The Week Ahead: Parliament is drawing to a close...

Nov. 26, 2018 (2 weeks, 1 day ago)

It's the penultimate week of the parliamentary year.

As a result, there is a bit of frenzy as legislation and important business that can be completed are rushed to the finishing line while other less urgent parliamentary business is dropped for lack of time.

In the remaining days, lawmakers in the both chambers are scheduled to vote on several Bills, consider statutory instruments and finalise assorted Committee Reports.

The legislation covers a wide range of issues from cybersecurity, to age of criminal capacity, to qualifications, to traffic matters, to traditional leadership, to tax and environmental matters.

In the National Assembly, a major plenary event -which has become an annual ritual - is the Debate on 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children under the theme "#HearMeToo – A Woman of Fortitude". In addition, legislators will have a marathon sitting on Wednesday during which the medium-term budget policy statement and the Adjustments Appropriation Bill will be debated. The latter appropriates extra funds for items in the budgets of departments.

Beyond this, MPs will discuss implementation of the National Development Plan, with a focus on in phases to ensure efficient monitoring and evaluation of its targets, measured against the Medium Term Strategic Framework. Elsewhere, the NCOP will sit over two days to consider assorted Bills, statutory instruments and Committee Reports.

View the full plenary programme here

Away from the legislature, there is some lawfare. The lobby group – AfriForum - is seeking urgent relief against Parliament in the Western Cape High Court to have the Report of the Joint Constitutional Review Committee on amending Section 25 of the Constitution set aside. In its answering affidavit, Parliament argues that AfriForum is deliberately trying to frustrate Parliament’s legislative processes.

View the answering affidavit here

The Committee corridor will be the site of a number of interesting meetings. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The SABC will be in the hot seat when it appears before Parliament’s Communications Committee. First, MPs will get a briefing from the Special Investigating Unit on its investigation into the public broadcaster. Second, the SABC Board will give a progress report on implementation of section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. Previously, SABC officials reported the company was in financial crisis and could collapse if it was not assisted by March 2019. The Board cited several challenges, including the unsustainable wage bill, the mismanagement from previous years and overstaffing. The Committee asked the SABC Board to review the salaries of the executive and top management. It was against the planned retrenchments and asked that other options be explored. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises will meet with South African Airways on progress in implementing the airliner’s turnaround strategy, which includes reducing and ultimately stop operating loss-making international routes. Amidst calls to privatise the airliner, it received a R5 billion injection via a Special Appropriations Bill to settle debts. (Tuesday)

SAPS will brief MPs on a range of issues including: lifestyle audits and vetting process; high profile cases; preparations for a safer festive season and the anti-gang unit. (Tuesday)

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation will get a follow up briefing from the Department of Water and Sanitation on the Bucket Eradication Programme. (Tuesday)

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme will give an MPs an update on the disbursement of bursaries and allowances to students at universities and TVET colleges and the 2019 applications process. (Tuesday)

Scopa will interrogate the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation on irregular, fruitless, wasteful expenditure as well as accrual and commitments; project overruns; unauthorised expenditure; projects not budgeted for / not funded and overdraft by the Reserve Bank. (Wednesday)

In between, MPs will be doing some heavy legislative lifting as they consider the Civil Union Bill; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill; Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill; Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill; Electoral Laws Amendment Bill; Carbon Tax Bill; National Credit Amendment Bill; Adjustments Appropriation Bill and Special Appropriation Bill.

See full schedule here

*Note: The schedule is subject to frequent changes and needs to be checked daily.

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