The Legislature's budget vote, scheduled for Thursday, is the main plenary event this week. In their speeches, the presiding officers will underscore the role of Parliament in our democracy, talk about the challenges facing the institution, highlight a few successes, outline the allocation for each programme and give some detail on how they plan to implement the 2014-19 Strategic Plan, which includes the following five objectives: Strengthening oversight and accountability; Enhancing public involvement and participation; Deepening engagement in international fora; Strengthening co-operative government and Strengthening legislative capacity.
Meanwhile during the debate, MPs are expected to complain about: the insufficient funding provided to political parties, inadequate facilities and support to MPs, the poor replies to questions by the Executive, the perceived bias of the presiding officers, the lack of decorum in House as well as the shortcomings in the rules and their application. Another matter that will be raised sharply will be the Nkandla judgment, which found that the National Assembly had failed to uphold its constitutional obligations to hold the executive to account.
Read the 2015 budget vote speeches:
Elsewhere, the Ministers responsible for Telecommunications and Postal Services, Health, Labour, Basic Education, Transport and Arts and Culture will deliver their budget speeches on Tuesday. This will be followed by the Ministers of Water and Sanitation, Energy, Public Service and Administration, Defence and Military Veterans, Small Business Development and Women in the Presidency on Wednesday. The proceedings have followed a familiar pattern – some interesting announcements, plenty of sniping, and eventually the ANC triumphing despite opposition. Click here to read all the budget vote speeches and ensuing responses.
Over in the NCOP chamber, delegates will also be occupied with policy debates for a number of budget votes. Other business includes consideration of statutory appointments, reports and a debate on the outcomes of the Report-Back Session: Taking Parliament to the People in Eden District Municipality, Western Cape: “Together making service delivery work for our people”.
The Committee Corridor has arranged a few interesting meetings that are guaranteed to generate interest:
On Tuesday, provinces will present their Final Mandates on the Expropriation Bill. During last week’s meeting, most provinces indicated their support for the main principles in the Bill but forwarded recommendations in order to make the proposed law constitutionally compliant.
The Standing Committee on Finance has arranged a follow up meeting with the Public Investment Corporation, Government Employees Pension Fund and the Government Pension Administration Agency to deal with outstanding matters.
On the lawmaking side, the Standing Committee on Appropriations will meet with the Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Department of Human Settlements on the 2016 Appropriation Bill.
On Wednesday, lawmakers will hold a hearing on the House of Traditional Leader’s Petition on the alleged failure by the Western Cape Government to recognise a House of Traditional Leaders in the Western Cape Province.
After failing to get a quorum last week, the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training is finally expected to adopt the Higher Education Amendment Bill. The second reading of the Bill will take place on 24 May and thereafter it will be referred to the NCOP for consideration.
State entity, Denel, will brief MPs on the recent developments at the company. This follows a decision to establish a joint venture, Denel Asia, with the Gupta-linked company, VR Laser Asia. Of concern to MPs is whether Denel obtained the required permission to enter into venture as set out by the Public Finance Management Act. [Denel was interrogated on this matter earlier this year by the Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises].
In his recent budget speech, the Minister of Home Affairs announced that his department “issued 4 424 critical skills visas last year and finalised 80% of these applications within our target turnaround time of 8 weeks”. This statistic will be interrogated when legislators meet with the departments of labour and home affairs on government’s immigration policy, and the issuing of work permits for foreign nationals.
The Standing Committee on Finance will meet with the Chief Procurement Officer. Less than a month ago, the Office engaged with the Standing Committee on Appropriations.
On Friday, Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will formally consider the Remote Gambling Bill. This is one of the few Private Members Bills that has been thoroughly considered by a parliamentary committee.
See the full budget debate schedule here.
See the full meeting list schedule here.