It's the last rites for the Fifth Parliament. After a dizzying and tumultuous five years, the National Assembly will rise this week and the NCOP a week later. But a fair amount of work will be done before MPs depart. Many will immediately go out on the campaign trail (at least those seeking re-election) while others will be contemplating their next chapter: retirement, a new career and life as an ordinary member of the public.
In the remaining days, the NA chamber is scheduled to sit for long hours to vote on several outstanding Bills, consider assorted statutory instruments, recommend important statutory appointments and finalise leftover Committee reports. Beyond this, there will be opportunity for some electioneering and battles when lawmakers discuss the following topic: Growing and transforming South Africa together from an Apartheid state to a thriving democracy.
The NA will conclude its business with the traditional end-of-term speeches, where MPs reflect on their time in office and express well wishes to their colleagues. 21 March is Human Rights Day and is a significant day in this country’s history. Both chambers will commemorate the day with a debate under the theme: Accelerated socio-economic transformation – the key to human rights and better future for all. Over in the NCOP chamber, legislative business and Committee reports make up the other agenda items.
The Committee corridor is the site for several important meetings. Here is a rundown of the highlights:
The Steinhoff debacle is one of the biggest corporate scandals the country has ever seen. Since it was uncovered, Parliament has met regularly with the involved parties to get a full account of the transgressions, establish the role of regulators and gaps in legislation and get an update on the investigations to ensure that implicated people are held to account. The follow-up meeting will be closely watched to see what progress has been made. (Tuesday)
The Portfolio Committee on Police will get a briefing from SAPS on its operational readiness and preparations ahead of the 2019 general elections. SAPS is expected to confirm that, as part of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, which is coordinating all security and law enforcement operations throughout the country, it has plans in place to create a safe and secure environment for the elections. (Tuesday)
In the past few weeks, legislators have received briefings on the political developments in several hotspot countries. The spotlight will be on Venezuela this week. The presentation will highlight South Africa’s contribution to a peaceful resolution of the challenges in that country. (Wednesday)
The Finance Committee has for several years been focusing on the urgent need to tackle the Illicit Economy and Illicit Financial Flows far more decisively and has regularly expressed its concern at SARS’ inadequacies in this regard. The Committee welcomed the re-establishment of an enforcement unit, to be possibly named the Illicit Economy Unit, and urged SARS to ensure that it is suitably resourced with officials with the necessary skills. The Committee made a commitment to actively monitor progress in this regard. In line with this, it has arranged a joint follow-up meeting to discuss illicit financial flows. (Wednesday) In between, MPs will be doing some heavy legislative lifting as they consider the following Bills: National Minimum Wage Amendment Bill; Property Practitioners Bill; National Land Transport Amendment Bill; Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill; Carbon Tax Bill; Customs and Excise Amendment Bill; Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill; Financial Matters Amendment Bill; iKamva Digital Skills Institute Bill; Repeal of the Overvaal Resorts Limited Bill; Division of Revenue Bill; National Gambling Amendment Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill and Foreign Service Bill. The NCOP will continue to exist until immediately before the first sittings of the provincial legislatures while the NA, despite being dissolved, will continue to function until the day before 8 May elections.
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.
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