It's a busy week in the main chambers and committee corridor. Everything from Ministerial question time, to debates of public importance, to statutory appointments, to legislative business, to motions and members' statements dominate the plenary agenda. Beyond this, Parliament has scheduled a joint sitting on Thursday to mark Women's Day. The theme for the debate is: “Women united in moving South Africa forward”.
Both Houses have scheduled question time with ministers in the social services cluster. The practice of oral questions is an established part of the parliamentary day and gives MPs an opportunity to question government ministers about matters for which they are responsible. Over time, guidelines have been developed on how to improve this oversight mechanism. According to the newly adopted NA rules, oral questions to the executive have been extended to three hours instead of two. In the NA Chamber, some of the main questions concern the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education, the Ministerial Task Team to investigate allegations into the selling of posts of educators by members of teacher unions and the Government’s National Health Insurance programme.
Another plenary highlight is the debate in the NCOP on Tuesday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
With the elections over, coalitions and agreements formed and new councils taking shape, the Chief Whip of the Majority Party has requested an urgent debate on the 2016 Local Government Elections on Tueday.
View the plenary programme here.
There’s lots of action in Committee-land, with a few cabinet ministers set to make appearances. Everything from specific scandals to controversies around current legislation to big-picture policy will be under the microscope. Here is a rundown of the highlights:
On Tuesday, the Minister of Communications will brief MPs on a number of issues concerning the SABC. These include the public broadcaster’s editorial policy, the recent changes to the policy and the impact thereof on the broadcaster; implementation plan of the ruling of ICASA Compliance and Complaints Committee on the Media Monitoring Project vs SABC case; SABC cases that are before the Constitutional Court and the Labour Court and their financial impact on the broadcaster; and the financial position of the SABC and foreseeable impact on its operations. During its last meeting, the Portfolio Committee on Communications agreed to approach the House Chairperson to institute an investigation into all matters to do with the SABC.
Also on the same day, legislators will hear from the DTI on the impact of steel and strategic commodities on the economy, from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation on high-profile operations; budget structure/new units and from the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Office on their projects. Recently, Eskom stated it would not sign further power purchase agreements‚ creating uncertainty about the future of independent power producers.
On Wednesday, the ad hoc committee tasked with recommending a new Public Protector is expected to select the final candidate for recommendation to the National Assembly. Last week, the committee narrowed the list to 5 names. The process has been unprecedented in many ways: the huge public interest (resulting in the live screening of all interviews), the CVs of the candidates were published, the public could raise objections and the interviews lasted an uninterrupted 20 hours.
The Portfolio Committee on Police will hear from the SAPS on the Tshwane Protests and other hot-spots, the role of crime intelligence in detecting crime/unrest; and evaluation of deployment during municipal elections.
Legislators will receive a legal opinion on the implications of the Constitutional judgement on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act. Line-by-line consideration of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill is scheduled after a period of parliamentary ping-pong.
See the full meeting list schedule here.
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