The Week Ahead: Business of the 6th Parliament gets underway
Portfolio Committees will begin their work this week.
Committees are an important venue for parliamentary activities. It is the site where most of the legislature's business is organised. It is typically the first place where legislative proposals receive substantive consideration.
It will be anything but a gentle start as MPs first elect Committee Chairpersons and then get stuck into the gruelling budget vote process. This ritual includes meetings with various departments and entities on their Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans and budgets for the financial year. Committees then have to prepare a report for consideration by the House.
It has become practice for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to be present at these meetings. They will be given an opportunity to set out their overall vision as well as their agenda and targets for the year ahead. This will be particularly interesting given that this is a new Cabinet and there are many reconfigured departments headed by a new Executive Authority.
Committees will be in a race to finalise their reports ahead of the budget vote debates, which are scheduled to start next week - the new MPs are in for a busy start!
Because of time constraints, this process will bring into sharp focus Parliament's oversight processes. The usual complaints are that these proceedings are hurried, questions are not probing and MPs are presented with the documents for the first time at the meeting. These concerns are even more pressing given that there is a significant cohort of new MPs having to grapple with information completely new to them.
Chairpersons set the tone for their committees and determine their success or failure.
There are no sittings scheduled in both chambers this week. However, there is a joint programming meeting to determine Parliament's programme for the rest of the year.
A lot has been done since the sixth Parliament was established: new parliamentary leadership was elected, the second State of the Nation Address and ensuing debate occurred, new structures were set up and MPs were inducted and received training.
Still, there is still a lot to do for the remainder of the year. There are key internal vacancies to fill: the Parliamentary Budget Office Director, Registrar of Members' Interest and Secretary to Parliament. The legislature will also be involved in the following external appointments: appoint/re-appoint the Deputy Auditor-General and Deputy Public Protector.
A big chunk of the time will be spent on formulating a five-year strategic vision for the institution.
The other points of interests will be the work of the Adhoc Committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution and the Justice and Correctional Services Committee's response to calls to remove the Public Protector from office. Committee will also review the legacy of their predecessor committees and decide what issues to take up.
On the legislative side, the fifth Parliament left 39 bills incomplete. These bills can be revived by way of resolution in the National Assembly. Find the list of 39 bills here: https://pmg.org.za/blog/BillsActivityFifthParliament
View the schedule here
*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.