Second Term Review of Parliament 2022
The second term of Parliament officially ended on 24 June, with NA MPs on recess until 15 August 2022 and NCOP delegates returning on 1 August.
The main highlights of the term included: processing of the 2022/23 budget; processing of various pieces of legislation; important committee briefings and debates to mention a few.
A significant part of the parliamentary term was spent processing the 2022 budget and the three Bills introduced on Budget Day, namely: Division of Revenue Bill, Appropriation Bill and the Second Adjustments Appropriation (2021/2022 Financial Year) Bill. The Division of Revenue Bill was signed into law on 13 June and the other two were passed and sent to the President just before MPs left for their constituency break. For the 2022/23 financial year, a total of R1.06 trillion is appropriated among the 41 Votes. This is an increase of R31.2 billion from the 2021/22 revised appropriation of R1.03 trillion, which equates to a nominal increase of 3%. This concluded Parliament’s processing of the 2022 budget. Parliament’s responsibility concerning the budget is an ongoing, rolling process throughout the financial year.
The Budget Vote debates allowed for Parliament, and the public, to be updated about what departments are doing, how they are performing and exactly how public money is being used in a forum larger than a Committee meeting., the speeches largely followed a familiar pattern but were overshadowed, towards their tail end, by farm theft allegations against President Ramaphosa as he presented the Presidency’s Budget Vote. The sittings descended into chaos when several from the Good Hope chamber, preventing Ramaphosa from proceeding with his deliveries for hours. Subsequently, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ordered an investigation into the chaotic parliamentary sittings after some female EFF MPs claimed they were sexually assaulted as they were being removed by Parliamentary Protection Services personnel.
40 Bills are currently being processed by parliamentary committees. This includes a mix of consequential, medium-level and minor legislation. A few of the major bills include: National Health Insurance Bill, Children’s Amendment Bill, and the Expropriation Bill. When they return, MPs will have to juggle their sizable legislative load with their oversight and budgetary work.
The processing of the Electoral Amendment Bill, introduced in early January 2022, is still underway. The legislative reform seeks to allow independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections. On 26 April, Parliament filed papers with the Constitutional Court requesting a six-month extension of the deadline for the finalisation of the Bill. The extension was granted on 10 June and the new deadline is 10 December 2022 [Tracking the Electoral Reform Legislation in Parliament].
There is finally movement on the Traditional Courts Bill after stalling for many years.
The Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry finalised and adopted its reports on the Copyright Amendment Bill and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill on 10 June. The next step would be consideration and approval of the Bills by the NA during a plenary sitting. As the Bills were retagged to Section 76 Bills following their remittal by the President two years ago, they will be then sent to the NCOP for further deliberations. The expectation is there will be extensive consultations at this stage as well.
There are 28 new legislative proposals and 11 priority bills expected to make their way to Parliament during the course of the year. These were presented during a 26 May NA Programming Committee meeting as part of the Cabinet approved 2022 legislative programme.
Still on legislation, two matters resurfaced in parliamentary discussions during the term: Parliament’s ability to meet constitutional court deadlines and its reliance on the Executive to table legislation. On the latter, views were expressed by the EFF that not enough Bills were being initiated/introduced by Parliament. They expressed concern that Parliament's legislative agenda is seemingly decided by the Executive and Parliament needs more capacity to allow for Members to introduce their own Bills. [Bills stats at a glance]
Both Houses arranged several newsworthy debates and sittings:
- 26 April - Address by the President on the devastation caused by catastrophic flooding along parts of the eastern coast [Joint Sitting]
- 3 May - Worker’s Parliament: Employment Strategies in Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery [NCOP]
- 5 May - Debate on Matter of National Public Importance (Mr M Hlengwa): The energy crisis and the threat of a protracted failure of Eskom [NA]
- 15 June - Debate as Urgent Matter of National Public Importance (Mr K J Mileham): Fuel price hikes [NA]
The President did not appear for his regular Question and Answer session. His appearance twice before the NA was because of the Presidency’s Budget Vote debate. He will have to make up for this in the next term.
Committees and ministerial attendance
There was notable action in the virtual committee corridors with 319 meetings held this term, the bulk of them in the NA.
On 26 April 2022, both the NA and NCOP agreed to establish the Joint Ad hoc Committee on Flood Disaster Relief and Recovery. The Committee has conducted oversight visits to affected areas in KZN and the Eastern Cape and met with key stakeholders. The Minister in the Presidency confirmed that provincial departments will have to reprioritise their budgets to respond to the disaster in both provinces. He further clarified that the R1 billion announced by the President forms part of the government’s contingency fund, which can only be accessed once the provinces’ infrastructure departments’ funds have run out.
Early June, the National Assembly adopted a motion to establish a Joint Steering Committee on Climate Change for the duration of the Sixth Parliament. Its stated mandate is to: facilitate the co-ordination of parliamentary activities related to climate change; and facilitate a joint parliamentary programme of action to prioritise climate issues and commitments. The Steering Committee is still yet to be constituted.
In November 2020, the NA mandated the Portfolio Committee on Employment and Labour and the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to conduct comprehensive oversight work on the living and working conditions of farm workers, farm dwellers and farmers. A deadline by which the two Committees had to report back to the NA was on or before 30 November 2021. In undertaking this work, Parliament has held a series of engagements (two this term) and scheduled a programme of oversight visits across the country [Read more].
Over the last term, there have been minimal discussions on Covid-19 and the July 2021 unrest. These two agenda items have seemingly fallen off Parliament’s radar.
On ministerial attendance, Ministers and their deputies made 166 appearances before committees this term, an uptick from last year’s 161 during the same period. The top four best attendees of committee meetings this term were Ministers Barbra Creecy and Lindiwe Zulu (6), Aaron Motsoaledi and Patricia de Lille (5). On the other end of the spectrum, Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Naledi Pandor did not avail themselves before parliamentary committees this term.
Notably, opposition parties have sustained calls to get all MPs accommodated in Parliament physically during plenary sittings and committee meetings. In response to these calls, Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula has explained that Parliament’s committee rooms were available for committees to meet physically; what is however lacking at the moment are hybrid-enabled committee rooms. She indicated this and other matters relating to the resumption of physical meetings by committees, will be discussed with the House Chairpersons for committees in due course.
Following due processes, Parliament filled the board vacancy at the Independent Electoral Commission. The process of filling vacancies at the National Lotteries Commission is underway.
On the other hand, the nomination of Rev Frank Chikane for the post of Inspector-General of Intelligence failed to muster the required two-thirds majority in the NA on 15 June. 232 MPs voted in favor and 113 against. Rev Chikane had been picked by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence as the most suitable candidate after the Committee interviewed 10 candidates for the position early this year.
Also, Parliament has a new Secretary in former SALGA CEO, Mr Xolile George, who assumed his duties as the legislature’s new Accounting Officer on 15 June 2022. This brought to an end almost five years during which Parliament has had an Acting Secretary.
Parliamentary Constituency Offices
From mid-April, Parliament embarked on a programme of remodelling and repurposing of Parliamentary Constituency Offices (PCOs) as strategic points of the people-parliament interface.” The Speaker led this initiative by launching her constituency office in Makhanda on 11- 12 April. The legislative body says it “plans to roll out similar programmes of reengineering PCO and raising the bar in meaningfully engaging people in all provinces.
Public Protector Inquiry
On 10 June, the Committee on Section 194 Enquiry into the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, resolved to grant its Chairperson the authorisation to summon witnesses to assist the Committee in its task. The Committee also indicated the suspension of the Public Protector by the President early June did not have any bearing on its work. According to the National Assembly’s programme, the Committee process is expected to conclude in September 2022.
It took almost four years, eight extensions, and R1 billion but the fifth and final instalment of the Zondo Commission Report was finally submitted to President Ramaphosa last week. Among other findings, the Commission found that Parliament failed to use its oversight and accountability measures during the period of state capture.
In her 9 June Budget Vote debate speech, Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula indicated that once President Ramaphosa submitted the report and his implementation plan to Parliament four months later, this would go to the rules committee for further action. She also highlighted that parliamentary researchers were going through the two reports the President had already referred to Parliament for action, leading to two MPs being referred to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interest.
INVITATION: Please join PMG and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung on Wednesday, 06 July 2022 as we host an expert panel to reflect on the implications of the Zondo Commission reports on Parliament [Register].
Some of the key numbers and activities are unpacked on the infographic below:
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.