The Week Ahead: More wrangling expected in Parliament

There is some very significant Committee action this week that will keep the legislature firmly in the spotlight. Regrettably, this means there will also be plenty of opportunity for posturing and point scoring as political parties try to attract publicity and out manoeuvre each other.

The parliamentary ad hoc committee looking into the Police Minister’s report on the Nkandla upgrades will continue its deliberations following its site visit to the homestead last week. During initial discussions, MPs were shocked at the cost escalations and the shoddy workmanship. Some ANC MPs have even accused the Public Protector of misleading the public. The committee has summoned both the Police Minister and the Public Works Minister to answer questions around this project. Curiously, the committee has not called the Public Protector who, according to various media reports, has indicated her willingness to appear before the committee.

Fireworks are pretty much guaranteed during the public hearings on the Expropriation Bill. The Bill seeks to align the Expropriation Act of 1975, with the final Constitution and to provide for the expropriation of property for a public purpose or in the public interest. The proposed law has been met with fierce opposition and this is the beginning of a drawn out process that is likely to end up in the Constitutional Court.

Elsewhere, there is feverish internal politicking as the SubCommittee on the Review of the National Assembly Rules submits its proposals on how to address disruptions in the House to the full Rules Committee. The Speaker instructed the body to urgently develop these measures following repeated disruptions in the House. According to a City Press report, Parliament has recruited active police officers to remove disruptive MPs from the House. The report further points out that this plan contradicts a court judgment earlier this year that police not be allowed into Parliament to remove MPs.

Over in the NCOP, the Select Committee on Social Services has organised a workshop on substance abuse. Available data and anecdotal accounts indicate that this remains a huge concern despite the various legislation and programmes (like the National Drug Master Plan, 2013-2017) that the government has put in place.

The upper House has arranged a second workshop – this time dedicated to the Youth. Young MPs and MPLs will sit together to debate how to advance and implement the National Development Plan and National Youth Policy.

Meanwhile, keep an eye out for the planned workshop on the National Minimum Wage and the meeting scheduled by the Constitutional Review Committee. Earlier this year, this Committee invited the public to make written submissions on any changes to the Constitution which they felt needed to be made. There will be a briefing on the submissions that were received.

You can find the full list of meetings here.


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