It's another low key week in the National Assembly main chamber with no sittings scheduled. All the parliamentary action will take place in the committee corridor where the schedule is full.
We will see not one, but two parliamentary inquiries this week. First, the Portfolio Committee on Police will begin the process of removing Mr Robert McBride, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Executive Director from office. The Minister of Police wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, requesting parliamentary intervention on the IPID executive director matter in light of the recent Constitutional Court ruling. If the process is not initiated by Tuesday, Mr McBride will be able to return to his post. However, if the committee begins the inquiry McBride will be re-suspended.
Second, the Portfolio Committee on Communications will begin an inquiry into the SABC board. It will be reviewing the board's fitness to hold office. This follows the resignation of two board members and the re-appointment of ousted COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, as head of Corporate Affairs. If the inquiry finds that the board did not adhere to the broadcasting charter, and did not carry out its mandate, the committee can recommend the board be dissolved.
Beyond this, committees will continue examining government departments and state entities on their 2015/16 Annual Reports in preparation of their Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports, which has to be finalised by the end of the week. These reports may include proposals on the future use of resources and are a critical part of Parliament’s engagement with the budget for the following year.
Elsewhere, the National Council of Provinces in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Legislature and the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education will conduct oversight visits and public meetings at the Alfred Nzo District Municipality as part of the Taking Parliament to the People Programme. The Taking Parliament to the People programme was launched in 2002 as a programme of the NCOP. The programme will focus mainly on overseeing the delivery of quality education to the people of Alfred Nzo District Municipality. The programme also gives ordinary citizens an opportunity to engage their elected public representatives on issues affecting them.
There is also an internal matter to be resolved – the Speaker has distanced herself from an inaccurate statement by an official in the Parliamentary Communications Services‚ which stated that she had declined to take custody of the state capture report handed to her by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.
Here is a rundown of the highlights in committee-land:
On Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will meet with National Credit Regulator to discuss debt forgiveness. About 10 million South Africans are over-indebted. As at the end of September 2015, South Africa’s gross debtors' book stood at a whopping R1.63trn. Earlier this year, the ANC suggested that the regulator consider a kind of “debt forgiveness programme”, which would reprieve lower income groups.
Lawmakers will hear from the Parliamentary Budget Office on their research findings on higher education funding. This meeting is particularly timely given the shut down of higher education institutions and the national debate about free education.
The incoming Public Protector is expectd to brief legislators on the entity’s annual report and the Portfolio Committee on Energy will discuss the outcomes of the investigation report relating to PetroSA’s R14.5 billion impairment.
On Wednesday, the joint finance and appropriations committees in both houses will receive a Pre-Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) briefing from the Parliamentary Budget Office.
On the same day, legislators will get expert analysis on the execution of South Africa’s foreign policy and an update on the Integrated Programme of Action Addressing Violence Against Women and Children.
On Thursday, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs is expected to ratify the Paris COP21 Agreement.
On Friday, the two highlights are a progress report on the establishment of the BBBEE Commission and a meeting of the subcommittee on Review of the National Assembly Rules.
Check this link to see the full schedule.
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