Committees: Write to a Parliamentary Committee
Committees are an important venue for parliamentary activities. They are the site where most of Parliament’s business is organised.
As this is the start of 2022 and the mid-point of the 6th Parliament, this is an opportune time to help inform a Committee’s work.
Submit your input directly to a Committee here: https://www.pa.org.za/write-committees/recipients/
Committees have more time to study, interrogate and debate proposed legislation, policy proposals, budget plans and conduct oversight. There is a parliamentary committee responsible for overseeing each government department. They also provide a platform for the public to engage with lawmakers directly.
Committees hold weekly meetings to engage departments and entities on topical issues and other policy and legislative mandates. The work of a committee traverses the following:
- overseeing of Strategic Plans, Annual Performance Plans (APPs), Budgets and Annual Reports of a department and its entities;
- overseeing the implementation of a department and entities’ programmes and budgetary use and their implementation of the National Development Plan thematic areas (for example, quality of education, skills development, healthcare, housing, water, electricity and sanitation);
- processing legislation and statutory appointments;
- holding public hearings on topical issues and legislation;
- holding inquiries;
- undertaking study tours and oversight visits to provinces and entities and engaging other relevant government departments and institutions such as the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), etc. on sectoral issues.
Committees derive their mandate from the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament.
Each Committee determines its own programme of work. In practice, most committees decide on their schedule and priorities prior to or at the start of every new parliamentary term.
Committees employ the use of a Management Committee (comprised of the Committee Chair and Committee staff) to draft the programme. They consider the Committee’s legislative priorities, mandate and standing items such as the passing of departmental budgets when they do this. Topics for inquiries can also be generated by committee members themselves. Work programmes must be approved by the full Committee and are flexible to take account of changing priorities and the political climate.
Notably, stakeholder/interest groups and members of the public can influence Committee programmes but this is seldom done. Citizens have a right to proactively lobby for their concerns to be included in the programme and to highlight what issues should be prioritised. Further, they can provide parliamentary committees with on-the-ground feedback and expert information. While Parliament does create opportunities for public participation, you do not have to wait for an invitation and can interact with a Committee or individual lawmakers at any time.
*Committees have different focus areas and oversee different departments and entities.
We suggest you use the questions below as a guide when interacting with the Committee.
i. What issues should the relevant Committee put on its agenda and prioritise this year?
ii. The lifespan of all the Committees will end in March 2024. What should the Committee try to achieve in this remaining period?
iii. Do you have specific experience, information and research (specifically on the performance of a relevant department and entity that the Committee is overseeing) that could assist the Committee, and if so what?
iv. What questions should the Committee be asking as it undertakes its oversight work?
v. Do you have any advice on how the Committee can improve its oversight?
vi. Committees approve the budgets of Departments and entities. They also recommend Treasury to either increase or not reduce their allocations. What departments and entities should receive more money and why?
vii. In line with its powers and functions, is there a specific investigation and/or inquiry that a Committee should be instituting?
viii. Committees consider legislation from the Executive. They also have the power to initiate legislation. What legislative gaps exist and what legislative fixes are needed? Although ordinary citizens may not submit bills to Parliament, they may lobby MPs or committees to introduce legislation that deals with their concerns.
Submit your input directly to the Committee here: https://www.pa.org.za/write-committees/recipients/
You can find calls for formal submissions here
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.