issues in the background and coming down the track.

Here is a rundown of the highlights:

On Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will shortlist candidates for appointment to the Information Regulator. Last year, the Committee invited the public to nominate 5 suitable persons to be appointed as members of the Information Regulator for a period of 5 years. In terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act, this new body will have powers to receive complaints, investigate and fine responsible parties.

Lawmakers will get a briefing on the Expanded Public Works Programme, which is the government's flagship initiative to alleviate poverty and unemployment. Critics have often complained that the beneficiaries are exploited and only get short-term and not permanent jobs.

The SABC – together with other entities falling under the Department of Communications – will report on its strategic and annual performance plan. The state broadcaster is expected to face some tough questions about its failure to implement the Public Protector's remedial action, the canning of the “On the Record with Vuyo Mvoko” show and the election coverage.

A briefing on the revitalisation of industrial parks programme and hearings into the 2014/15 Annual Report and Financial Statements of the South African Post Office will garner some interest.

A Joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will take place to hear a briefing on the preparations and readiness for 2016 Local Government Elections.

Elsewhere, meetings with PRASA, IPID, the Government Employees Pension Fund and the Public Investment Corporation on their strategic and annual performance plans are other points of interest.

On Wednesday, legislators will get an update from the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer on the progress regarding its efficiency drives. Just last week, the Office announced new standards for the procurement and delivery of infrastructure by government departments and all other organs of state subject to the Public Finance Management Act.

The Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services will meet with MPs on the functioning and impact of its investigations, inspections, complaints management system, and mandatory reporting units.

The Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements will continue meeting with provincial departments together with their metropolitan municipalities to discuss their annual performance plans and outstanding issues.

Beyond this, the NYDA will have an opportunity to present its strategic plan and annual performance plan. The entity does not have a board as the term of office of the previous ended in March. Parliament undertook a process to appoint a new board – interviews were held and names were recommended to the House - but it later decided to start the process afresh after being threatened with legal action by one of the unsuccessful candidates.

On Thursday, Sentech and 8 entities from the Department of Human Settlements will present their budgets, targets and priorities for 2016/17.

On Friday, the Constitutional Review Committee has arranged its first meeting of 2016 and will conduct public hearings on legacy submissions.

On the legislative side, MPs will consider the Higher Education Amendment Bill, Performing Animals Protection Amendment Bill and Division of Revenue Bill.

See the full schedule here.


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