The Week Ahead: Legislation, Appointments & Question Time

Oct. 21, 2019 (3 weeks, 6 days ago)

The major point of interest will come from Tuesday’s debate on the Special Appropriation Bill in the National Assembly Chamber. The Bill allocates an additional R59bn to Eskom over the next two years.

In recommending the Bill, the Standing Committee on Appropriations stated that “the proposed conditions are not stringent enough however it would be too risky to the fiscus to amend the Bill at this stage in order to include specific conditions”.

Political parties are expected to criticise the power utility after the recent round of load shedding, reject the bailout (some parties) and demand answers on the power crises.

On Tuesday, the Leader of Government Business will have his regular engagement with lawmakers when he appears to answer oral questions. These sessions happen once per month during session and are limited to six main and supplementary questions. In addition, the questions must be restricted to matters of national and international importance, as assigned to the Deputy President by the President. Currently, the Deputy President is responsible for, among other things, social cohesion, the moral regeneration movement, manages the interaction between the Executive and Parliament, is special envoy to South Sudan, chairs a number of Inter-Ministerial committees and is chairperson of the South African Aids Council and Human Resource Development Council.

In line with the broad tasks delegated to the Deputy President, he will be probed on a variety of issues.

Beyond this, select Ministers in the Economic Cluster will answer oral questions in the National Assembly. Everything from specific policy, to controversies and performance will be in the spotlight.

Meanwhile, it is Committee Oversight Week in the NCOP. This is one of the ways to make sure NCOP committees keep in touch with developments and challenges facing provinces and report on their activities.

On the sidelines, the Speaker’s Forum, comprising nine provincial Speakers, the National Assembly Speaker and Chairperson of National Council of Provinces, will convene over two days to discuss issues of mutual concern in the legislative sector.

There are a number of interesting meetings scheduled in the Committee corridor that are guaranteed to generate headlines. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The Mayor of Johannesburg has complained repeatedly that the Department of Home Affairs has failed to deal with the issue of undocumented foreigners and wrote to Parliament requesting an opportunity to give details on this matter. Parliament has scheduled a joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs with various stakeholders to discuss matters raised by the Mayor in order to promote social cohesion, manage illegal migration and prevent xenophobia. (Tuesday)

MPs will receive a briefing from Equal Education Law Centre on the State of Education Report (2014-19). This report presents additional, and in some cases, alternative critical information on the nature and extent of the Department’s progress. At the same meeting, MPs will get a briefing on the Limpopo Sanitation Report. (Tuesday)

Lawmakers will receive a briefing on the Department of Correctional Services 2018/19 Annual Report. Going by past meetings, we can expect to hear the familiar story that overcrowding poses a serious threat in correctional facilities, where the most common concerns are the safety of inmates and officials, insufficient bed spaces, corruption within correctional facilities, and the prevalence of escapes. (Tuesday)

In his latest open letter, the President said that Eskom is owed billions and that a culture of non-payment exists in several parts of the country. Recently, Eskom told Parliament that the inter-ministerial task team that was formed to recover R20 billion owed by municipalities, government departments and households has failed to get the money back. MPs will get an update from the inter-ministerial committee (Tuesday).

Last year, Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs recommended that the Department of Environmental Affairs should as a matter of urgency initiate a policy and legislative review of Captive Breeding of Lions for hunting and Lion bone trade with a view to putting an end to this practice and that the Minister of Environmental Affairs should submit quarterly reports to the Portfolio Committee on the progress of this policy and legislative review. The Committee will get an update from NGOs on the state of captive lion breeding in South Africa and the Economics thereof. (Tuesday)

Previously, Parliament was told that outstanding municipal debt for water is putting some water boards at risk of going under and affecting the ability of the Department of Water and Sanitation to maintain infrastructure. An Inter-Ministerial Task Team was established to devise a plan to resolve the outstanding debt in more structured way. Legislators will get an update from the relevant stakeholders on what is being done to assist assisting municipalities to pay the debt owed. (Tuesday)

The Parliamentary Budget Office plays an important role in advising parliamentarians about public finance issues. MPs will discuss the appointment of the Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office. This post has been vacant for over a year, with the previous Parliament preferring to leave this task to the Sixth Parliament. (Tuesday)

Two committees will be dealing with external appointments: the Portfolio Committee on Communications will discuss the appointment process of ICASA Councillors while the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (Sub-Committee) will shortlist candidates to be interviewed for the Public Service Commission Board vacancy. (Tuesday)

There will be a follow up meeting with SAPS on the Firearm Amnesty. SAPS previously presented that the removal of illegal firearms was in the public interest, as firearms were the instrument most commonly used in especially violent crimes. MPs were not convinced that crime rates would be brought down, as it would be mostly law-abiding citizens who would surrender weapons. SAPS state of readiness for the project was questioned, as public trust and information about the project first had to be built and made available. There were risks attached to what would happen to collected weapons, and the possibility that criminals might target known storage facilities. SAPS was instructed to take the Committee’s issues on board and return with a re-submission. (Wednesday)

The Auditor-General will brief MPs on the Audit Outcome 2018/19. Over this period, the AGSA conducted 11% more audits than in 2015/16. The AGSA is expected to express concern that audit outcomes for departments, public entities and municipalities have been regressing over the years. Financial and going concern matters remain a challenge at most of the auditees and specifically, for a number of strategic state-owned enterprises. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will discuss the selection criteria when considering candidates to fill the position of Deputy Public Protector. The public had until last week raise objections to list of candidates who applied or were nominated. Also, the Committee will get a briefing on the responses to submissions on the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill.

Foster care backlogs are firmly on the radar for the Portfolio Committee on Social Development as the deadline for the implementation of the North Gauteng High court order on foster care approaches. It has had multiple meetings on this topic and will again get a progress update. Also on the agenda for the Committee is a briefing on Gender Based Violence, femicide, violence and murder of children. (Wednesday)

Now that the NA has concluded its work, the Select Committee on Appropriations will consider and process the Special Appropriation Bill. The Committee has already held several joint meetings with its counterpart on the bill so delegates are familiar with the bill. (Wednesday)

The Department of Mineral Resources will brief MPs on the grid and non-grid electrification. (Wednesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises will hear from Transnet on its 2018/19 annual report. (Wednesday)

Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will shortlist candidates to be interviewed for the Deputy Public Protector vacancy. (Thursday)

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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