The week ahead: Taking Parliament to the People, SABC Inquiry, Interviews...

Nov. 14, 2016 (3 years, 8 months ago)

The endgame of the current parliamentary year is fast approaching. There are only four weeks left before Parliament rises and loose ends are gradually being knitted together.

This week could see the finalisation of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill. The division of revenue lays down how the total government revenue should be divided and allocated between the spheres of government. In addition, it's a week for detailed legislating and oversight, punctuated by some interesting-looking committee hearings and eagerly-awaited in-house business.

The main plenary event in the National Assembly is the question time session with Ministers in the Peace and Security Cluster. Most of the questions touch on specific scandals and topical issues – this guarantees a sparky sitting.

Here is a sampling of a few of the questions:

Mr W Horn (DA) to ask the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services: On what statutory grounds did he rely when he invited the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Shaun Abrahams, to a meeting at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, Gauteng?

Mr J Maake (ANC) to ask the Minister of Police: Whether, in view of the fact that crowd control during public protests is according to law a mandate of the SA Police Service, he has found that the use of private security guards in crowd control on the university campuses is inappropriate and illegal as they have not been trained nor mandated to perform that function; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what steps has he taken to address the matter?

Prof B Bozzoli (DA) to ask the Minister of State Security: Whether the Government has established which persons, organisations and/or parties are responsible for the promotion of violent protest action on the country’s higher education campuses; if not, when will the Government establish who the responsible persons are; if so, (a) which persons are responsible and (b) how are the specified persons being funded?

Mr B Holomisa (UDM) to ask the Minister of Police: Whether, with regard to the current spate of violent protests which reflect the state of lawlessness in the country and compromises investor confidence while causing a mood of panic amongst the citizens, his department has put in place clearly defined measures to avert a potential permanent state of anarchy in the country; if not, why not; if so, (a) how are the violent protests impacting on the crime statistics of the country and (b) what are the further relevant details?

Mr Z N Mbhele (DA) to ask the Minister of Police: Why did he (a) refuse to work with the Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Mr Robert McBride, and (b) request that the specified person seek clarity from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, as to where he should report for duty, since section 7 of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act, Act 1 of 2011, makes no provision for a reporting line other than to him?

Another highlight is a discussion proposed by the Chief Whip of the Opposition on Parliament's mandate to hold the Executive to account. Oversight is a function granted by the Constitution to Parliament to monitor and oversee government actions. When exercising oversight, Parliament focuses on the following areas: implementation of laws, application of budgets, strict observance of laws of Parliament and the Constitution and effective management of government departments. By overseeing the actions of government, Parliament is able to ensure that service delivery takes place, so that all citizens can live a better quality life. Earlier this year, during the debate on Parliament's budget, Mr Steenhuisen said that the institution's “become a playground for the Executive where they are mollycoddled and shielded, some Ministers don’t bother to turn up for their oral question sessions in the House and are able to duck accountability and oversight from Members of the House with impunity”. He is expected to build on these remarks.

The statement by the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on payment of service providers by government within 30 days and the recommendation of persons for appointment to the SA Human Rights Commission are other scheduled items that are expected to generate huge interest.

Over in the NCOP, the main (and only) business will be the Taking Parliament to the People initiative taking place in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality from 14 to 18 November 2016. This programme tries to make the legislatures’ more accessible to people who live outside urban areas by literally taking Parliament to them. This is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it meets the legislatures' duty to make participation accessible, especially to the marginalised. Secondly, it brings together public representatives from all spheres and encourages cooperation between all spheres, where a lack of coordination is often a cause of service failures. Lastly, legisators get direct experience of the challenges people in various communities are faced with. The event has been criticised for being a “talk shop”, not inviting all role players and for weak feedback and follow up. Education and local economic development are two broad areas of attention that this programme will focus on this year. On the last day, this programme will take a form of a formal sitting of the NCOP, which will be addressed by the President of the Republic of South Africa.

View the full plenary programme here

It’s a promising week in the committee corridor, with several interesting meetings in prospect. Here is a run down of the highlights:

On Tuesday, the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Board Inquiry will hold its first meeting where it will elect a chairperson and consider its draft programme. The Committee has been given until January to decide on the board’s firness to hold office.

The Minister of Energy and the PetroSA Board will brief MPs on the comprehensive forensic audit reports on the entity’s R14.5 Billion impairment.

The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will engage with stakeholders on the measures to address debt relief.

Lawmakers will interview candidates vying to be Public Service Commission Commissioners.

On the lawmaking side, committees will consider the following bills: Films and Publications Amendment Bill, Refugees Amendment Bill, Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill; Courts of Law Amendment Bill, Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws & Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bills; Taxation Laws Amendment Bill & Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill and Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill.

On Wednesday, The Department of Mineral Resources will brief MPs on the process of the reviewal of the Mining Charter.

MPs will hear from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on the financial statistics of higher education institutions in 2015 as well as from the Department of Higher Education and Training on the readiness of universities and TVET colleges for the 2017 academic year.

The Standing Committee on Finance will have a follow up meeting with South African Airways on the airliner's Annual Report and Financial Situation.

The National Assembly Rules Committee has scheduled its final meeting for the year and will, amongst other things, consider the report by the Subcommittee.

The Joint Multi-Party Women’s Caucus has arranged a meeting with National Treasury, Department of Basic Education and Department of Health on plans to implement the provision of free sanitary products and the no vat exemption on sanitary products.

There is a briefing by the Public Service Commission on irregular appointments in the public service.

There is also some legislative business on this day – this includes consideration of the Labour Laws Amendment Bill and Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Bill.

On Friday, the Portfolio Committee on Communications (Subcommittee) will interview shortlisted candidates for the two vacancies in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Council.

View the full schedule here


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